The Colin Kaepernick situation was somewhat reignited this week after revealing that he has begun receiving death threats over his protest of the national anthem. The very people sending these threats are missing the irony of the situation. Whether you agree with Kaepernick or not, it is his Constitutional right to take a knee during the Star Spangled Banner. It’s everyone else’s Constitutional right to disagree and feel like it’s disrespectful. Freedom of Speech does not cover violent threats against someone you disagree with. It’s a line that’s starting to get blurred and we need to talk about that.
Writer Evelyn Beatrice Hall once quipped “I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.” This quote, in a microcosm, is the principle that America was built on; freedom. As long as what you have to say, however ignorant it may be, doesn’t directly detract from one’s overall wellbeing and enjoyment of life, you are free to shout your nonsense from the rooftops.
America is losing this ideal. Freedom of Speech is quickly becoming subjective. People are only willing to defend someone’s right to take a stand on a subject when they agree with the position. You can see this with the increased reports of death threats to celebrities who take a stand on controversial social issues.
Colin Kaepernick is just the latest example. Here you have someone who is protesting an issue that is widely regarded as a more than legitimate concern. Yet, his critics are so blinded by patriotism that they vilify him for exercising his Constitutional rights for a cause that he feels is just. The ability to be free enough to openly take a knee during our country’s anthem without repercussions is exactly one of the principles that makes this country great.
There was no problem here. That is until reports of death threats surfaced this week. These threats are the first true violation of someone’s Constitutional rights that have come up during the course of this story. The threats are made by people who are so offended by Colin’s action that they view it as an insult and threat to our country. The irony is that there was no insult, there was no threat, until these fools took pen to paper and threatened a life.
Peacefully protesting is not, and never will be, a threat to freedom. If you think it is, then you do not truly understand what freedom means. If your perception of freedom is threatened by a man taking a knee, then you yourself are not truly free. You are holding on to the idea that anyone who disagrees with you is an enemy, when you should be acknowledging that the ability to have a different or dissenting opinion is what makes us free.
Whether you agree or disagree with Kaepernick is beside the point. You have the freedom do either. What you must acknowledge, however, is that he has every right to peacefully protest for the cause of his choice and that his ability to do so is actually a celebration, not a protest, of our American principles.