Land of the free


The internet is blowing up with Colin Kaepernick’s recent decision to remain seated during the playing of the national anthem.

What a jerk, people say. If he doesn’t like it here, he should leave, they say.

Well, my friends, that same flag you’re protecting—and the Constitution it represents—gives him the right to show his displeasure. Just as it gives you the right to protest his behavior.

I’m not saying I agree with his decision. In fact, I was sad to see it. I’ve always stood for The Star Spangled Banner, even though there are many things going on in this country that break the heart my hand is covering. Still, if I would choose to sit in quiet protest, I have a right to do that.

Both my grandfathers and my father fought for this country. They didn’t just serve, they fought. With guns and grenades and bombs. They placed themselves in mortal danger and were even wounded doing so, and I love them all the more for it. And yes, I hope all our citizens respect that kind of service and honor their commitment to perpetuating the liberties we all enjoy.

Including the liberty to express one’s opinion.

Like Colin Kaepernick.

Think about it, folks. This country was founded on the right to speak out. In fact, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights (the first amendment of which is the one we’re discussing here) represent a fundamental protest against government. Our freedom of speech exists today because a bunch of powdered-haired (white) dudes went rogue and told their rulers they didn’t like what was going on.

It’s not important whether you agree with CK. It’s not important whether he’s right or wrong or whether you think he is. What IS important is that, like it or not, our founding fathers and every soldier who followed fought for this guy’s right to sit down during the national anthem.

If we tell this guy he can’t express himself, what are people going to be able to tell YOU you can’t do or say?

Which means you can continue to protest, just like he can continue to sit. The same First Amendment supports you both. Think about it.

In your face

Little did I know that my visit to the Eiffel Tower last week would coincide with an organized demonstration. As we approached the monument from the Trocadero side, we saw that a group of spectators and press had amassed off to the side, with the tower as a backdrop. Edging closer, to my surprise and my 13-year-old son’s delight, we saw a cluster of women who were stripped to bikini panties, holding signs that proclaimed, “Muslim women, let’s get naked!”

Bemused more than shocked, I took advantage of the photo op and moved on to other things. After I returned to the States, I decided to look up the demonstration to see what it was all about. It turns out that the focus was intended to protest the objectification of women. Hmm.

While I certainly don’t want to be viewed as an object myself, I wonder if this is an effective way to communicate the cause. Yes, it got a lot of attention, but I’m pretty sure that most people were drawn in by the spectacle and probably don’t remember much but the naked bodies.

Women or men, we don’t want to simply be bodies. We want to be intelligent, funny, engaging creatures, remembered for our contributions rather than the way we look or the space we fill. In this case, if no one remembers the speech because everyone has been so captured by the nudity, hasn’t the demonstration accomplished exactly what it was trying to eliminate? Then again, I did look it up to learn more, so maybe it did have some positive effect.

I’m still pondering, but I’d like to know what you think. Comments, please!