I know this is a mistake. I have been biting my tongue for the last couple of weeks since the San Francisco 49er’s quarterback sat during the national anthem to protest oppression of and racism against blacks.
I am not black and am told (repeatedly) that I cannot possibly understand anything about race. In addition, there are politicians, mass media, bloggers and social media pundits galore opining away and my opinion is hardly necessary.
On the other hand, I overheard two black guys discussing the topic in the locker room at LA Fitness and I thought I’d take their perspective. That was, “What the hell does he think he is doing? How is any of this supposed to help?”
Exactly what does Kaepernick think he is doing?
It isn’t about free speech. There is not much saying that he does not have a constitutional right to be disrespectful to his country and law enforcement. (He says he is not unpatriotic or disrespectful, but even if somehow a convoluted case for blowing off the national anthem as a display of patriotic respect could be made, there is no way his wearing police-pig socks could.)
During my career, if I had chosen to engage in political protest such as this, I believe I would have been within my legal rights. However, if I chose to do so in my employer’s building, in front of my employer’s clients and other employees, wearing my employer’s uniform, during my workday – I suspect I would have been in violation of my employment contract and standards of conduct to which I had agreed. I am not sure what discipline I would have opened up for myself, but I would have been ill advised to start spending my next bonus. I also wonder what behavior my protests would have fostered in my children.
Just because you have the right, doesn’t make it right.
But, let’s say CK considered all of that and is compelled to mix metaphors, damn the torpedoes and let the chips fall where they may. We have to admire that. Don’t we?
Of course, in today’s political climate NFL consequences are not necessarily consequential. There is not much risk of penalties or discipline being meted out at all by the NFL. After all, snubbing your country isn’t like deflating your balls, criticizing an official’s ancestry or accidentally giving someone a boo-boo. And if there was, what does a fine of a few thousand dollars mean to somebody who makes $19 million a year? Does a game penalty to a sub make him a backup backup? Does he have to sit behind the bench?
15-yards and $5,000 Penalty for Politically Incorrect Conduct
The NFL has many rules relative to conduct. In fact, they are fining Tennessee Titans Avery Williamson (also black) something like $5,000 for patriotically wearing shoes saying “Never Forget” out of respect for the victims and responders of 9-11.
The No Flipping Logic also banned and would have fined the Dallas Cowboys for honoring the five policemen assassinated in Dallas. Ironic that displays of disrespect are somehow patriotic while displays patriotism are banned for being disrespectful. However, once again, nobody consulted with me.
All that aside, back to the question of what Kaepernick hopes to accomplish. In business every program should have objectives. Those should be measurable. I read where Kaepernick said that he wanted to increase awareness of oppression and racism toward blacks. He has apparently been living in a cave and somehow missed coverage by politicians, media articles, movies, TV shows, rap music, blogs, etc. on the topic.
Increased awareness can’t be a viable goal, can it? If it is, how does he plan on measuring his success or failure? More — Most — importantly, even if there were units of measurement for such things, what about that would make anything better?
Assuming he is sincere and not just exercising his ego or being used by someone for political gain, surely he must be trying to improve the lot of these oppressed people and reduce racism.
That seems worthy. So, let’s consider how CK’s actions will impact things along these lines. Here is our poll.
- Do you think that oppressor-folk will feel more favorable about those feeling-oppressed-folks as a result of CK doing something that is almost universally perceived as disrespectful?
- Will CK’s actions ameliorate or exacerbate any tendency toward negative feelings based on race? (Sorry, word of the day exercise.)
- Will CK’s actions refute or reinforce racial stereotypes?
- CK is revered as a sports icon. Is his protest likely to make young people more respectful or disrespectful?
- Are people acting disrespectfully more or less likely to attract the negative attention of authorities?
- Is a man-child acting out disrespectfully to police more or less likely to receive harsh treatment from same?
Inquiring minds want to know but alimentary evidence is mounting that the 49ers’ Colon (sic) is full of shit.