Colin Kaepernick and His Right to Amendment #1
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Politics and Activism

Colin Kaepernick and His Right to Amendment #1

Colin Kaepernick and His Right to Amendment #1

The article to follow will not be a lecture on why Colin Kaepernick is right or wrong - my views on his cause will not be expressed - but rather an assessment on why, like him or not, he can continue to do what he is doing.

Kaepernick is an African-American quarterback on the San Francisco 49ers football team. Before all the non-sports fans close out this article, listen up: this goes beyond sports.

Kaepernick has made headlines for refusing to stand up during the playing of America’s National Anthem prior to several preseason games. President Obama even weighed in. His actions and subsequent comments made in interviews with reporters are now being fiercely debated around the country, from sports talk shows to political radio.

This is Kaepernick’s explanation: "I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color." What was once tossed around as an anti-slavery, anti-American, anti-military and even anti-white protest has now been clarified as a simple tribute to those oppressed - especially those of color - in America.

Kaepernick has pledged not to stop his protest amidst a slow momentum gain as some fans and other players decided to join in.

And the racial separation on the matter adds an unflattering wrinkle and only underscores the concerning divisions in America today: a YouGov poll found that 72% of Blacks approve of Kaepernick’s protest while only 29% of Whites approve.

Some fans, disgusted with Kaepernick’s actions and convinced it represents a lack of appreciation for the men and women defending America’s freedom every day, have called on the quarterback to be punished.

But on what basis? Did he ever do anything wrong? Did he violate any code of conduct anywhere?

The simple answer is no. There is no law mandating a citizen or NFL player must stand for the anthem. Just because you disagree with his cause - and you have every right to - does not mean Kaepernick is wrong nor in the wrong through his words or actions.

Nobody in America is punished just for having an opinion. And since Kaepernick’s actions break no rules, there is nothing anybody can do but accept that he has the right to sit during the national anthem. If Kaepernick feels like his cause is meaningful for the “oppressed” people he deems he is supporting, and he acts on it in a nonviolent manner, then no punishment can possibly be justly administered.

The NFL reaffirmed this in a statement: "Players are encouraged but not required to stand during the playing of the national anthem."

49ers head coach Chip Kelly had this to say: “Kaepernick's decision not to stand during the national anthem is ‘his right as a citizen’ and said ‘it's not my right to tell him not to do something.’”

Exactly. By all means, feel free to disagree with Kaepernick’s cause and reasoning. That is another crucial aspect of that same first amendment: freedom of speech and opinion. But just understand, there is no justification for punishment. No employer should fire an employee for the way he or she feels on the issue of oppression and how they exercise their right to protest. No employer should undermine an employee (in this case, play Kaepernick less or cut his salary) for protesting peacefully for a cause he or she deems important- and in sports, playing time should be determined by one thing only: performance on the field of play. These are basic Department of Labor standards. Basic workers’ protection rights. To advocate or suggest a punishment of Kaepernick is un-American and contrasts every aspect of free speech we as a democracy tout.

Love him or hate him, we all have our rights.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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