Friday, September 16, 2016

The Yin and Yang of Colin Kaepernick

By Victor Ward

The Colin Kaepernick situation represents so much of what is wrong in the world.

Why do we play the National Anthem before sporting events? Sports is nothing but entertainment. We don’t play the Anthem before movies, or before television shows, or before live theater; so why bother to play if before sporting events?

And, yes, we have the much ballyhooed third stanza, which has the following language:

No refuge could save the hireling and slave
From the terror of flight or the gloom of the grave.

Is this verse about Black slaves? Probably, but the verse is repulsive regardless of which race it discusses. Slavery is not to be celebrated, and when someone is kept and worked and beaten against their will and then said person dies because they are killed during a war, I am not sure why it should be celebrated in song.

But, that’s not the worst part of the Anthem. The worst part is the lie that concludes every stanza:

O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.

I can’t stand for the Anthem because it is a lie. The United States is a far, far, far cry from the land of the free and the home of the brave.

People think that we are free.

Really? Free to do what? I know of someone who owns 15+ acres in Silicon Valley. Is he free to build one large mansion over 20,000 square feet to entertain all his Silicon Valley friends?

No, the city where he lives has a square footage limit of 4500 square feet per home

Can another friend and his wife, who are absolutely great with kids, open a day care and have 20 kids attend?

No, the state won’t let them.

Can I put in heated floors in my kitchen?

No, unless I get the City’s approval.

Can we keep our money and only contribute it to the places where we want it to go?


But, one of the worst parts about the “land of the free” is when I hear people saying that Kaepernick protesting the Anthem by kneeling has something to do with his Free Speech/First Amendment rights.

Well, the NFL or the San Francisco 49ers could say: “Kaepernick, you must stand during the playing of the National Anthem. If you do not, you will be fined, suspended, and, if you remain unrepentant, you will be banned from playing in the NFL.”

The NFL is a private organization and it can do whatever it pleases — well, as long as the State allows it.

The First Amendment has nothing to do with private companies. It, and the rest of the Bill of Rights, is addressed to the government and to the individual’s relationship with the government. 

There are some rights, like the First, that are absolute. They are not supposed to change with time. The government is never supposed to infringe on our ability to speak or to practice religion or to access the government to redress our grievances or to have a press or to peaceably assemble.

There are other rights, like the Fourth, which are supposed to be living. The Fourth Amendment says that people are to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. The word “reasonable” (and, in this case, “unreasonable”) means that the trier of fact is supposed to ask, “How would the reasonable person view this?”

The reasonable person in the 19th century may not be the reasonable person in the 21st century. Things change.

But, even if you disagree with my view of the “reasonable person” standard or my view of the Constitution, there is no argument that Kaepernick DOES have a First Amendment right to not stand for the Anthem, but the fact that he is not disciplined by the league or by his team has NOTHING to do with that right. The private organizations can do whatever they would like.

When people confuse these things, they give the government more power than it already has.

This is where the Kaepernick situation gets really interesting: One day, when he first started getting media attention, Kaepernick wore socks that had pictures with pigs in police hats. People were furious: “How dare you insult our cities finest!"

But, what is Kaepernick supposed to do? Here is what I mean:

If I asked you, “What is the federal legislation known as the ACA,” you would respond with: “The Affordable Care Act.”

If I asked, “What does the IRS stand for,” you would say, “The Internal Revenue Service.”

What if I said that the term Cops was actually supposed to be COPS — Citizens Official Protection Services? That would be a pretty cool name, right? All police officers would embrace this term.

They would proudly say, “We are COPS!”

Well, pigs is really supposed to be PIGS — People In Government Service.

Isn’t that what police officers are — people in government service? So, yes, they are PIGS, and so are mayors and congress people and the President and judges.

Heck, I have worked for the government, and, when I did, I was a person in government service — PIGS.

There is nothing wrong with pigs. They are a very intelligent animal. In the wonderful book, Animal Farm, the pig was the most advanced creature.

But, like I said, we are not talking about pigs — but PIGS. So, I am not sure why everyone got so upset. Can’t we take a little joke? What happened to “sticks and stones can break my bones but words will never hurt me?”

When the Santa Clara police officers heard about Kaepernick’s socks, they got butt hurt. The Police Union, which is supported by mandatory dues that come from the police officers’ checks — in other words, the Union is supported by the tax payer —  said that they may not work the 49ers’ home games unless the 49ers tell Kaepernick to not wear his socks.

Let me get this straight: Government officials, who are paid by Kaepernick’s tax dollars, are offended by his free speech. So, these government officials, who cannot legislatively control what Kaepernick has to say — NOTE: This IS because of his 1st Amendment rights —  threaten to take away their government services, again, paid for by Kaepernick, unless a private organization disciplines him for his socks.

Isn’t this Extortion? Extortion is obtaining something that is not yours through force or threats. From the Libertarian point of view, Blackmail is ok, but Extortion is not.

So, again, isn’t this Extortion?

To recap: We have two private sector, tax-paying people — Kaepernick and the 49ers — who have agreed on something: Letting Kaepernick wear his funny socks. The police officers/government officials — who cannot constitutionally control speech and who are supposed to arrest people when they commit a crime — are extorting (committing a crime against) one of the private actors — the 49ers, who pay the police salary — so that the private actor/49ers will do something that the government official cannot do: Control the other private sector/tax paying person, Colin Kaepernick.

And all this over socks. 

Land of the free?

Home of the brave?

Wow. We are through the looking glass.

Victor J. Ward  first came across libertarianism by reading Murray Rothbard's Ronald Reagan: An Autopsy and Walter Block's Defending the Undefendable. He holds a law degree from the University of California, Hastings College of the Law and an MBA from Santa Clara University.

1 comment: