All this recent talk about NFL players taking a knee during the national anthem to protest police brutality is missing, I think, one very important factor. I’d like to spell out for you all now, what that factor is, and I think it’s extremely simple to understand. It might even be simple enough to understand that Trump supporters get it, too. So ready? Here it goes.

No one has the right to tell anyone else where they can or can’t peacefully protest.

It seems like conservatives have this notion that somewhere in the First Amendment is a clause that states if they don’t like what someone is protesting, that invalidates the protester’s right to protest. That is categorically false and beyond the pale of stupidity to the point of farce. White conservatives have every right to believe that Colin Kaepernick inspired a bunch of out touch, rich, black people to falsely accuse police of systemic racism and therefore take a knee, but that disagreement doesn’t mean they get to strip NFL players of their right to be citizens and protest.

There is no clause in the Constitution that anyone the right to halt another person’s peaceful protest. There’s no “at work” clause. There’s no “rich guy” clause. Yes, there are consequences for our actions, and football players risk fines and punishment if their employers take umbrage to their protests. But that’s between the players’ and their employers. There’s also no clause in the Constitution that says athletes or ANY OTHER CITIZEN is under any compulsory patriotism clause, either.

Nazis did have compulsory patriotism though. So no wonder Trump fans want it, too.

I’ve heard and read so many goddamned stupid arguments from conservatives over the last few days about this subject. Overall, they seem to boil themselves down into a few core bleats. And I’d like to address each one of their whining, mealy-mouthed complaints now, if you don’t mind.

“They’re all rich! How can they complain about America when it made them so rich?!”

Right out of the gate, this might be my favorite one. Because it demonstrates and encapsulates the hypocritical schadenfreude of the conservative mind. How many times do we get told by Republicans and conservatives how important rich people are? How often are we told that rich people aren’t buying access to our government thanks to things like Citizens United, they’re just using their money as free speech. So does that mean if NFL players were corporations taking a knee on the floor of the NASDAQ or New York Stock Exchange, then Republicans would be okay with the rich making political statements at work?

“They play a child’s game for a living!”

Yeah, and your orange fingered dipshit president used to host a shitty reality-TV show. Yet you’re not over there telling him to keep his fool mouth shut about things he clearly doesn’t understand, like namely everything. Are you? No. Then shut the fuck up. There’s nothing in the Constitution that says you lose access to freedom of speech and expression because of what you do for a living. Now, black slaves? They lost their rights, but well, we all know how uncomfortable discussing America’s racist past makes you, so let’s just move on.

“Why can’t they protest without disrespecting the flag?”

Umm. You guys do know that the flag is literally a piece of cloth right? And the last time I checked, flags don’t have feelings. But do you know who does? Black people. People of color, in general I think, have human emotions and feelings and die when you shoot them. So, I mean, it’s great and all that people like Mr. Sourdough Toast up there are looking out for the feelings of an inanimate object, but the rest of us are trying to keep our police forces from turning into outright roving paramilitary squads who have zero compulsion to protect and defend us, no matter our skin tone.

“But they’re at work!”

Oh yeah? No shit? The players kneeling are at work? Can you show me in the Constitution where it says, “except at work” or would you care to shut the fuck up real quick? Or maybe you could tell me what your thoughts on bakers refusing to bake cakes for gay couples might be? Because I bet you probably defend every baker’s First Amendment rights in that situation, don’t ya?

You know who else is at work? The President of the United States. All day, every day, that orange faced son of a bitch is at work. If you want to talk about decorum within the workplace setting, you have to start at the top, or again, you can shut the fuck up, and forever this time. Trump is rude, crude, crass, and attacks institution after institution that makes this country great, all because of his stupid goddamned ego.

No one gives up their right to free speech because they’re at work. Sure, their bosses can fire them, but then we’ll have some fun hashing all that out in court, over whether their boss’s had a right to stifle their free speech in such a way. But the bottom line is the “They’re at work” argument is stupid as shit, but considering stupid shits support Trump at this point, what are you going to do?

“Why aren’t they doing more for inner city youth if they care about the black community so much?!”

Apparently a whole lot of white conservatives are up on the details of every single waking minute of their favorite team’s player’s lives. Because I cannot tell you how many times I read comments that boiled down to this sentiment, “Why aren’t they doing more for the kids in XXX community instead of kneeling?” As if the actions of donating to charity and donating time to causes is somehow different than taking a knee. Awareness is awareness.

But comments like this are also usually made with all kinds of ignorance baked in. Somehow a ton of conservatives don’t know, for instance, that Colin Kaepernick has given millions of dollars to charities that work with inner city youths. He gave so much to charities, in fact, that the NFL Players Association gave him a humanitarian award a few days ago. He’s not even starting in the NFL right now, and his peers recognize him a true leader.


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