By STEVEN J. RISLEY Staff Writer
With all the violence, wars, and rioting going on in the world today, you would think that a silent protest would be welcomed with open arms.
When Colin Kaepernick decided he was going to sit out during the national anthem, he began to receive unimaginable amounts of hate, which only further proves his point. “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color,” Kaepernick explains.
As you can imagine, many people showed their support, including other players around the NFL. Others find his protest disrespectful. These same people believe the NFL should take action and penalize players for exercising their First Amendment right to freedom of speech. By taking that route, the NFL would be doing exactly what the players are protesting; oppressing them.
The protest has even reached the high school level. Many pictures and articles have surfaced of entire sports teams taking a knee during the national anthem. Even on a lesser stage, these players feel they have a voice that needs to be heard.
The Camden Diocese has had members come out and say that they will discipline players if they were to take a knee. “…We are not public institutions and free speech in all its demonstrations, including protests is not a guaranteed right. Failure to demonstrate appropriate respect will result in suspension from play (2 games) or dismissal from the team for subsequent offenses,” Superintendent Mary P. Boyle states in an email.
As a private institution, they are allowed, arbitrarily, to make their own rules. However, limiting students’ rights is crossing the line. In no way should it be acceptable to go against the Constitution in the name of discipline.
Megan Rapinoe, US Women’s National Soccer Team player, has also joined the protest. She is the only member of the team to take a knee during the national anthem. As a member of the LGBT community, she claims that she, “knows what it means to look at the flag and not have your rights protected.” Rapinoe hasn’t gotten nearly as much hate as Kaepernick receives. She believes that more people need to come together and stand up for the cause.
Whether you believe in the reasons behind the protest or not, you must understand that it is something these athletes have a right to do. Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly are First Amendment rights that are upheld by the Constitution.
Although everyone has the right to disagree, we need to realize their opinions are simply that; opinions. There are people who claim that Kaepernick’s actions are “disrespecting” the flag and those who fought for our freedom in which it represents. These same people need to understand that the flag stands for different things to different people. The protest is calling for change, and positive change is the only way the protests will come to an end.