Regarding this recent dustup over President Trump’s call to fire NFL players who refuse to salute the flag, I find myself agreeing with a guy named John Gabriel, editor of the center-right site known as Ricochet.com.
Gabriel points out – rightly – that life affords us a myriad of pleasures. Why sit around debating such a contentious topic on social media when we can choose from a variety of alternatives? Heck, we could even organize our own amateur football league, if we wished. After all, this isn’t North Korea.
Granted, like many other stodgy old middle-aged white guys, I wonder sometimes where all this political correctness nonsense is taking us. The fact that a large percentage of snowflakes – I mean, uh, millennials – support bans on what they consider hateful speech should concern all of us.
For now, though, free speech and all the other freedoms so many of us seem to take wantonly for granted remain pretty much intact – or, at least, seem to be. And Gabriel is right to stress that all of us should indulge that liberty to the fullest degree possible. And as I see it, we should feel fortunate that advances in digital media have enabled us to exercise our First Amendment rights to a degree scarcely unimaginable only a few decades ago.
In the course of affirming my right of free speech, I also freely and happily indulge my ample genetic endowment of eccentricity. I’ve always reveled in my eccentricity – just ask my parents. Eccentricity has pretty much been my modus operandi for as long as I remember.
Case in point: I’ve been enraged ever since President Obama signed an executive order prohibiting the display of Confederate flags in national cemeteries, even where Confederate soldiers are buried. So, I, a proud son of the South and a lifetime member of the Sons of Confederate Veterans, decided to impose a ban on Federal flags on my property. Now days I fly only the flag of the sovereign state of Alabama atop my very conspicuous flag pole, which occupies a elevated point on my property, which, incidentally is situated on the corner of a very busy and visible intersection in my local college town.
Like millions of other Americans, I exercise my freedom in more subtle, less eccentric ways. Millionaire athletes can squat during the national anthem until the cows come home, but I’ll not watch another NFL football game for as long as this protest persists. And when players pull that stuff at the college level, I’ll swear off collegiate level football too. I am not going to be preached to while I recreate – not by left-wing zealots, not by right-wing zealots.
Yes, I know that will strike some people as hypocritical, given the fact that I’m staging my own personal flag protest. But there is a critical distinction: I’m staging my protest as a private property owner, while these players are the employees of private corporations. They’re perfectly entitled to act out their grievances, but they should be aware that they are working for private companies whose fortunes rise and fall on the support of their fans. Simply put, they should be prepared to take their lumps.
I’m engaging in some other silent protests, too. As far as I’m concerned, George Clooney and that strawberry actress, Julianne Moore, can denigrate Confederate heritage all they want, but I will never darken the door of a theater in which their likenesses appear. As far as I’m concerned, they have no role to play in framing the moral and cultural debate in this country. They are performers – gifted ones, yes – but not political philosophers or moral sages.
I employ a similar strategy with the TV “comedians” John Oliver, Trevor Noah, Bill Maher and Steven Colbert, two of whom are not even citizens. Indeed here is a part of me that considers it flagrantly unfair that these two transplants – Oliver and Noah – earn millions of dollars while denigrating this country, particularly the South. I’d prefer that they go to the trouble of earning their citizenship first. Whatever the case, I’ll just continue surfing past them.
So, in the interests of clarity: I’ll summarize all of this as succinctly as I know how and in true reckneck/deplorable fashion: To hell with the NFL and Big Entertainment.
And, while I’m at it, to hell with the neo-Puritanical Yankee temperament that is driving so much of this madness and that seems hellbent on reforming everybody and everything within its clammy reach. As eccentric as this may sound to some readers, I really believe that neo-Puritanical sentiment is the approximate cause of much of what is wrong with modernity and, for that matter, with a rather large percentage of humanity.
I’ll stop while I’m still ahead.
Thanks, all of you, for your indulgence and for this exercise of free speech. I feel much better now.
Have a nice day.