Two hundred thirty-nine years ago today, all but three members of the Continental Congress signed what would become one of the most important documents in human history. A document without which we would not be able to enjoy many of the freedoms we Americans enjoy today. I’m talking about, of course, Martin Luther’s “Disputation on the Power and Efficacy of Indulgences,” also known as “Poor Richard’s Almanack.” I’m kidding. It was the United States Constitution. Once ratified and the first Congress elected, a set of twelve amendments were passed and sent to the States for ratification. The second of these Amendments concerned the pay raises of Members of Congress. Though it failed to get ratified at first, it had no time limit built into it and it was eventually ratified in 1992. Congress got around this by giving themselves annual COLAs,but since those are also a form of pay raise, a sensible Supreme Court will strike down an annual pay raise. The first of the proposed amendments detailed a strange formula for determining the number of US Representatives which, if enacted, could have required there be as many as 5,000 Representatives, possibly more. It’s good that it was never ratified. The House smells badly enough as it is with only 435 members.
The remaining ten amendments, numbers three through twelve, were ratified and became known as the Bill of Rights. Ironically, what many Americans have labeled as our most cherished rights, the ones so important they were put into the very first amendment, were actually the third of the twelve amendments sent out for ratification. Don’t sound so important now, do they? Makes sense when you consider the quartering of soldiers in your homes during peace time and without your consent couldn’t have been the third most important subject. Fifth, maybe, but not third. I’m sure not many Americans can name all of the rights enumerated in the First Amendment. For the benefit of those to whom you would like to forward this, it reads as follows:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
If our rights really came from God, then everyone would know them and there would be no need to list them in a founding document. But they don’t come from God, they come from the will of the People and are protected by the governments elected by them. NFL San Francisco 49ers backup quarterback Colin Kaepernick believes black people in this country have been denied their equal rights for too long, and he has staged a protest to draw attention to that fact. Unfortunately, all the Conservatives in this country want to talk about is not what Kaepernick is protesting, but how he is protesting – by refusing to stand during the national anthem.
Since the first preseason game Kaepernick was sitting on the sidelines during the national anthem. It was only after the fourth game was nationally televised that people started to take notice. He has recently changed his protest to take the form of kneeling during the anthem, rather than sitting. Still, this is not enough to appease angry Conservatives. Perhaps the most ridiculous of the arguments I’ve heard from them about why Kaepernick is wrong to do what he’s doing is that thousands of our brave military people fought and died to protect his rights, which happen to include a right of free speech and a right to petition the government for a redress of grievances. And it also includes a right to draw attention to your cause by not standing for the playing of a song whose very lyrics are offensive to one’s personal beliefs. What these Conservatives fail to grasp is that those brave fallen died to protect Kaepernick’s right to do the very thing he’s doing. Because if you try to say you can’t exercise your rights during the playing of a particular song, then you effectively say your rights are limited to those things that don’t offend people. And this is from the tough crowd that believes the government should get out of the business of helping people down on their luck and let them suffer the consequences of their bad decisions. The same crowd that gets most of the money our government spends on helping people down on their luck.
Colin Kaepernick and the other athletes from professional sports who are protesting the injustices black people suffer in this country have every right to do it the way they’re doing it. And rather than bitch and moan about the way they’re doing it, how about addressing the subject of their protests?
This is our daily open thread. feel free to discuss Colin Kaepernick, his protest, his vilification, or anything else you wish to discuss.