Uncommon Sense

September 9, 2018

Another Approach (The Nike Ad Campaign)

Recently, the shoe company (amongst their other products) Nike featured Colin Kaepernick in an ad campaign with one of its tag lines being “Believe in something. Even if it means sacrificing everything.”

Mr. Kaepernick is famous for protesting police brutality against people of color by kneeling during the playing of the national anthem at NFL football games. (Kneeling is a form of respect and submission, but not the form that Mr. Kaepernick’s detractors want.) He paid a price of many millions of dollars in that he lost his job as an NFL quarterback.

Several police organizations have protested this ad campaign as being a fallacious smear against the police who risk their lives daily. This is a bit much but also ignores the many, many incidents in which police officers have shot and or killed people of color with no repercussions other than occasionally an officer losing his job. The idea of a police officer being prosecuted for excessive force is almost ludicrous in this country.

Interestingly, police officers and their organizations, supposedly taught how to diffuse tense situations have instead poured fuel on the flames. There is available to them another approach.

They could have, without agreeing to anything, stated that a police officer using excessive force is unacceptable. They could go on to state that while the vast majority of officers do their jobs safely and with respect, even one bad officer is unacceptable. Consequently, the XYZ Police Association asks for more training funds and … blah, blah, blah. They could even have asked Mr. Kaepernick to sit with them and discuss options to move forward to a safer future. All of these things would defuse some of the issues involved.

Several things that come to my mind are the removal of the feeling of fear as a justification for a policeman to use deadly force. According to the police organizations, policemen face death daily, which just has to be associated with fear (and courage) which means that deadly force is always a reasonable approach for these officers … on a daily basis. This is unacceptable. I suggest that the level of force should never exceed the penalty for the infraction involved. If pulled over for a traffic violation, the worst thing to happen is a ticket and a fine. If somebody, once stopped, speeds away, there is another ticket and another fine, not an excuse to shoot at the miscreant or the miscreant’s car.

Allowing the feeling of fear to be the justification for the application of deadly force is ludicrous. We cannot verify such a fear, we can only sympathize. And even if the fear exists, we are asking officers to lower the fear level, not extinguish it. (Note The same thing goes for stand your ground laws.)

September 25, 2017

Wait, The Flag? How Did the Effing Flag Get Involved?

The statesman unlike rantings of our President drew a reasonable response from NFL football players and coaches and owners yesterday. But as I viewed a smattering of comments on the actions

WTF?

taken and words spoken yesterday and today I am greatly puzzled. Commenters are claiming that the American flag, and hence our country, was disrespected.

My first response was: so? Are conservatives getting like the pussy college students and need trigger warnings? **Warning! A mild action of disrespect will occur shortly, you might want to move your children away from the TV set. Warning!**

But upon reflection, how the heck did the flag get involved? The flag is hanging there for the whole damned game. The athletes are only kneeling during the playing of the national anthem, not while the flag is flying. They are not disrespecting the flag, they are disrespecting the anthem.

They are kneeling in protest of the way Black people are treated in this country. If you feel the protest is unwarranted, explain how it is that Black people are treated the same as all other citizens. Explain how they never get tickets for driving when Black or how they never get shot by police for brandishing a toy gun in a toy store while talking to their wives on their cellphones. Explain how Black men in particular are treated just like everyone else.

It is for these reasons that the U.S. does not deserve respect, plain and simple, certainly not from proud Black men.

“Why are we playing the national anthem at every damned sporting event in the U.S?”

And why are we playing the national anthem at every damned sporting event in the U.S? These are not usually international affairs in which the audience needs to be reminded of what country the contest is taking place it. These are not patriotic events. What is the purpose of playing the damned anthem … a song … at every sporting event … other than pandering to the conservative owners and fan base? Why do we repeat the Pledge of Allegiance at almost every public meeting, even of private clubs? Did the pledge wear off? Does it need to be renewed? Did we forget where our allegiance has been sworn? I refuse to repeat that pledge because when I make a pledge, I will tell you when I have changed my mind. You will not have to guess and I will not forget.

My advice to those outraged at a little disrespect, maybe try providing fewer opportunities. If you put your balls on an anvil and pass out hammers, you shouldn’t be surprised that somebody decides to hammer away.

August 24, 2017

Why is Colin Kaepernick Still Unsigned?

The Guardian summed up the situation thus:

The NFL season begins in two weeks and the quarterback who took the San Francisco 49ers to within seven yards of winning the Super Bowl four years ago does not have a job. His absence isn’t difficult to explain. His refusal to stand for the national anthem last year as a way to draw attention to racial inequality in the US has apparently made him toxic to the league’s owners who fear a backlash from white fans and corporate sponsors offended by a perceived lack of patriotism.”

So, the obvious question is why is “patriotism” symbolized more by a mindless participation in a ritual than in the actual exercise of rights of citizens as defined by our constitution? In a similar vein, why do people equate support of our military as support for our country? Are we not more than a support system for a mighty fist? How was Colin Kaepernick being “unpatriotic”? How possibly could exercising one’s rights as a citizen be unpatriotic? Is the argument one of balance? Is overt and vicious racism no good reason for disrupting the jingoistic symbolism surrounding a football game?

I wonder how this would all have gone had Kaepernick been white? I am sure team and league officials would have huddled with a star white quarterback and figured out a symbolic way to “address the issue.” which typically would be a grant of some money to a symbolic organization, the quarterback would then have been hustled in front of some microphones to read an apology written by his publicist, and then everyone would be back doing what made this country great: making money, for fuck’s sake! That’s patriotism!

September 8, 2016

R-E-S-P-E-C-T Find Out What It Means … To Colin Kaepernick

Filed under: Culture — Steve Ruis @ 9:27 pm
Tags: , , ,

A member of the San Francisco Forty-Niners NFL football club, Colin Kaepernick, has released a firestorm of criticism and discussion by refusing to stand for the singing of the national anthem when it is sung before each and every football game (and baseball game and basketball game and …). He did this without announcement all through this year’s pre-season competitions and was noticed only toward the end of that series of games. When asked why he was doing such a thing, he replied that he couldn’t respect a country that allowed such unequal treatment of its black and brown citizens.

Of course, the conversation got blown all out of proportion, rarely getting back to the point Mr. Kaepernick was trying to make. Some thought he was disrespecting the fans, others thought he was disrespecting the team owners, his teammates, even members of the armed forces. Of course, Mr. Kaepernick’s statement that he was disrespecting the country’s acceptance of rampant inequality as a whole went mostly uncommented on.

I would like to take a step back (you knew that was coming) and ask: why are we playing the national anthem at the start of every damned sporting event in the country?”

These are not political events. They are not sponsored by political parties or the government or any agency that is making political contributions, suggesting policy, or playing a political role at all. So, why do we begin purely social events with the playing of the national anthem?

“Why are we playing the national anthem
at the start of every damned sporting event in the country?

And why is standing up required? Why is taking off one’s hat required? Why is holding one’s hand over one’s heart required? I am sure that someone will claim that we should take every opportunity to give thanks for our country, but I find that puzzling because we are the country, so we are thanking ourselves? We are not giving thanks for our veterans or the sacrifices made by previous generations, we have other occasions at which we thank them.

And why is conforming to the demands of society during the playing of the national anthem count as an act or statement of patriotism? Surely this is mere symbolism and far from a real act of patriotism.

There is also the danger that if you repeat a ritual too often and make it mundane, it loses its power, such as asking our school children to recite the Pledge of Allegiance every fracking school day (I remember pledging allegiance to the United States of Asparagus and other slight lyrical modifications.) A comedian, Robert Klein I believe, had a bit in which he auditioned replacement lyrics (“While we are standing here waiting for the ball game to start, … (I had lovely musical notes inserted here but the ferdlinger WP site won’t accept them)” was one of my favorites.)

So, what is so damned important about a song played at sporting events for quite nebulous reasons. (The actual reason, I am sure, is that once the playing became commonplace, no team owner wanted to break with the practice.)

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