There’s a lot of uproar over Colin Kaepernick’s recent refusal to stand for the national anthem before games, which Kaepernick claims is a quiet protest of the country that oppresses black people like him. I feel compelled to comment because not often do my love for football and knowledge of the law intersect outside of a contractual context. Prepare yourselves for a major nerd-splosion.
Point A: Colin Kaepernick is in Fact a Douchebag.
Let us not forget that this is the guy who was fined a fifth of my salary last year for using a racial slur towards, ironically, a black man. A black man just like him, right? Kaepernick wants us to believe he is some heroic martyr for social progress, but a year ago he was willingly perpetuating the racial oppression he now finds so abhorrent. You can almost choke on all of the hypocrisy. Kaepernick has repeatedly demonstrated a lack of maturity with his sour attitude and petulant, childlike outbursts. He even looks like a pompous little prick with his fancy accessories and perma-scowl. If it looks like a douchebag and it acts like a douchebag, then it’s gotta be a douchebag.
Point B: It Makes Sense Why Kaepernick is a Douchebag.
I hear a lot of folks getting high and mighty about how Kaepernick doesn’t truly know what it’s like to be black because he was adopted by two white people. Ah yes, the completely sound “blacker than thou” argument. I take issue with this perspective because it ignores the social and psychological effects of adoption, especially on children of a different race than their adoptive parents. Being black in America is hard enough, and it is exponentially compounded by being adopted by white parents. I learned this largely through personal experience.
In college, I dated a 6’4″, 220 lb. black guy from inner-city Detroit who was one of sixteen black kids adopted by two white mormons strictly for purpose of converting and saving them from the original sin that “turned their skin black.” Don’t even get me started on the religious and racial implications of these people’s disgusting approach to adoption. Adopted children struggle with feeling acceptance and finding their identities as it is; you cannot begin to imagine the identity crises suffered by adopted children of a different race. I’ve seen it and it’s heartbreaking to watch. My ex-boyfriend frequently vented his frustrations of not feeling accepted by any race. He “talked too white”to fit in with the black kids, so he compensated by “dressing too black.” If he tried to fit in with the white kids, he risked ostracization from the black kids and, trust me, he was already bullied enough for having white parents who were collecting black souls to buy their way into heaven. This poor guy was labeled as “too white” while still receiving the “too black” treatment from the police, employers, shop owners, and strangers on the street. Not knowing who he was and where he fit in took a toll on my ex who, as consequence, struggled with alcoholism (the ultimate reason for our breakup). I don’t say this about many of my exes, but this ex was actually a good human, and he did not deserve his depressing reality of existing between two races and belonging to none.
With this being said, I think I understand why Kaepernick acts like a douchebag. Wouldn’t you if you felt as frustrated, confused, and alone as he probably does due to not only being adopted, but also being simultaneously too white and too black to feel accepted? In recognizing Kaepernick’s constant battle for acceptance by both whites and blacks, it suddenly makes sense why he would use a racial slur towards a black man in one moment and then strongly advocate for a black social movement in the next. What once appeared as hypocrisy now appears more symptomatic of an identity crisis. I truly feel sorry for Kaepernick and wish I could give him a hug. He needs one.
Point C: Regardless of Point A and Point B, Kaepernick’s Douchey Conduct is Well Within His Constitutional Rights.
Why you mad, bro? Is it because…
- you think Kaepernick’s protest was at an inappropriate time, done in a poor manner, or at the wrong place? Too bad. The First Amendment guarantees his right to peaceful protest no matter the time, manner, and place unless the protest violates content-neutral regulations. In this case, I know of no law prohibiting peaceful protest (1) during the national anthem before a sporting event, (2) by means of sitting and refusing to stand for the national anthem, or (3) on the sideline bench in a pro football stadium. There are no such content-neutral regulations for Kaepernick’s protest to violate; thus, his protest remains constitutionally protected.
- you disagree with the message of Kaepernick’s protest? Tough. The First Amendment guarantees his right to free speech regardless of content unless the speech is unprotected by the Constitution. Unprotected speech includes incitement of illegal activity and/or imminent violence, defamation and libel, obscenity, threats and intimidation, and false advertising. Here, Kaepernick’s message conveys discontent with the government’s perceived discriminatory treatment of racial minorities, particularly black males. His speech in no way incites lawlessness or violence (e.g. “Hey, everyone, go loot and beat the shit out of cops.”), defames (e.g. “During my toast, I’m telling everyone at the wedding that the groom cheated on the bride with a 12 year old prostitute in Tijuana even though I know it’s not true and will probably cause a lot of damage to the groom’s reputation.”), offends common morals or decency (e.g. “I handed out hardcore fetish porn at an elementary school.”), threatens or intimidates (e.g. “I am going to curb-stomp you if I ever see you in this town again.”), or falsely advertises (e.g. “If you take this one pill, you’ll lose 100 lbs. without having to change your diet or work out.”). Therefore, Kaepernick’s speech is protected by the Constitution.
- you believe Kaepernick’s protest disrespected the flag and our country? Get over it. First of all, we live in a country where the flag can be burned as a constitutionally protected expression of speech, and you’re pissed about a pro athlete sitting for the national anthem before a preseason football game? I question your ability to effectively prioritize. Second, aggressive nationalism is really dangerous. When society and the government begin forcing standards of patriotism onto disinclined individuals and the masses, the result is Nazi Germany or the U.S.S.R. under Stalin. People are being judged on how much they obediently demonstrate love and respect for the country, and then are being criticized, bullied, and threatened when they do not sufficiently comply with nationalist etiquette. We saw it in the Olympics when Gabby Douglas was ruthlessly harassed for NOT PUTTING HER HAND OVER HER HEART DURING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM. We see it now where Kaepernick is being threatened and told to get out of the country and his jersey is being burned for NOT STANDING DURING THE NATIONAL ANTHEM. I can’t be the only one who sees how deeply disturbing this trend is. I mean, I love and respect America, but I demonstrate that by paying taxes, obeying the law, and being grateful for the luxuries afforded to me as a citizen, not by participating in Salem witch hunts for people not acting “American enough.”
Conclusion: We are All a Bunch of Judgey Douchebags Without Lives.
In closing, Kaepernick likely feels cast out by society and thus acts out in attempt to garner acceptance from a particular racial group. When you suggest that he get out and “find another country” for committing the heinous crime of exercising his constitutional rights, you aren’t helping him to feel the acceptance for which he strives; you are being a douchebag.