Wednesday, August 31, 2016

The Land of the Skree and the Home of the Slave

It has been entertaining to watch the controversy surrounding Colin Kaepernick, the NFL quarterback who refused to stand for the National Anthem.  After seeing the predictable frothing reaction by white racist jingoes, I'm half-inclined to agree with Donald Trump that Political Correctness is killing America: Kaepernick was just speaking his mind, telling it like it is, refusing to let Political Correctness stifle his thought and opinions, and all these whiny Social Justice Warriors got their delicate sensibilities in a bunch.  They want professional sports to be a Safe Space, and they'll accept no trigger warnings -- they want total conformity to the Politically Correct thought police.

This morning I met a friend for lunch at a bar, which of course had a TV tuned to ESPN.  The big question of the segment was Rodney Harrison's celebrity-style apology for claiming that Kaepernick is not black.  I say "celebrity-style" because, as is typical of the genre, Harrison's apology groveled without actually saying something or even acknowledging that, or why he was wrong -- he just hadn't meant to offend or hurt anybody.  A self-identified "Caucasian person" on the panel of commentators, also predictably, lamented that Harrison shouldn't be "humiliated" for making an honest mistake.  The other commentators did better, though.

But I have a question. The cartoon above got a lot of traffic among liberals and progressives a few years back, when Brendan Eich, Alec Baldwin, Duck Dynasty and some other people got in trouble over some antigay and racist remarks and actions. The point was that as long as the government isn't censoring them, it's okay for them to be fired, to lose their contracts with their media overlords, and for millions of people to throw virtual caca at them on the Intertoobz -- because it's only censorship if the government does it. Corporations and other private entities are not bound by the First Amendment. This can be argued, and it was.

So here's my question: why does this cartoon not apply to Colin Kaepernick? Or does it? Should the NFL show Colin Kaepernick the door for being (as he is, in many people's opinion, though not in mine) an asshole, whose bullshit they don't want to have to listen to?  I have no particular opinion myself, I'm just curious to know what other people think.  It seems to me that this case confirms my oft-stated belief that freedom of speech almost always comes down to which asshole and which bullshit is on the block.