Dear Fellow Americans,
On this Saturday, as the POTUS continues to blame Puerto Ricans for being poor and seemingly unable to overcome having most of their island destroyed, I am continuing to read that some of you are still Very Upset over the sight of players kneeling whenever the National Anthem is played before the commencement of NFL games.
There is a rather obvious reality that you are pissing and moaning about a sports event while a few hundred miles South East of here, people are struggling to stay alive, which makes me wonder which distant land your sense of priorities and proportion have disappeared to. But OK, let’s talk about protest in the NFL.
I am reading a lot of comments from a whole bunch of you. One thing to note about these comments is that many of them seem to begin with or contain variants of the phrase “I’m not going to tolerate”, as part of what usually comprises a rant to the effect that the players who kneel are disrespecting the flag, or the military, or the entire United States of America.
Well, OK. You don’t like the players protesting. That much is obvious.
But my follow-up to people who make statements like “I am not going to tolerate” is simple.
What are YOU going to do about it?
So, you intend to boycott the NFL and its sponsors?
Fine. That is a fundamental freedom that we all enjoy to spend our money as we see fit. Have at it.
But let’s be honest. That’s not all you want. No sir. What you really want is for these people to be forced to cease that form of protest.
Which brings me to my fundamental questions.
1. Who gave you the right to decide what form of protest is acceptable? Did you go to college to learn the rules?
2. Why should any other person or group of people in the USA be forced to modify their behavior because you find some aspect of their behavior intolerable?
3. How does your lack of tolerance of actions that you dislike have anything to do with anybody else? The players are not breaking any laws, and their actions do not harm you personally.
4. How conceited do you have to be to think that I even care about your tolerance?
But when all is said and done, this boils down to two things:
– your feelings are hurt
– you want somebody to damn well do something about it
Your feelings are hurt? Well, boo hoo. You know, one of the parts of life that being an adult imposes on all of us is to learn the ability to move past incidents where events or people upset us over events that are, in the grand scheme of things, nothing. If we can’t do that, we pretty quickly end up as resentful assholes that people tend to avoid. So, forgive me, I really am right out of fucks that I can give right now about your feelings about a controlled, measured peaceful protest at a sports game.
So you want somebody to damn well do something about it?
No. Hell no.
You don’t get to demand and expect somebody (the NFL, the law, Congress, the President) to coerce people into compliance with your worldview. That’s not in line with any of the principles enunciated in the Constitution, or any of the principles that we need to adhere to in order to have a functioning civic society. Actually, your whining and demanding that Something Be Done is a perfect example of the behavior pathology outlined many years ago by the psychologlist Robyn Skinner, in this quote:
“If people can’t control their own emotions, then they have to start trying to control other people’s behavior.”
You cannot control your feelings over the anthem protests, so you just want somebody to make them go away.
So. Back to your “I find this intolerable” schtick.
I don’t care whether or not you find it tolerable or not. Your tolerance is a personal emotional part of your own behavior. It has nothing to do with me, I wouldn’t presume to ask “do you tolerate anthem protests”, because it is none of my business. However, when you start trying to persuade people that coercive action should be applied to other people or groups in order for your feelings to no longer be hurt…well, that is where I say Back Off. You don’t get to coerce other people to modify their behavior to suit your beliefs. That’s not tolerance. That’s trying to impose totalitarianism. That is deeply antithetical to America values. Knock it off.