Freedom of expression applies to the rights given to people in a certain place to ensure they represent themselves in a way that is appropriate under the constitution. Whereas it is a required duty for diverse people to air their complaints by speech, some choose to stay quiet or take a counteractive action when their freedom of speech is violated. The right to free expression is crucial to ensuring that different people can and should communicate openly (Rivera). Furthermore, it acts as a base for maintaining consistent contact between various parties. The national football league represents the first level of sporting activity as far as football is concerned in the United States of America. The league comprises of thirty-two teams that take part in the sporting activities. As a result, the players of the American Football are highly respected and entitled with the role model obligation as the majority of the youths and other members of the public domain look up to them about societal morals.
Summary of the reading
The recent wave of unfairness with regards to the treatment directed towards the African American population in the United States has played a significant role in the football players decision to kneel during the national anthem. The football players took to their knees before the raising of the flag and during the national anthem, a sign that signified a form of passive resistance from the athletes (Cohen). Similarly, “When African Americans are treated so blatantly without fairness and justice, the American flag and our national anthem superseded by the Constitution and freedom of speech” underlines the reason behind the players’ decision to embrace passiveness. Besides, the players’ resolution to kneel instead of standing is attributable to the high degree of penalties and regulations placed on them by the authorities.
Majority of the players believe the rules are meant to limit their freedom of expression as far as the football game is concerned for “If a player can’t write and display scripture or a tribute on his eye black, how do you ignore the socks with pigs dressed as law enforcement in San Francisco?” Moreover, the move to kneel during the anthem aimed at highlighting the injustices facing not only the Football players but also other African America individuals “It is evident in today’s society that there are still many social and racial injustices that ought to stop” (Rivera).
Currently, the issue of racial discrimination in America has significantly and deeply divided the country into two opposing camps. The ever-increasing reported cases of police brutalities and excessive use of force against African Americans had translated racial discrimination. The racial discrimination is primarily from the African American community. This is what has led to the protests by the NFL football players. Instead of standing during the singing of the national anthem at the beginning of the game, some have resorted to kneeling as a form of protest against the killings and discrimination (Cohen). The passiveness is in line with the first amendment in the bill of rights; ‘right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.’
Why the topic is important
Free speech and expression in sports go hand in hand with personal liberty. For instance, when a referee decides that a fan does not approve of during a game the fans jeer and express their dissatisfaction. The topic freedom of expression plays a significant role in underlining the need for embracing equality in a community. Moreover, the topic reveals the extent the players are willing and able to go to ensure their colleagues are not victims of the racial discrimination and the police brutality (Sheff). Therefore, the topic is crucial as it highlights the sullen nature of the African-American population as far as police brutality and racial discrimination are concerned.
The topic highlights the importance of liberty in a nation. Liberty means that even in a democracy, individuals have rights that no majority should be able to take away. Therefore, both the football players and those opposing their action to kneel during the national anthem have a right to expression. On the part of those fighting, they believe in a different form of expression that in their opinion does not disrespect the National Anthem (Buchanan). The American constitution, the Flag and the National Anthem, tradition has it, are all a symbol of democracy and national unity and the belief is that none should be defaced or disrespected. The respect towards the flag has been the norm ever since the inception of a democratic America.
Those who oppose do not necessarily dispute the presence of injustice or racial discrimination and need of a peaceful protest, they just do not agree with the method of protest. Some argue that during these games, fans from all races and backgrounds gather in the stadiums to watch a match. So, such an action puts the whites and other non-African Americans at an awkward place. The discrimination creates more deep division and misunderstandings (Cohen). This, therefore, infringes on the right to gather and the fan’s right to enjoy the sport. Another group of opposing Americans argues that going against the Anthem and Flag by extension is a show of being unpatriotic. The flag and anthem are not only a symbol of unity but also of patriotism and allegiance to the country, a symbol that shows you are a proud American.
The topic is essential as it serves as a reminder of historical cases that outline the push and pull between rights and liberties in a sports context as signified by the fact of the late Mohammed Ali, the great American Boxer. Mohammed Ali was drafted and called upon four times to serve in the Vietnam War, and he refused. He based his refusal on the fact that his religion; Islam prohibited him from taking part in the war. The rejection came across as controversial with different camps opposing and supporting and an intense debate generated (Rivera). Some viewed it as his right to religion and freedom to expression hence refuse to be part of the war, and others saw it as his patriotic obligation and duty to fight for the country. “Though the case primarily addressed the freedom of religion, it also dealt directly with Ali’s right to vocally oppose the war—a world event that had nothing to do with boxing.”
Preventing cases involving passiveness from athletes as far as the activities of the United States are concerned is essential. Therefore, it is necessary for the United States government to formulate a suitable platform for the engraved parties to air their views. The constitution should be amended to cater for equality irrespective of race and social status (Cohen). Moreover, the reform should ensure the racism perpetrators are liable for punishment such as serving a given duration in jail. As a result, initiating the changes in the constitution through the house of Congress is essential.
In conclusion, each American citizen has the right to express his or herself, and this is bound to generate debate as each person has a different interpretation and understanding. Disagreements have been there since the formulation and ratification of the constitution itself. The dispute led to the wording of the amendments to create a clearer picture. Ironically this has led to more debates and numerous interpretations as in the cases above. Thus, the big question lies in “who is to decide when and if ever, the crossing of the lines of free speech and appropriate behavior.”
Buchanan, Rebekah. “Respect for flag trumps freedom of speech.” 6 October 2017. Influencer Buzz. Document. 8 October 2017.
Cohen, David S. “What the Supreme Court Says About Sitting Out the National Anthem.” 7 October 2017. Roling Stone. Document. 9 October 2017.
Rivera, Steve. “Is the NFL confused about free speech?” 7 September 2016. Yahoo Sports. Document. 9 October 2017.
Sheff, Jerry. “NFL players exercise freedom of speech by kneeling, linking arms | Letter.” 1 October 2017. Daily Herald. Document. 8 October 2017.