Thomas Lucente: NFL players prove liberty works


By Thomas J. Lucente Jr. - tlucente@limanews.com



ONLY ON LIMAOHIO.COM

See past columns by Thomas J. Lucente Jr. at http://j.mp/ThomasLucente.

To a true patriot, there is nothing more satisfying than watching a free people exercise their natural, God-given rights.

Why the NFL players are taking a knee during the national anthem is irrelevant. It does not matter if they are protesting the most egregious violation of human rights or that the pregame water tasted funky.

What is important is that we live in a nation in which people’s rights are not only recognized and protected but also exercised.

Liberty works.

More than 1 million men and women have made the ultimate sacrifice to ensure that Americans have the right to take a knee during the playing of the national anthem, sit during a recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, or desecrate the American flag.

As despicable as those acts might be, it is even more contemptible when people want to use the force of law to silence those protests.

The flag, the national anthem and all the other symbols of America are meant to represent liberty, the American ideal for which we strive but don’t always reach.

However, when we start abrogating rights such as free speech, then the national anthem and the flag become nothing but empty symbols, worthless and meaningless.

Trying to force a free people to honor a symbol or a song is not only ludicrous, it is the antithesis of liberty, it is anathema to freedom. That is not how we should behave.

Sure, there are limits. Employers can limit speech in the workplace, but that has not been the case in the NFL as commissioner Roger Goodell said he was proud of the players. Also, there is nothing requiring fans to continue to spend their money on the NFL.

The right to take a knee during the national anthem or to desecrate a flag is a God-given natural right to expression.

One can look at such behavior as a slap in the face, especially to veterans. However, it is, at its core, the end result of why veterans fight. Veterans who advocate using the force of law to silence protesters are violating their sacred oath to “support and defend the Constitution of the United States” and to “bear true faith and allegiance to the same.” The oath says nothing about a flag or a song.

We all know freedom is not free. It is also not easy.

It is effortless to support freedom for nice things. After all, it would be hard to find someone opposed to allowing people the freedom to eat fruit and write glowing essays pertaining to how nice it is to live in America. Even tyrants allow their people those kinds of facile freedoms.

It is harder, though, to support freedom for things to which one is opposed. For instance, allowing the Ku Klux Klan to spew its hate in the town square, permitting the war protester to desecrate the American flag, tolerating the NFL player taking a knee during the national anthem.

It is for these kinds of freedoms that American men and women for more than two centuries have taken up arms against the enemies of liberty, many never to return home. We can’t pick and choose the rights we like and toss the rest. If we are to be a truly free society, then we must tolerate that which may upset us or turn our stomachs.

Ignoring the sacrifices of our veterans by restricting free speech and other fundamental, God-given natural rights is the real slap in the face.

It is easy to understand the anger of those offended by the actions of the players, misguided as it is. But the whole issue is grounded in emotions rather than a love of liberty.

In the end, one can’t extol the virtues of America and the sacrifices made by her veterans by trying to abrogate the very freedoms for which those veterans fought, including the right to free expression.

It is not the flag or a song that inspires the soldier, sailor or Marine. It is what the flag and song stand for that allows the 21-year-old grunt to charge into certain death for his country.

If you truly wish to honor the sacrifices made by this nation’s sons and daughters, then you should protect the Constitution and not some symbol or song. If you are truly dedicated to the principles upon which this country was founded, then the right to take a knee during the national anthem, to desecrate the American flag, or to spew hate in the town square, regardless of how offensive it is, cannot be abridged.

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By Thomas J. Lucente Jr.

tlucente@limanews.com

ONLY ON LIMAOHIO.COM

See past columns by Thomas J. Lucente Jr. at http://j.mp/ThomasLucente.

Thomas J. Lucente Jr. is an attorney and night editor of The Lima News. Reach him by telephone at 567-242-0398, by email at tlucente@limanews.com, or on Twitter @ThomasLucente.

Thomas J. Lucente Jr. is an attorney and night editor of The Lima News. Reach him by telephone at 567-242-0398, by email at tlucente@limanews.com, or on Twitter @ThomasLucente.