Kindly STFU While I Talk About How Much I Respect Freedom Of Speech

illustrated sign that says no

There is an epidemic in the US. A problem that seems to target a certain group of people. An injustice that puts a pit in my stomach and tears in my eyes. I can’t seem to do so much as check Twitter for more than a few days without another story, another name, another hashtag. And I can’t just sit by idly anymore. I need to say something.

People aren’t standing for the National Anthem, and it hurts my fee-fees.

I’m totally fine with protesting as long as it’s done in a way that is non-violent, non-offensive, and just generally not noticeable at all. If you think that’s counterintuitive to freedom of speech, well that’s your right to think that. Because I respect rights. But only when they don’t hurt my fee-fees. And lucky for me, it’s my right to get angry about you expressing your rights. It’s a human centipede of rights expression. Anyway, I’ve come up with a few better ways to protest during the National Anthem so my fee-fees stop getting hurt.

  1. Stand for the National Anthem with your knees slightly bent. It’s like a subtle squat. And nothing says exercising your rights like literally exercising! But only a little bit! Don’t get carried away and go into a full fledged squat because that is almost like not standing and would be very confusing for my fee-fees.
  2. Instead of protesting maybe try bro-testing. A DNA test to see if you are brothers! With whom? Anyone! For what? Because! Is relevant? What are that!
  3. Stand extra upright. Like, weirdly upright. Everyone will notice and be confused. AND they probably won’t ask you about it just in case it’s an awkward habit you have and don’t want to bring attention to it. That sounds like some A+ protesting to me!
  4. Before the National Anthem starts, whisper the protest into your hand. Put the whisper into your pocket. Feed the whisper snacks at half-time. Never let the whisper go.
  5. Stand but sing sarcastically.
  6. Stand but cross your fingers to negate the whole thing.
  7. Stand but say “psych” quietly under your breath after each verse.
  8. Stand but use air quotes when you sing.
  9. Be quiet for 100 years and then come back as a ghost and be like “told you.”
  10. Stand but envision yourself sitting.

See? So easy! This is the exact kind of discourse our forefathers would have wanted, if they would have been cool with ladies and minorities and poor people having as many rights to exercise as wealthy, land-owning white men. People have died for your right to free speech and to protest. That’s right. Died. There are people that are dead. Families who are mourning. Friends who grieve. People who fear for their safety and life in ways you and I can’t imagine.

How many people have died for your thingie? Almost 100 just this month? And it seems to disproportionately affect one group of people? Well, of course you have to go and make it a race thing. I wasn’t even going to bring up race, because being black in America is not a thing I think about on a regular basis. And if I, a non-black person, can wake up every day without any reminder of how I live in a country that was built by a system that legally enslaved people based on the color of the skin, why can’t everyone? Don’t we want to live in a post-racial America? Legal segregation ended TENS of years ago. My grandparents can barely remember it. We could all learn a lesson about living in a post-racial America from my white grandparents.

And at the end of the day, all lives matter. Except for when it’s inconvenient or uncomfortable or makes me see outside a perspective other than my own and reevaluate the way I look at and experience the world. Then, some matter more.

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