When the Colin Kaepernick controversy first began, I tweeted something pretty bitchy and reactionary, mainly because I have a distaste for celebrities–I wasn’t thinking so much about the issue he was protesting or how he did it.
And the particular issue isn’t what this post is about either. I’ve given my thoughts on that issue here.
What I want to talk about goes back to what kind of culture we want here in the US, and what free speech means.
I’m not speaking legalistically, just culturally. So many these days call themselves “Free Speech Activists” or “Free Speech Extremists,” but what does just even mean?
Volume does not equal righteousness. I suppose this is why celebrities popping off irks me so much, even though I fully support their right to think and say whaveher the hell they want. What bugs me is that we seem to give them extra credence because they can amplify to a degree is regular folk can’t match.
Technology is changing this, of course, giving regular people the chance to opine and get a message across. But even with non-celebs, we fall into the trap of thinking that “he who is loudest is right.”
This is different than “he who is loudest, wins.” That is true.
And this is at the root of why celebrity “activism” used to bother me. It seems like they have an unfair advantage.
In the past I subscribed to the philosophy of “Shut up and sing.” We don’t pay you to opine, dammit, we pay you to sing or play or act or perform! Keep the politics out of it!
But this is a childish attitude because it too often translates to “shut up and sing…unless you agree with me.”
This is immature and un-American.
Everybody, including celebrities, can and should exercise free speech. I’m glad I live in a country where Colin Kaepernick can sit down for the national anthem without getting arrested, or worse, even though I think by and large he is incorrect about things.
Hell, lots of times I don’t feel like standing for the anthem, and I love this country.
Isn’t reciting the pledge of allegiance also kind of weird, when you think of it? Patriotism is good, but I pledge me allegiance to God at the end of the day, not politicians.
Anyway, my point is that I prefer a culture where everybody can have their opinions and exercise their beliefs–as long as they don’t kill anybody–and where everybody else can appropriately respond.
The barriers are shrinking, and regular folk have more ability to make an impact; see the journalism work non-traditional journalists like Mike Cernovich have been doing lately to drive the news cycle (Mike and I, incidentally, agree on the Kaepernick fiasco and how it relates to free speech).
So Colin Kaepernick has a loud megaphone. He got to this point through hard work and dedication combined with natural talent. His loud megaphone doesn’t make him necessarily right…but it doesn’t make him necessarily wrong, either.
If you don’t like what a celebrity has to say, exercise your free speech right to not consume what they produce. Vote with your dollar.
As always, you be the judge. And please, avoid knee-jerk reactions. I know personally that this is a very difficult thing to do.
Follow me on Twitter @DaytimeRenegade
And check out my Instagram here.