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NFL rule aims to silence protest

Would women have the right to vote today if they were told by men to only protest inside their homes? Would African-Americans have equal protection under the law if the Civil Rights movement had been confined to the churches?

Would the students of Parkland accomplish anything in terms of gun reform if they were ordered to keep their opinions inside school walls?

The history of nonviolent social reform is a history of doing what is needed without asking for permission.

On May 23, NFL team owners approved a policy giving players the option of staying in the locker room during the national anthem if they don't wish to stand during the ceremonies.

Players who choose to be on the field during the anthem will be required to stand. If they don't, their team will be penalized by the NFL.

How will the players respond? Will they take their protest against racism, police brutality, and systemic injustice inside where no one can see them or will they resist the order to obey and risk being fined or even fired?

One thing is clear. The NFL owners acted with genuine cowardice. Their call to get attention back on football is blatantly hypocritical. As if football is all they care about. As if selling beer, cars, merchandise, sex, and tourism is not part of the NFL package.

The NFL owners say it is important for players to honor the flag, anthem, and moment. They say the NFL-sponsored community programs is how real change will be made. They say all players must stand on the field because that is what fans want. They say their decision respected everybody's point of view the best they could.

The owners say a lot. But what do the players say? What say do they have? What rights do they have to express their concerns peacefully? Who silenced their voice?

As with every major social justice movement in this country, from women's suffrage to the Parkland students fighting for gun reform, the only way voices of dissent are heard is for dissent to happen.

The NFL owners have tried to silence their players' protest by hiding it in the locker room. They have tried to make this move about football when it is really about their own personal interests. And they have tried to take the attention off the issue, by making the issue more about the players than about what they are kneeling for.

The line has been drawn. Who dares cross it?

GEORGE CASSIDY PAYNE

Addressing our gun violence

I have a potential remedy for the gun violence infesting our country. On both a state and federal level, we should do the following:

1) Assess civil and criminal liability on people who own the guns most commonly used in mass shootings and who, for one reason or another, demonstrate negligence in how these weapons are obtained and used;

2) Require liability insurance for the high powered guns.

If you have to buy insurance for boats, businesses, etc., why not guns?

DAVID HENNELLY


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