Don’t let your ‘right’ be wrong | Opinion | The Press and Standard
by The Press and Standard | October 8, 2017 5:00 am
Last Updated: October 4, 2017 at 2:48 pm
There’s more to life than the 1st Amendment.
While it is true that the 1st Amendment gives us the right as Americans to freely speak, it is also true that there are places which it is inappropriate. Our freedom of speech is not being taken away when we are in a library, a funeral service or sitting in a classroom. The fact remains that we maintain our right to free speech, but this is not the time or the place for that right to be exercised. Although “The Byrds” made the song, “Turn! Turn! Turn!” famous in the 60s, they did not create the thought for the lyrics to their song. King Solomon, the wisest man in history wrote the original thought-line in the Book of Ecclesiastes, chapter 3, verses 1-8
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven:
“A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted;
“A time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
“A time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
“A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
“A time to get, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
“A time to rend, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
“A time to love, and a time to hate; a time of war, and a time of peace.”
King Solomon did not do away with the “right” to speak — he just said there was a time for speaking and a time to be silent.
Honoring and respecting one’s surroundings and the atmosphere of the setting does not eliminate or voluntarily relinquish any of our rights. We just demonstrate ourselves to be a people with enough civility, decency and respect that we conduct ourselves according to the honorable opportunity in which we are currently engaged. So, though I may not agree with the person or positions held by the person in the casket doesn’t mean I should protest and demonstrate my opposition during their funeral service. There’s just too much that is held as dear and sacred by the fact that someone has died for me to mock the decency of the funeral with my right to speak out and protest.
Neither should I rise up in a library and voice my protests over books or authors with whom I find disagreement. Although I do have the right, it is neither the time nor the place for such an act of disrespecting myself and those who have come for a different purpose than me.
For a person to hold to the right to kneel or raise a fist or sit during the National Anthem is just another of many such illustrations where we are not giving up a right, we are simply honoring those who have sacrificed for our freedoms by standing for the National Anthem — and saving our protests for the proper time and place.
For the NFL to use its platform to join in the protests is somewhat of an oxymoron. They are the National Football League, and by being the National Football League, they are held to a higher standard as they represent all of America in the game of football. (We could say the same for the NBA, NHL, and MLB with American and National Leagues.)
It’s a matter of ethics and respect — the very things the left “claims” to be embracing while making their protests. When a person (especially in a position of influence) makes a public statement or protest, they must be aware of the responsibility they have accepted by initiating what they may not be able to control.
What seems like a simple or innocent protest of sitting while the National Anthem is played is, in reality, a key that unlocks the door for others to be creative in their own version of the same protest. Don’t think that influencers are not accountable for their instigation of violence and proliferation of unruly acts of vandalism. These demonstrators call themselves protesters and somehow feel that they have the “right” to break windows, burn police cars, loot and destroy.
Celebrities, sports stars and anyone else in a position of leadership and influence should not ever lower the standards of decency and human dignity by instigating a protest of such an icon of our liberty as the flag or the National Anthem or the service and sacrifice of police, military, and their families. You should have enough dignity about yourself and enough respect for those who fought and died for the freedom we enjoy today.
United States Code, 36 U.S.C. §301, states that during a rendition of the National Anthem, when the flag is displayed, all present except those in uniform should stand at attention, facing the flag with the right hand over the heart; members of the Armed Forces and veterans who are present and not in uniform may render the military salute; men not in uniform should remove their headdress with their right hand and hold the headdress at the left shoulder, the hand being over the heart; and individuals in uniform should give the military salute at the first note of the anthem and maintain that position until the last note; and when the flag is not displayed, all present should face toward the music and act in the same manner they would if the flag were displayed. Military law requires all vehicles on the installation to stop when the song is played and all individuals outside to stand at attention and face the direction of the music and either salute, in uniform, or place the right hand over the heart, if out of uniform. A law passed in 2008 allows military veterans to salute out of uniform, as well.
Yes, you may have the “right,” but never let your right be wrong.
(Tony Jones is the pastor of Faith Baptist Church in Walterboro.)