BY: MATT PECORARO
Are the actions of Colin Kaepernick justified? Is kneeling for the pledge an act of disrespect or a justified protest? Following weeks of political debate around the nation, largely stemming from the comments of the President, the North Babylon High School Chapter of Next Generation Politics decided to hold a roundtable discussion on this very issue.
From the start, all participants agreed that NFL Players, and anybody for that matter, have the constitutional right to kneel during the pledge. Discourse began with disagreements over President Trump’s comments indicating that players who kneel should be fired, with some justifying it as his right to freedom of speech and others criticizing it for indicating punishment for others exercising their rights. All people present disagreed with President Trump’s choice of words when describing people who partake in such protests.
The debate later shifted to a discussion over whether or not kneeling for the pledge is disrespectful. Although every participant personally would not kneel, some disagreed that the act in it of itself conveys disrespect. Questions were tossed about regarding the meaning of the pledge, whether or not soldiers fight for the pledge, the country, or both, and whether or not protests can ultimately be respectful. All in all, most of the group thought the action to be disrespectful but some thought it to be justified as a form of protest.
The conversation from here changed into a debate over what it means for a protest to be civil and effective. Although there was little debate over whether or not these protests are civil, there was a large debate over whether or not they are excessive. Many people present saw it as just (as, according to them, the only way to effectively protest is to make it noticed). Those who remained thought it as excessive, because their point had already been publicized.
Once the conversation simmered to a halt, both sides had compromised on some issues and agreed to disagree on others. All in all, participants had a productive discussion and all participants had a renewed appreciation for civil discourse.