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Colin Kaepernick (1987–) is an American football player, well-known for his role as a quarterback with the San Francisco 49ers, taking over for the injured starter Alex Smith. He's better-known for his 2016 protests, in which he knelt during the United States national anthem to protest police brutality and other forms of racial inequality. Protests, especially in the US, aren't exactly rare — so part of the reason why Kaepernick's actions were so memorable is the insane blowback that he received from a medley of winguts nationwide, attacking him for being "disrespectful", or "disrespecting the troops and flag", as if being upset about racism and trying to draw attention to it by protesting publicly is somehow an attack on US military personnel. How they came to that conclusion, we will never know.
However, this does suggest that conservative "support" for free speech is hypocritical, since as soon as they realize the existence of any speech they find
politically incorrect offensive, their first reaction is to call for its immediate stoppage or even outright censorship. In an even more blatant example of conservative wingnuttery, NASCAR owners said they'd fire anyone who didn't stand for the national anthem. No cries of "censorship" from the right-wing "free speech warriors" on that note, though.
A prominent shit-take came from Mike Ditka, a former Chicago Bears coach, opined that "If you don't respect our country, then you shouldn't be in this country playing football … So I would say, adios.". He also maintained that "there has been no oppression in the last 100 years that I know of." Wow, thanks Mike!
The whole affair is also a lesson in corporate cynicism. Nike almost dropped Kaepernick in 2016 but eventually stayed on, cashing in on a campaign called 'Nike — Dream Crazy', which encouraged people to believe in something, "even if it meant sacrificing everything".[note 1]
Kaepernick hasn't played since 2016. He is still a free agent at the time of writing, though. This makes it possible that he may have been blackballed for his beliefs. If the shoe were on the other foot, and a conservative were blackballed for their point of view, this would have inevitably been seized upon and trumpeted to the skies as a crisis of free speech by the right, and would make for a front-page article on their oh-so-reliable
Faux Fox News.
- No mention of the fact that Kaepernick is a millionaire sportsman, of course. Did he really sacrifice 'everything'?