Sitting, standing, or kneeling during a ceremonial tribute to our nation’s flag is one way to peacefully protest. Recently, this has sparked controversy among most Americans, but why are these rights being questioned? According to Flag Salute and the Pledge of Allegiance, “It is the responsibility of every citizen to show proper respect for his country and its flag.”
This statement isn’t clear. Are citizens obligated to stand to show respect? Is this an ethical issue or disobedience to the law?
An article by CBS on the actions of NFL players reported the opinions of several individuals including Alabama’s Republican nominee for U.S. senate, Roy Moore. He said that this is a legal issue and kneeling during the pledge of allegiance is breaking the law.
However, according to Catherine Ross, a law professor at George Washington University, “When laws are binding they use the word ‘shall.’ Shall is non-negotiable, and not discretionary, ‘Should’ is a recommendation. That is, in the context of patriotic ceremonies, it’s what a civilian should do if they want to follow best practices.”
Ross’s comments show the law is open for interpretation.
In simple terms, no one is legally obligated to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance or the National Anthem. This has become a form of peaceful protest to express one’s opinions on the current state of America. Utilizing a peaceful form of protest can be an effective way to share one’s feelings/opinions without violence. I believe that sharing these opinions can better our nation and these rights should not be moderated.
Whether we sit, stand, or kneel, the fact remains that America was built on freedom, where opinions are welcome and help move our country forward. We must continue to allow freedom of expression and not restrict actions.