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J.T. Brown On The National Anthem Debate

from Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times,

Lightning wing J.T. Brown wants to make one thing clear.

"I have no ill will towards John Tortorella," he said.

That doesn't mean Brown, 26, agrees with everything the Team USA coach says. And Brown, 26, an African American, took to Twitter this week to let his voice be heard on Tortorella's statement that he'd bench any Team USA player who didn't stand for the national anthem, like 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick has famously done. Kaepernick has kneeled/sat during the anthem in protest of America's treatment of minorities.

"Wouldn't benching a black man for taking a stance only further prove Kap's point of oppression?" Brown tweeted...

Brown wanted to explain his perspective, which he did Thursday in a statement to the Tampa Bay Times.

“I’d like to make it clear that I have no ill will towards John Tortorella. I do not know him. I responded to a story on Twitter with my opinion and that was how I saw it. He sees the situation through his reality and I see it through mine, as a black athlete in the NHL. I know I’m not on the United States World Cup roster, but I have had a chance to represent my country on other occasions. My tweet was a hypothetical.  What if I took a stance to promote awareness for one of the many injustices still occurring in our country and was punished despite there being no rule or law against it?  My tweet was a response to that question....

read on for more from Brown...

Filed in: NHL Teams, Tampa Bay Lightning, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: j.t.+brown

Comments

Ataris18's avatar

I’m sorry and i know this isn’t the biggest place for political debate.  I guess the players have right to sit that isnt anything i care about, they just have to realize that the public than has the right to react and be unhappy with that situation.  But I’m not here to start that up.


Here is what I really don’t understand if this would happen for the USA hockey team. And the Stephen A. Smith thing from yesterday was aggravating to hear (but that is what most of his crap is anyhow).  If you are really trying to “BOYCOTT” or show that you don’t agree with things or something then DON’T play for TEAM USA. To think that someone would play for TEAM USA and then sit during the anthem is just mind boggling.  Boycott the team to prove your point not a song.  As for the NFL or other leagues whatever i don’t care what they do.

I’m very glad that we haven’t had to deal with this with hockey (...don’t jinx it…)

Posted by Ataris18 from House on 09/08/16 at 10:38 AM ET

Primis's avatar

Everyone wants the freedom to make their opinion public… until there are potentially then consequences for it.  Then they rail against the consequences as “unfair” and cite their “right to free speech”.

Tortorella will have consequences for making his opinion public.
Kaepernick is (maybe) having consequences for making his opinion public.
A Team USA player protesting would have consequences for doing so, and Tortorella would have consequences for acting on it.

Here’s the thing:  if your willingness to state your opinion only goes as far as until it has actual consequences…. then how dear do you actually hold it, and how important is it *actually* to you?  It’s REALLY EASY to “take a stand” if there’s no possible threat to you to do so, and that seems to be what a lot of people want anymore.

The First Amendment guarantees freedom of speech from GOVERNMENT consequences, not from any other consequences.  It does not protect you from others thinking you’re a self-absorbed tool, or an idiot, or from them stating so publicly.  It does NOT protect you from public criticism in *any* way.  And I don’t think a lot of people actually grasp that anymore, what the First Amendment is and grants.  People’ve twisted it in their minds ot mean something else, but it has not changed the LEGAL definition of it.

But isn’t it amazing how people are willing to take a stand, but not willing to accept its consequences, whether they’re obvious, tangible ones… or more-subtle ones that are making a bit of a “longer burn”?  They want it both ways (people on both sides of the issue), and that’s just not how things work folks.

Let me know when Kaepernick starts getting repeatedly, heavily fined, or benched, or cut and blackballed, and still refuses to stop (WITHOUT then trying to use the legal system to get it all back—again with the “have their cake and eat it too” thing).  Or when Tortorella benches someone, gets told by Team USA to stop, and does it again anyways risking his job because he’s refusing to compromise.  Because THEN I’ll listen to you, and believe you that it *is* actually important to you.

Because let’s be honest here, without those consequences being a reality (or potentially one), IT IS ALL JUST NOTHING BUT GRANDSTANDING EITHER WAY.  Spouting controversial or unpopular opinions with no fear of consequences is not an act of any kind of “courage”, especially speaking in nothing but hypotheticals.

Posted by Primis on 09/08/16 at 10:43 AM ET

Avatar

Here’s the thing:  if your willingness to state your opinion only goes as far as until it has actual consequences…. then how dear do you actually hold it, and how important is it *actually* to you?  It’s REALLY EASY to “take a stand” if there’s no possible threat to you to do so, and that seems to be what a lot of people want anymore.

@primus.  I agree with what you are saying… however it appears to some people (including me) that Kaepernick was displaying his opinion not because of his lack of fear towards the consequences of displaying his opinion but rather the fear that he was irrelevant and going to be cut.  By choosing NOW to display his opinion of what he feels to be important enough to sit through the National Anthem, he has cemented himself a job that up until a few weeks ago could justifiably been taken from him by the SF organization.  The justification would have been “not good enough”.

You can be on the side of “sitting through the anthem” and still be on the side of “Kaepernick is using a very public racial issue as a way to keep his job”.  It does not have to be one or the other.  You can say “Everyone has the right to sit during the Anthem and also say Kaepernick is an opportunistic jackass”.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 09/08/16 at 11:01 AM ET

Avatar

Agree with Ataris18 ” you don’t agree with things or something then DON’T play for TEAM USA.”

If you want to take a stand that your country doesn’t do enough for your rights boycott the USA team.

As for Kaepernick, he is playing for a independent company. What they do is their business and how the fans of that team react is up to each individually.  If you are going to make an issue of the anthem, you better expect some blow back.

Posted by Puckbubba on 09/08/16 at 11:10 AM ET

Avatar

Agree with Ataris18 ” you don’t agree with things or something then DON’T play for TEAM USA.”

If you want to take a stand that your country doesn’t do enough for your rights boycott the USA team.

And that is exactly right. If you accept the offer to represent your country, and you choose to use that to protest your country, then you look like a fool. This is why I have no issues with what Torts said.

 

Posted by George0211 on 09/08/16 at 11:16 AM ET

Avatar

My political views don’t seem to fit into a neat box, party label, so much anymore. I’ve always been pretty big on civil liberties, proud of our Bill of Rights, etc. I don’t say that to focus on political views, just as background.

Jumping off on what Primis wrote -  well put and useful in drawing some key distinctions about what free speech means, what the 1st Amendment actually applies to, and the difference between a mere public posture and being willing taking a stand in a way that shows commitment and sacrifice.

I know MLK is a pretty special person in US history, but look at his approach: in facing profound injustice, he wanted to be arrested. He wanted to suffer and asked others to suffer consequences in order to prove a point, to make those injustices visible to the public.

Not saying I am in favor of people being retaliated against for expressing their beliefs, but look at the forum: hockey, the ultimate team-first sport. Or, in Kapernicks case: QB, supposed to be a team leader.

There are so many deeply held, compelling beliefs and maybe causes, that each of us, collectively, might feel passionate about and committed to. But how and where do we choose to express it?

Can you imagine if player A says: I have to raise awareness about the evils of abortion. And then player B says: I have to raise awareness about the evils of war. Player C says I can’t stand up until….
Which cause is personally compelling enough and involves a great enough injustice to be ok, and which one doesn’t? It’s in the eye of the beholder. I don’t see much value in trying to import that stuff directly into sports.

Is it even constructive for the cause you’re supporting?

Are you convincing anyone?

To the extent you’re raising awareness, is it creating more positive action? Are you annoying or repelling as many people as you attract?

These men are very well compensated athletes. Not only are they in a position to make at least as much of a financial impact as any elite doctor or lawyer, they also have the power of celebrity. Think of all of the dozens of sincere, constructive, committed, long-term things that these guys could be doing, that might lead to greater admiration and involvement and progress for their causes.

I get that these guys think that televised events seen by millions are their best chance to make a public statement, but it doesn’t change my conclusions above. 

Re: Brown’s tweet, no I don’t think it would prove anyone’s point about black men (or whatever other not completely specified categories Kappernick and/Brown are saying are oppressed). It would prove that a guy broke a team rule, or coaches rule, and tried to elevate his personal cause above his team , tried to use the positive, non-political attention on all of them to refocus it on his social or political cause. As Primis and others wrote, OK, if it’s that important to you, pay the consequences. If it’s so worth it to you and you’re so convinced you’re right, face the consequences and reveal the oppression. But don’t complain if half of the public thinks: that guy’s a selfish attention hog, and I wanted to watch this to escape politics. I could stand up (or sit down) and say, no, really I think it’s all poor people in this country who are oppressed. And the same would apply to me.

Posted by Lefty30 on 09/08/16 at 03:17 PM ET

NIVO's avatar

just wanna watch some hockey and get back it. nothing more, nothing less. fall is my favorite time of the year. we have NFL, NCAA and of course NHL. What a time to be alive and enjoy sports. Hi-five your buddies and others around and have a good time. If you gotta hate, throw your nerf ball in the direction of those whistle totin’ zebras on the tv!

Posted by NIVO from underpants gnome village on 09/08/16 at 06:03 PM ET

bigfrog's avatar

just wanna watch some hockey and get back it.

Same here. No P.C. in hockey. smirk

Posted by bigfrog on 09/08/16 at 08:35 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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