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The criticisms against NFL star Colin Kaepernick for not standing for the National Anthem have included words like “disrespectful” and “unpatriotic.”

But “illegal”? That’s what Christian Right leader Bryan Fischer claims.


There is no question that Kaepernick is violating federal law by kneeling or sitting rather than standing and placing his hand over his heart while the national anthem is played.

His evidence for this is the U.S. Code (which, by itself, has no legal authority). Section 301 says that when the Anthem is being played, civilians “should face the flag and stand at attention with their right hand over the heart.”

That’s it. It’s a recommendation. The First Amendment, which has legal authority, says you don’t have to follow that recommendation.

Not that Fischer cares.

The fact that there is no penalty prescribed means you won’t get in trouble with the federal government for not obeying. But just because you won’t get it in trouble doesn’t mean you are not violating federal law. Kaepernick can transgress this law with impunity, but that doesn’t change the plain fact that he is disobeying the law.

He’s literally not disobeying the law. He’s exercising his rights. You don’t have to like it, but whatever your arguments are against his actions, calling them illegal makes no sense at all. By Fischer’s logic, everyone watching the game at home while sitting on the couch and plenty of people getting snacks at the stadium before the game starts are all criminals.

Maybe if he cared as much about making the nation a better place instead of trying to punish those who love the country so much they wish it could do better in certain areas, we’d get somewhere.

(Screenshot via YouTube. Thanks to Sean for the link)

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Hemant Mehta is the founder of, a YouTube creator, podcast co-host, and author of multiple books about atheism. He can be reached at @HemantMehta.