Commentary

Say what? McCrory is simply wrong about ECU and anthem protests

ecu-bandIn case you missed it, there was another inane take voiced late yesterday on the controversy surrounding the East Carolina University band and the peaceful protest by several band members during the playing of the national anthem at last week’s football game. Sadly, it came from North Carolina Governor Pat McCrory, who presumed to state his opinion about when and where it’s appropriate for students and others to exercise their First Amendment free speech rights.As Jane Stancill of Raleigh’s News & Observer reports:

“In videos of TV interviews distributed by McCrory’s re-election campaign, the governor called the band members’ kneeling protest ‘extremely inappropriate.’

‘They have every right to express their First Amendment rights outside the stadium,’ he said.

McCrory suggested that the band members were running afoul of the rules when they made a statement on the football field in solidarity with demonstrations nationally against police shootings of African-Americans.

‘There are rules and guidelines in our society, and when you put on the uniform of a band you have to follow the rules and guidelines of that uniform,’ McCrory added. ‘I wonder if we had every member of every band start going, ‘I’ve got a political opinion,’ and they just walk away from the performance and hold up a sign.’”

Fortunately, Allen Johnson of the Greensboro News & Record has some on-the-money criticism for the Guv:

“So, the first amendment does not apply in football stadiums?

Where do you draw the line?

What about the fan who sits behind home plate at most Washington Nationals baseball games wearing a ‘Make America Great Again’ hat?

What about appearances by politicians during halftimes?

Or first pitches tossed by presidents and governors?

What about the fans who boo when presidents and governors toss out first pitches?

The band members’ protest was silent and dignified and disrupted nothing.

Nobody walked away from a performance and carried a sign.

ECU’s chancellor, Cecil Station, offered a more thoughtful response than McCrory’s, noting:

‘While we acknowledge and understand the disappointment felt by many Pirate fans in response to the events at the beginning of today’s football game, we urge all Pirate students, supporters and participants to act with respect for each other’s views. Civil discourse is an East Carolina value and part of our ECU creed. We are proud that recent campus conversations on difficult issues have been constructive, meaningful exchanges that helped grow new understanding among our campus community. East Carolina will safeguard the right to free speech, petition and peaceful assembly as assured by the U.S. Constitution.’

Strangely enough, the governor made no comment about the reaction of some ECU fans, who booed and threw bottles and yelled racial slurs at the band.

That seems more un-American to me.

And it’s deeply disappointing that the governor chose not to address it.”

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