National Anathema

A man¹ once said, “Anything not worth doing isn’t worth doing well.” It is in this spirit I continue living. It is also in this spirit I compost, or compose this post, steaming and probably full of shit.

So, I hear that a Football Guy refused to stand² for what must have been a rousing rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” As I have lamented before, I don’t know a goddamned thing about football and I’m not going to pretend to now. I do have the notion that on the grand scale of sports and politics its viewership is, on average, to the left of NASCAR and to the right of the WNBA.

I’ve already done an impromptu poll of the people whose opinions I respect. They’re all somewhere in the neighborhood of, “The guy can do whatever the fuck he wants,” so I’m satisfied this is the reasonable stance. Either that or it’s the myopia of my hugbox. Either way, I’m not interested in conversing with frothy Trumpians or some guy in a cowboy hat and big shades yell-asking if I’m Ready for Some Football (it’s a Monday Night Par-tay) or anyone who thinks we should definitely change it to “Free Bird.”

It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that our National Anthem has an almost-never-sung verse about slaves being slaughtered. Those two things are important, though. Our country was built on the backs of slaves and we don’t like to talk about it, but we don’t sing that part because the song is long and shitty³, not because of some secret shame about the song itself. If you want to run up against that star-spangled brick wall then have at it. Call your Congressperson. If you’re a billionaire, or his (let’s face it, it’s probably He) physician, or his CPA, or his mom, or his frat brother, expect immediate returns. At most you’re going to get some sort of regulation passed, which will say the offending verse we never sing is officially deleted from the song we’ll continue to sing.

Hell, the Russians change theirs all the time to suit their political needs. In all fairness, I wouldn’t ditch that tune either. It’s pretty fucking inspirational, and on that note, have you not ever had frisson, chills, as the Star-Spangled Banner plays? We can get Internet Angry about things all day long, but I recall plenty of times that standing for the anthem (or better yet, having the honor of performing it) felt so fucking good. I understand the psychological phenomena behind this but I can still acknowledge what works. People go to church for a reason, and it’s not the windy sermons.

I keep trying to place myself in the future as I think about this. I imagine looking at the On This Day function on Facebook one year from now and thinking, “Oh, has it already been a year since that fiasco? So much has happened since then.” In two years, I’d think, “Wow, if only we’d known what was to come.” In five, “I cannot believe we spent a moment considering this when there are literally mountains of cop-executed bodies strewn behind us.” In ten, “My God, what have we done?”

I’ll say the last one no matter what comes to pass. Twenty years on Facebook? The Horror.

Someone⁶ once told me, “Bob, when you argue South Parkian Third Side you’re effectively telling people to ‘shut up.'” Maybe I am telling you to shut the fuck up, partly because I enjoy it and I’m so goddamned good at it, but there is a point to all this. We need to redirect our ire lest we get our priorities all fucked up. There’s a problem in this nation when some people can do this without fear of reprisal and others get this treatment for being suicidal.

How many fucking Dredd-worthy street executions do we have to view before we stop screaming about symptoms and cure the disease? Holy shit, Judge Dredd isn’t even an accurate analogy because he wouldn’t have shot the guy. He wouldn’t have shot any of the long list of people who have been murdered in the streets.

I don’t have the answers. I do know that I posted a video of my suspenders flying off and got over 100 interactions, but I posted a link to Javier Garcia’s murder yesterday and I got two. Two little Facebook angry faces. Blame The Almighty Algorithm, blame it being a Sunday, blame political exhaustion, blame the fact that you unfollowed me for being a dick on a previous occasion, but also blame our frivolity.

Yeah, I know. I know you can be angry about more than one thing at a time. I know that you can talk about ridiculous shit and grave fucking events in the same breath because yeah, we’re humans. We’re silly people and that’s how we Internet. Thing is, the Anthem may or may not change, but the presence or absence of a verse no one was aware of or sang anyhow isn’t going to save a single life.

There are legal minds and sociopolitical scientists who have the solutions. There are some of you who have friends and family in high places and you could have some influence, but most of you, like me, are limited to donating our time, our money, and screaming. I love to yell at clouds like everyone else, but when someone engages in public protest or civil disobedience don’t get stuck on the disobedience. Point to the reason, which is this pile of corpses over here, then think of the myriad ways you can contribute to the cure.

Step one is copy/pasting this onto a dank gorilla meme. It’s the only way.

¹ Robert Fulghum, author of All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.
⁵ Russian National Anthem
⁶ My ex-wife. The first one.
⁷ Police State by Gerry Spence, an attorney who has worked his entire life in our justice system and has a detailed plan for what needs to be fixed, from the street to the courtroom. There are solutions.