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A Sign that Political
Correctness is Upon Us
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opinion columns
by Richard Harris

From the Jan. 31, 2018 issue of The Journal
   Many years ago I was a regular reader of Sports Illustrated (SI) magazine. I became a subscriber when I also worked as a sports editor for a newspaper.
   My favorite feature of the

magazine was its tongue-in-cheek "This Week's Sign that the Apocalypse is Upon Us". It featured a short summary of something out of the ordinary – sometimes serious, but usually lighthearted and funny.
   I haven't seen the magazine in years, but I knew it still existed because each year the national media reports on its controversial Swimsuit Issue (and I'm sure they love the free publicity).
   After a quick web search, I found that my favorite feature of the magazine is still active. It may not be the most accurate prognostication (after more than 20 years of "signs", the Apocalypse has yet to arrive). However, the feature is still entertaining. SI describes it as, "Tales of frenzied fans, egomaniacal coaches, athletes who run afoul of the law, mind-boggling bureaucracy, violent behavior, and tastelessness run amok."
   A recent sign (July 18, 2016) was, "A Georgia Southern athletic department staffer did 10 extra-credit assignments for two football players—who still didn't pass the class."
   Another recent "sign" was, "If you're in Cleveland and ask your iPhone, 'Where is sadness?' Siri responds with directions to FirstEnergy Stadium, home of the Browns."
   I wonder if they also still tackle serious topics on occasion. If so, they need look no further than the program for this year's Super Bowl.
   The National Football League rejected an ad submitted by a veterans organization (American Veterans - AMVETS). The ad (pictured above) features military personnel with the U.S. Flag and the hashtag #PleaseStand.
   NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said the ad was rejected because it "could be considered by some as a political statement". He added that the NFL offered to allow them to edit the ad to read, "Please Honor Our Veterans". During the back-and-forth, the veterans organization apparently missed the deadline for the program.
   Most people are probably aware that some NFL players have been kneeling during the National Anthem this season. Many fans have complained and some have stopped watching games, while the NFL has explained that it believes its players have a right to express their beliefs by kneeling. I believe the NFL, as a business, has the right to allow the players to kneel, even though I personally find it offensive and I think the players could find a better way to voice their opinions.
   I also believe the NFL has a right to refuse any advertisements it doesn't want to publish. As a publisher who has refused advertisements from fortunetellers and questionable "chat lines", etc., I'd be a hypocrite to complain about other businesses having the same freedom.
   However, while I agree with their right to make the decision, I don't understand why they made it.
   Have we really come to the point in the United States of America where simply asking people to please stand for the National Anthem/flag is offensive? I think I would have understood if the advertisement (for which the veterans organization was willing to pay $30,000) called players who kneel by some sort of derogatory name or if it was tasteless in some legitimate manner.
   AMVETS even went out of its way to say they understand that everyone – including players who kneel – has the right of freedom of speech.
   AMVETS National Commander Marion Polk wrote, "Freedom of speech works both ways. We respect the rights of those who choose to protest, as these rights are precisely what our members have fought — and in many cases died — for. But imposing corporate censorship to deny that same right to those veterans who have secured it for us all is reprehensible and totally beyond the pale."
   I was raised by a veteran father and spent many hours around uncles who also served. They inspired myself and every single male first cousin who grew up around them to follow in their footsteps – Navy, Marines, Air Force. I'm proud to say that while we respect Americans' right to complain about their government (we do our fair share), we are dyed in the wool 'Merica Men who simply cannot fathom why standing for the National Anthem is controversial, offensive, or political.
   I have some veteran friends who are more tolerant of those who don't stand, so I'm not trying to speak for everyone – just myself and my family of vets.
   It's probably not a sign that the Apocalypse is Upon Us, but I believe it is definitely a sign that Political Correctness is.