As nationwide protests against the “Star-Spangled Banner” continue, the varied opinions and responses also keep rolling in.
The East Carolina University marching band was met with boos when several members kneeled during the national anthem before a football game last Saturday.
According to Mashable, the university’s music department administrators declared that future protests by band members would “not be tolerated,” however, Chancellor Cecil Staton said in a statement that the students’ action is “part of the free exchange of ideas on a university campus.”
"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," Staton's statement read.
Taking things a step further, a marketing professor at the university, located in Greenville, North Carolina, made statements suggesting that as a counter-protest, she would carry her gun on campus.
Her words imply that by bringing a firearm to campus, she would be exercising her Second Amendment right in the same way that the band members were expressing their First Amendment rights by kneeling.
Professor Tracy Tuten did not seem to agree with the chancellor backing the students’ right to protest, so she wrote an email response to Staton outlining her rebuttal.
“Since the band members can act on the first amendment without regard to university rules, I too want to act on my second amendment rights to bear arms,” she wrote.
"Even though I was stalked for more than a year by a student, I have respected the university guidelines for bearing arms," Tuten continued.
While university guidelines restrict Tuten’s ability to follow through on such a threat, the fact that she feels bringing a gun on a college campus is equivalent to peacefully kneeling while a song plays is absurd.
According to the school’s website, permitted gun owners can bring their weapon to the campus on the grounds that it, “is a handgun, is in a closed compartment or container within the person’s locked vehicle, and the vehicle is in a parking area that is owned or leased by the University.”
The rules also state, “a person may unlock the vehicle to enter or exit the vehicle, provided the handgun remains in the closed compartment at all times and the vehicle is locked immediately following the entrance or exit."
If Tuten plans to disobey these policies, she would be deliberately going against regulations. However, there are no conditions written or stated prohibiting anyone from refusing to stand at attention during the national anthem.
Once news of Tuten’s email got out, she began to make national headlines and receive backlash for her inconsiderate response to the band’s protest and for her plans to, essentially, break the law.
She eventually took to Facebook to clarify her statements, or in other words, do damage control.
“It is important that I make it clear that I do not intend to commit any felonies. I want to shine a light on the hypocrisy of supporting first amendment rights but not second amendment rights. All of our rights are important,” she wrote.
“There is an opportunity to hold a peaceful and legal demonstration to support these rights. At this time, I am researching what form of demonstration will fall within the law and effectively communicate our message.”
Tuten is right about one thing, all of our rights are important.
However, fighting for racial equality and pushing to fulfill your desire to brandish a dangerous weapon whenever and wherever you want simply do not compare.
They are two very separate issues that shouldn’t even be in the same conversation, let alone regarded as if they are equivalent.
Banner Photo Credit: Twitter @Bernlennials