Hey, America—Is it less patriotic to kneel or to beat up a child during the national anthem?

Americans seem to have a seriously hard time not messing with freedom when it comes to the national anthem—as well as some super inconsistent definitions of patriotism.

Case in point: A Montana man has been arrested for felony assault after slamming a 13-year-old to the ground during the national anthem prior to a rodeo. The boy was wearing a baseball cap and refused to take it off when Curt James Brockway, 39, asked him to.

The boy swore at Brockway in response, and then the military veteran grabbed the boy the neck and slammed him into the ground. His injuries were so serious he had to be airlifted to a hospital two states away.

After the assault, Brockway insisted to the people at the scene that he had done the right thing because the boy was disrespecting the anthem.


So let me get this straight. It's an abomination to wear a hat or to quietly take a knee during the national anthem, right? It's disrespectful to the flag, to the country, to our veterans, to the souls of those who have died defending our freedom to protest peacefully…

Wait, I'm getting confused. Anyway, it's disrespectful.

But to beat up a child while the anthem plays is...an act of patriotism?

RELATED: No, players aren't 'protesting the anthem.' Fox News' Shep Smith explains perfectly.

Brockway's lawyer says that his client thought he was just doing what President Trump wanted him to do. "His commander in chief is telling people that if they kneel, they should be fired, or if they burn a flag, they should be punished," the lawyer told the Missoulian. "Trump never necessarily says go hurt somebody, but the message is absolutely clear."

He also claims that Brockway had suffered a traumatic brain injury in the past, which impairs his judgment. "There is the defense that his mental illness or brain injury that will be raised, along with permission given by the president," he said.

Isn't that interesting how rhetoric can affect some people.

I'm actually surprised it hasn't happened before. Half of America lost their everlovin' minds when Colin Kaepernick knelt during the national them. (Many people don't know the whole story of how Colin Kaepernick ended up kneeling instead of sitting down during the anthem in the first place. Spoiler: A veteran suggested it. You can read that story here.)

But I've always wondered about the people who get their knickers in a twist over what other people do during the anthem anyway.

I mean, aren't your eyes supposed to be on the flag the whole time during the anthem? If someone isn't making any noise, how do you even know what they're doing while the song is playing? Isn't your responsibility as a patriotic American to fix your reverent gaze on Old Glory while the anthem plays? Why are you looking around at what other people are doing?

RELATED: My anthem kneeling Twitter thread went viral. Here's what it taught me about humanity.

Plus, if someone is sitting, maybe they can't stand. If someone isn't taking off their hat, maybe they have a good reason or maybe they're just being a punk, but either way it's none of your beeswax. That's what living in the land of liberty means. We have guidelines for behavior during the national anthem, but they are guidelines, not laws. We are free to follow our own conscience, even if it doesn't line up with someone else's personal expression of patriotism.

Forced patriotism is literally the opposite of the liberty and freedom the flag is supposed to symbolize. Protest is a favorite patriotic pastime, going all the way back to the Boston Tea Party. Kneeling during the anthem to highlight injustices in America may leave a bad taste in some people's mouths, but it's not illegal, it's not hurting anyone, and it's not limiting anyone else's ability to express their patriotism the way they feel like they should.

Taking violent action against a child during the anthem, on the other, hand? That's like a hundred million times worse than kneeling. It's a hundred million times worse than keeping your hat on during the anthem. The irony would be laughable if it weren't so tragic.

Bottom line: Mind your own patriotism and let others mind theirs. And maybe just keep your eyes on the flag so you won't be triggered by Americans exercising their rights around you.

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Anne Hebert, a marketing writer living in Austin, TX, jokes that her closest friends think that her hobby is "low-key harassment for social good". She authors a website devoted entirely to People Doing Good Things. She's hosted a yearly canned food drive with up to 150 people stopping by to donate, resulting in hundreds of pounds of donations to take to the food bank for the past decade.

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Photo by Phillip Goldsberry on Unsplash

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