Earlier this week I received an email from Watchdog.net that was using Colin Kaepernick’s story as a fundraising tactic. In the message (titled: “Sign if you agree: NFL players deserve free speech”), Carli Stevenson’s writes:
“For the first time since he was a child, Colin Kaepernick, one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, is not playing on a football team. He has repeatedly been eviscerated in the media and online.
His crime? Peacefully using his constitutional rights to “take a knee” during the National Anthem to protest police brutality and the unpunished murders of black people by police.
Kaepernick believes NFL team owners have illegally, and against the players’ collective bargaining agreement, colluded to keep him unsigned and off the field, and has filed a grievance against the NFL.
Tell the NFL: Respect players’ right to free speech!“
In case you’re interested, the link redirects to a petition paid for by Daily Kos, the signing of which will (I’m sure) land you in a series of fundraising databases. This second missive / petition
“In an intentionally divisive move, President Trump has inserted himself squarely into this debate, attacking Kaepernick, NBA star Steph Curry, and any player who expresses support for Kaepernick or for “taking a knee” during the anthem. He has encouraged the NFL to respond to players’ peaceful protest by firing them.
Through his threats of retaliation, the president is stoking divisions and potentially violating the First Amendment rights of athletes. He’s setting a precedent that could be used against all Americans.”
As they all do, the very bottom of the page, the fine print reads: “By signing this petition, you agree to receive email updates from some of these participating organizations (no more than four)“.
Now, I don’t disagree with the sentiment, but it’s a little strange to see the story being so directly exploited as a fundraising technique. I’m not sure if this is any worse than the many, many emails I get claiming my signature will “protect medicaid” or “stop president Trump”, but it certainly feels like a new angle.
According to the petition, the groups participating in it are: #AllOfUs, Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance, AFL-CIO, Color of Change, Daily Kos, Defending Rights & Dissent, Democracy in Color, Jobs With Justice, Left Action, PEN America, People For the American Way, People’s Action, The Nation, United We Dream and Watchdog.net
Now, I understand how this helps those organizations, but how exactly does that help Colin Kaepernick? Personally, I have little faith that these petitions (read: “email lists”) will ever be delivered to anyone without a background in campaign finance. At best, it all feels fairly disingenuous.