The current kerfuffle surrounding the newly announced NFL policy on the national anthem is instructive. It is the latest example of people arguing past one another without defining what they are arguing.

I see at least four separate arguments that get confused.

  1. The NFL, as a private entity, has the authority to set policy for its employees. (Yes, yes it does.)
  2. The new policy makes sound business and financial sense for the NFL. (This one is arguable either way.)
  3. The new policy makes America a better/worse place in general. (Clearly arguable.)
  4. If you do not show proper respect to the American flag you should leave the country. (No, no you should not.)

In order to facilitate a constructive discussion, make sure the issue being discussed is understood by the participants in the discussion. It is helpful.