When people make honest mistakes, I tend to give them a pass. But no, not Kevin Blackistone, who caused a firestorm of controversy over on AOL when he penned an article suggesting that the national anthem should be banned from sporting events.
(Okay, so no one who is anyone is on AOL. I am.)
My first impression was that the Huffington Post was kicking into overdrive now that it was taking editorial control over AOL. The indignant comments after the article stretched into the thousands, and were actually more entertaining than the original post.
Mr. Blackistone's premise is that politics has no place at the start of sporting events, and the anthem is political. He then goes on to say that such an explosive, warlike song has no place at sporting events, where players are regularly referred to as "combatants" who are "fighting." And then Blackistone justifies his position by alleging that most people don't know the lyrics anyway and most attempts (the failed ones) "degrade" the status of the anthem.
I agree that it's not the easiest song to sing. The words are somewhat archaic, and anyone who can successfully render it in the way that it was written must be a professionally trained vocalist with enormous range. Roseanne Barr massacred it, but so do 75% of the people who try it. So what?
Being a (very poor) karaoke singer myself, I say, "What the hell?" I love singing, and singers. Singing is expression, and expression doesn't have to be perfect. (See above, the sentence regarding "flawed" humans.) I encourage people to belt out their songs, whether it be something from the Boss, or something you made up to sing to your cat. (Kitty-chin, Kitty-chin, chim-chimmery Kitty-chin.) There isn't enough melodic expression in the world for me.
Perhaps more people would know the lyrics if more of them were exposed to them on a regular basis. "The Star Spangled Banner" is rarely heard in schools anymore (which is where I learned it, along with the Pledge of Allegiance). As for Mr. Blackistone's assertion—that since our elected leaders don't have to sing it, why should those attending sporting events?—I'm of the mindset that our elected leaders should sing it before the start of a legislative session. The Detroit Symphony Orchestra (what was) would play a rousing rendition of it at the start of each season, causing many to weep.