On October 28th, 2017, a rally will be held in Shelbyville,Tn. The rally is called, “White Lives Matter” lead by a group of White Nationalists. An event that I want no part of. Being a Tennessean myself, I know the history of my state very well. Tennessee,Georgia, and Alabama are cradles for The Ku Klux Klan, a group that has very much weakened in the last 50 years, yet, some racial sentiments from their heyday still live on in rural areas.
While the south has progressed quite a bit over the last few decades, there are still remnant of racial tensions. After several incidents involving white police officers killing unarmed black citizens, a group known as “Black Lives Matter”, has began to emerge. The decentralized group plans to counter protest the rally in Shelbyville. The rise of white nationalism has grown since the election of Donald Trump who espouses populist ideals. Black Lives Matter groups want to bring awareness around minorities who are targeted by police, treated unfairly in the justice system, and other problems that go ignored in their communities.
The “White Lives Matter” activists claim that police officers killing white citizens are being ignored in the media, and the constant accusations of racism against them (i.e. playing the race card), and their disdain for “Political Correctness”, is why they are speaking out. White Lives Matter claim that they are tired of being “scapegoats” for media induced race wars.
These statements do not sound extremely controversial. However, among these groups exists a more sinister wing. The same can be said of the Black Lives Matter movement. In both movements, we see disturbing trends. On the far right, we have Neo-Nazis, skinheads, and the KKK. On the far left, we have Antifa, Black Separatists, and Neo-Anarchists. On both ends of the spectrum, violence, bigotry, and hateful comments are often dispersed. Extreme opinions on both the left and the right are resulting in 1960s styled race-wars. It is truly sad to see.
Accusations of “hate-speech” have been numerous in recent years. With the rise of legalized gay marriage, transgender activism, and race riots, the label of “hate speech” is often seen in the media. Many even advocate that “hate-speech” should be illegal. Protesters on the left can be seen holding signs saying, “Hate-speech is not Free-Speech”.
Hate-Speech, as commonly defined, is any sort of slur or comment that demeans someone based on their race, religion, gender, or nationality. But, is hate-speech considered free-speech?”
Yes and no.
Under the Constitution of the United States, citizens are guaranteed the right to express grievances. There is no stipulations in the constitution as to what those grievances may be. In many instances, grievances are not always agreed upon. My grievance may be to support abortion, whereas another may consider it offensive, thus deeming it as “hate-speech”, since, in the mind of a pro-lifer, I would be advocating for something offensive to their religion.
The gray area of what is “hate speech” is very hazy. Free-Speech has been suppressed many times in American history. The Smith Act of 1940 , made it illegal for American citizens to openly support Communism or Socialism publicly during both World Wars, yet many people today support those policies without fear.
However, generally, as I understand how liberty and freedom works, is quite simple.
A man or woman has the right to say and/or believe whatever they want so long as their words are not encouraging criminal acts such as murder, theft, or vandalism. From a civil standpoint, this would also include libel and slander. Under the Civil Rights Act, this also expands into the work-place applicable to employers hiring employees without considering their race, gender, or religion.
If your words are not encouraging violence, libel, slander, or mayhem, then the Constitution supports your right to say whatever you desire, no matter how ridiculous it may be. If a man were standing on a public sidewalk holding a sign that said, “I hate White people”. Would I be offended? yes! Would I be upset? Yes. Would I organize a counter-protest? Very likely. Would I ask that his action be made illegal? No.
In some situations, the ability to say controversial things sparks debate, communication, and growth. The 1st amendment of the Constitution was not designed so that we may talk about the weather, it was designed so that people could say very controversial things outside of the norm of society without fear of suppression.
It is a very slippery slope. In fact, under the Patriot Act and the NDAA , free speech is suppressed. Under these laws, anyone who supports terrorism, even verbally, can be detained without a trial and/or placed on a watchlist effectively having their passports revoked. It sounds good in theory, until you realize that it is very ambiguous. Let’s say I post on Facebook, “I hate paying taxes!”. Under the Patriot Act, some controller from a far away office could legally monitor that comment and place me on a watchlist saying that I am advocating “anti-government” rhetoric. It seems far fetched, but it is actually happening and has happened to many people.
Soon, our political leaders will be able to silence anyone so long as they use buzzwords like: Terrorism. Racist. Homophobic. Islamphobe. Bigot. We see it all the time in politics. When Barack Obama was president, I was often called “racist” anytime I criticized him, even though my criticisms were always towards his policies and not his race, the accuser didn’t care, because my skin did not match theirs. On the flip side, when I criticize President Trump, the far-right accuses me of being an undercover “Antifa” member or a “liberal”. Some could argue that such accusations could be illegal under “libel” and “slander”, since these are attacks on my personal character/reputation. General comments made towards society and public officials are absolutely protected under the 1st amendment.
I am non-partisan and I am not easily offended, so, I let those comments roll off my shoulders, however, the point is made…
Do we truly live in a society that is only able to criticize those who look exactly like us? I may catch a lot of flack for saying this, but, I believe that a man or woman should legally be allowed to utter any comment that does not command a criminal or libelous act. If they are general comments made and they do not instruct murder,theft,vandalism,libel, or slander, then the person/group should either be left alone, or, if you disagree, you should peacefully counter-protest that individual or group.
If a protester is advocating for murder or destruction, the protester should not be counter-protested, but rather, you should call the police and have them thrown in jail because they are guilty of conspiracy. If a Neo-Nazi shouts into the streets, “I am going to kill all black people.” This is not free-speech. He is openly expressing his intent to murder anyone who has black skin. The police should be called. However, if that same Neo-Nazi exclaims, “We shouldn’t allow foreigners to immigrate into the US”, his words are extremely unintelligent, but they are not illegal.
The fact that the Neo-Nazi is even allowed to say this will spark a debate. Debates are very necessary for human evolution. The only way we can remove stupidity is to allow for stupidity to rear its ugly head so that we may publicly shame it.
Free-Speech is often confused with “popular speech”. Just because a speaker isn’t saying something that is widely accepted, doesn’t automatically mean that he/she should be locked in jail, castrated, or charged with a felony.
Are racists idiots? Yes
Should we fear all Muslims? No
Should we care whether or not Gay people get married? No, that’s their business.
Should we assume that anyone who doesn’t agree with us is racist? No
These are my opinions, but many may disagree. And they should have the right to.
In the words of a great philosopher….
“I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” – Evelyn Beatrice Hall
On October 28th, 2017, Black Lives Matter will counter protest the “White Lives Matter” rally in shelbyville. The Constitution says that both groups are allow to commence in their activities. Both groups are legally protected. If violence, vandalism, libel, or slander is used during these rallies by either side, then you can expect arrests to be made. The judge will not care if you are a Liberal, Conservative, or whatever. If you do the crime you must do the time.
If the judge or jury issues what is perceived as an unfair verdict, the public has every right to protest, boycott, counter-sue the state, and/or express their grievances towards that also.
It’s time we get back to the basics and read a little “Common Sense.”
I’m sure Benjamin Franklin would agree.