Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.
Bill of Rights
It is the "First Freedom" and on it I am an absolutist. It is as close to sacred as a secular statement or law can be.
It means we must tolerate hearing even those things we find offensive. Reasonable people understand the implication of beginning to limit expression of a particular group or idea-where does it end?
There is an however to this and the Charlottesville march and incident and its aftermath illuminates the however.
The right to free speech does not extend to nazis or white supremacists. Here is how this free speech advocate gets to that point.
I begin by quoting an unlikely source, Richard Spencer the American white supremacist. Spencer said "nazis are out of the bounds of humanity." In this case, I agree with him.
Like many of his generation, my father was a combat veteran of WWII where the issue of the legitimacy of the nazi idea was prosecuted. Later the Nuremberg trials further established the outlaw, vile and inhuman nature of that belief and the participation in it.
The nazi government of Germany undertook behavior that is the most evil in human history. I find succor then between the bounds of a white supremacist and the defining history of WWII to say clearly there is nothing legitimate or protected in a nazi belief, statement or attitude. The nazi history of barbarity disqualifies them from any human right or endeavor.
White supremacy is a specious idea at best. More, it is fundamentally wrong and it is just stupid. With the exception of a isolated tribe or clan that has never had contact with others, there is no place on this planet where "blood lines are pure." Beyond that, the United States fought a brutal war fueled in great part by the foundational attitude and attendant arguments of white supremacy.
Those ideas allowed slavery to exist in our national experience and contributed to the inhuman and barbaric treatment of human beings. We didn't need a war to establish the foul nature of that belief, but the side that pressed racial supremacy was defeated none-the-less, ending any claim to it being a legitimate idea.
The sheer lunacy of white supremacy, combined with the tragic and bloody U.S. history of that issue places that view outside the bounds of protected speech.
We would not permit those who believe in child sacrifice, cannibalism, public beheading, public rape, or the likes of ISIS, Taliban, Boko Haram,etc., to march or express their views. White supremacists and nazis are no better and no different. In fact as a civil society we are better off when those attitudes and behavior are criminalized.
I think I'm safe in saying we have history on our side, to say nothing of the greater moral arguments. There is nothing good or right about white supremacy or nazim. They have no legitimacy or credibility. They are more than offensive, they are off the human scale. Humanity would be better if we never again had to cross them.
Waring elephant seals just up the coast from here have more right to free speech than nazis or white supremacists.
It is my assumption they also have more intellectual
power than the human slugs who are so out of touch with humanity.
the night i saw the nigger
First, my apology to anyone who might be offended, but that is exactly how Dick Gregory identified himself the first time I saw him.
It was at Ball State University in the mid 60's. Gregory performed his social comedy and was pushing his 1964 book Nigger. Throughout the concert he kept urging us to buy his book and send a copy to the President because he said he "wanted to see a Nigger in the White House!"
Over the ensuing years I would cover or interview Gregory as he advanced his social activism. On one occasion when I was scheduled to interview him I had a sore throat and a cough. Before the interview began Gregory asked the hotel staff to bring him hot water, tea, lemon and honey to make me an elixir.
Gregory was a ground breaker. He found a way to combat racism and segregation with a great and skilled sense of humor. He was also was a sincere and dedicated advocate of human dignity and liberty.
See you down the trail.