Charlottesville, V.A., case in point: A white-supremacist rally explodes in violence
(go figure!) But retaliations at that rally and then meetings after not only bring
further regard to who is hating who, and what is being said in public…but if it can
be said at all.
Surely, the hope has always been that by giving groups spewing a specific type of
rhetoric their due those groups will be ‘outed’ by their own words. But consider the
tsunami of tweet attacks the ACLU received when they upheld the rights of the
Virginia white supremacists. Or the assault on Jason Kessler, a white-supremacist,
and organizer of the Charlottesville rally. At a press conference after the event, he
was shouted at and punched.
The rallying cry, oft-heard refrain in these instances, "Free speech does not protect
hate speech,” might be a wish for some, but it is not law. Firstly, who is to say
what speech is hate speech (even the Supreme Court won’t touch that definition)
and secondly, all speech is protected in this country, no matter how repellent one
might find it.
The attacks against free speech come from every quarter these days, right and left.
From an Antifa protest of Milo Yiannopoulos speaking at the University of
California at Berkley, to Orange Coast College Republicans calling for the firing of
professor Olga Perez Stable Cox for her jabs at Donald Trump and Mike Pence;
one can hate the message but can’t very well shoot the messenger.
Or throw rocks or sticks at them, or assume they will be fired.
Be it a fear of Trump or Spence, simple human evolution, or the fact that
technology allows us all to be heard further and faster, the sides seem more
specifically divided these days than ever before. Tempers, as much as speech, runs
at a fevered edge, and when someone talks about important issues that talk does
seem to engender a dissenting opinion right quick.
But an opinion that still needs to be heard.
- Ralph G.