A Facebook pal angrily defriended me this past weekend because I said it was possible to defend the rights of nazis while still being against them.
We have to protect speech we hate. Speech we all agree with doesn’t need protection. the 1st Amendment is meaningless if we decide speech limitations based on the content of that speech.
Now let me clarify: I am talking about speech, not action. Clearly, you do not have the right to speech that causes a “clear and present danger” for instance. (This is the old Supreme Court example about yelling “Fire” in a crowded theater and causing a stampede and a riot.)
This is why I have absolutely no problem with laws restricting guns at rallies. While it is true that some states allow open carry, you don’t have that right under the Constitution (which is why many states don’t allow open carry). You don’t have the right to take a gun anywhere you please any more than you have the right to speak wherever you please. I see no problem with a state saying that anyone who brings a weapon to a rally can be arrested. That’s not speech.
Yes, of course, their speech is hateful, but do you trust our government to make that distinction — to decide what speech is considered hateful and what isn’t? Especially this current administration? If they had their way, they’d make speech against Trump illegal.
Once the government decides “This speech is prohibited but this speech is not” they are opening a door that will be used against our speech next.
I am not taking the side of these nazis. Anyone who reads this blog should be well aware of that. I am taking the patriotic side of Freedom of Speech.
Mind you, this freedom doesn’t mean these nazis should not face counter-protests, should be listened to, should be given any respect whatsoever. I am completely in favor of these people being outed, losing their jobs, and being harassed for their hate. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom from the consequences of that speech.