Monday, November 28, 2016

I love the First Amendment (and I can still deplore hateful speech).

Of course I'm angered and saddened about the increase in hateful speech across campuses (see today's latest story here).  I don't respect the people who say such awful things.  But I respect their right to say them.  Such speech reveals their darkest instincts, and acts as an early warning sign for me ("don't get too close to this person").

Someone asked me last week if I was going to interfere with hate speech.  I don't think it's appropriate to do so.  We could act on hateful actions that threaten other people's safety.  (Don't forget, though, that some actions are protected speech.)  We can act on actions that are against the law.  But sunlight is still the best disinfectant to reveal those people whose internal thought processes demonize others in an apparent, and probably unsuccessful, attempt to improve their own self-image issues.  And I refuse to demonize those whose political views are different from mine.

I'm getting a bit tired of being told that I have no idea what it's like to be yelled at, cursed, spit on, etc.  I actually do know quite a lot about what that's like.  I grew up in deep East Texas as a Jew.  I got hit, shoved, spit on, yelled at, cursed....  So I know that such actions are horrible to experience and very, very frightening.  But I love the First Amendment (and the rest of the Bill of Rights) so much that I don't want to see it curtailed.  I am a card-carrying member of the ACLU.  I can recite parts of this speech almost from memory.  And I believe that we can provide succor to those who are hurt and frightened without sacrificing our Constitutional rights--especially the right to say stupid things.


James Milles said...

Thoughtful as always. Thanks, Nancy.

Unknown said...

Thanks, Jim!