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The Freedom To Hate

On Saturday, August 12th, 2017 a protest in Charlottesville, Virginia turned violent.  A lady was killed and at least 19 were injured.  Once again, violence blinds reason. Shortly afterward, President Trump addressed the nation concerning the violence. In his address, he said, "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides," … "It has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America." He was right and he was wrong. He was right when he said that we should condemn the violence on many sides.  Not the violence of just one group, but the violence of all groups. That may be why he did not specifically mention the White Nationalists or the alt-right movement in his remarks. I am certain that audible derogatory comments from both sides of the demonstration fueled the fire that inevitably led to violence.  Even before the misguided young man drove his automobile through the crowd, there were violent confrontations.  Fists flew, sticks were swung and weighted water bottles were hurled.  It takes two to tango and it takes at least two to constitute a fight. People carrying signs that spoke of love displayed anger and hatred toward those who advocated bigotry and hatred. Hypocrisy is an indication of insincerity.  I suppose one could say that we should love those who agree with us but hate those who don’t.   To hate the hater is to be a hater.

I applaud the President for not taking sides.  His job is not to be a moral compass, or to echo the sentiments of the majority.  His job as the leader of the free nation is to protect the freedoms of ALL Americans, not just those who happen to agree with the majority.
However, he was wrong when he said that bigotry and hatred have no place in America.  We are a country built on the concept of tolerance.  While we have witnessed gross intolerance throughout American history, our constitution seems to declare that tolerance is a jewel of American democracy.  As long as it does not result in the oppression of others or violence, Americans are free to hate whomever they wish. In fact, we hear words of hatred in conversations all across our country from pool halls to pulpits every day.

Furthermore, we are a country that advocates freedom of speech so this demonstration does have a place in our country.  That is, unless we are really a country that advocates freedom of selective speech.  Which, in effect, is no freedom at all.  This is not a just a racial issue.  It is much more than that.  It is a constitutional issue.  This is the document that formed the ideology upon which our nation was founded and built. The world is watching to see how America will handle these kinds of situations.  We must show the world that America is different in that we allow freedom of expression and we do not, as many other countries do, suppress those with a view that is in opposition to traditional American values.

I have heard it said over and over by political leaders like the Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe and Senator Will Hurd that this kind of bigotry and hatred must be stopped.  My question is, just how do they propose stopping it?  A person’s belief cannot be stopped by force.  It must occur by a personal conviction that what they believe is destructive or unhealthy for the community and the world in which they live.  What these men are advocating is a type of martial law which is in conflict with our constitution.

What is the solution?  I think there are several.

  1. Do not issue permits or allow the gathering of two opposing factions at the same time in the same place.  Regardless of how peaceful their intentions might be, there are always those radical few who will throw a spark on the tinder. No matter what it says, a sign on a stick becomes a weapon in the hands of an impulsive, emotional demonstrator.
  2. Ignore the words and actions of those with whom you disagree.  Attention inspires persistence.  Disagreement breeds determination.  Pick at a sore and it will fester. Leave it alone and it will go away.
  3. Ignore the “news” media (I use the term “news” loosely).  The media thrives on sensationalism and controversy. Unbiased, accurate representation is non-existent in 21st century reporting.  As a matter of fact, the news media should be fined for inciting many of the riots that occur in our country.  They make their money by creating the news – by adding fuel to the fire.

Demonstrations such as the one held on August 12 must be tolerated or we must change our constitution.  Suppressing any opinion, no matter how contentious it might be, is contrary to the American ideology.
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