Protecting the First Amendment Rights of Neo-Nazis Will Not Bring About the Fourth Reich
Do you want to know the best way to win a debate against a white supremacist? Just let him or her speak. The rest will take care of itself. Racists tend to discredit themselves rather quickly when given the opportunity. For this reason, among many others, we must resist the temptation to respond to hate speech by censoring it.
Contrary to what you may have read on social media, allowing hatemongers to publicly out themselves will not lead to Neo-Nazis brainwashing everyone into joining their cause. This is the argument I most frequently see in response to anyone who dares to caution that censorship is never the answer.
If one more fake progressive threatens me with glibly ironic predictions of brown shirts busting into my home and dragging me off to one of Fuhrer Trump’s concentration camps, I’m going to have to seriously start reconsidering my faith in the intelligence of the human race. It’s bad enough for us that these racists are such blathering idiots, so it really doesn’t help when the allegedly smart ones among us resort to putting forth such ridiculous arguments and fear mongering.
Why not let people see for themselves the ugliness of racism and bigotry? When I see a man who dedicates his life to expressing pride in what he believes to be the superiority inherent to a lack of skin pigmentation, it tells me that such a man does not have much else to be proud of.
When the Voting Rights Act of 1965 was partially repealed by the Supreme Court a few years ago, the justices in the majority argued that racism is a thing of the past. I believe I can safely say that the recent events in Charleston prove otherwise. Think about it: We have so effectively concealed the bigotry that even the highest court in the land was fooled. Unfortunately, the hate is still there; we’ve merely swept it under the rug. As Bill Maher so eloquently put it, denying racism has become the new racism in America.
One such example of racism being alive and well is the case of Jeremy Joseph Christian, a white supremacist who murdered three innocent people during a racist tirade. After his arrest, he openly bragged to police about the stabbings, even offering to take the stand to express his hopes that his victims all die and that he’s proud of what he did. Did the police tell him to shut up because he was saying such offensive things? Of course not. Having been read his rights, this racist idiot couldn’t resist the urge to utterly bury himself and the cops were more than happy to let him.
It’s a safe bet that Christian’s defense attorneys will not be in favor of their client taking the stand. They’ll probably do everything they can, in fact, to make sure he opens his mouth in front of the jury as little as possible. After all, it’s a defense attorney’s job to protect his/her clients, very often from themselves. This is especially true with white supremacists, who often brag about their crimes to anyone who will listen.
So if silencing racist hatemongers serves only to protect them, why are we trying to censor them? It’s a very short-sighted mindset, in my view. What we should be doing is gladly handing these pathological morons a blow horn so that the whole world can bear witness to their ignorance and stupidity. Better still, it provides the rest of us with an opportunity to use our free speech rights to condemn their brand of hatred and demonstrate that society can rise above it. It sure beats living in denial.