Governments don’t just happen. They laboriously are created. So, what is the purpose of a government?
The Declaration of Independence offers one opinion:
“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men.”
The purpose of government, according to our founders, is to protect our rights. Many of these rights are enumerated in the Constitution, and specifically in the Amendments.
The very first Amendment reads in part:
“Congress shall make no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
The 1st Amendment exists because Americans fear government dictatorship. We abhor the thought police of China, Russia, North Korea, Cuba, et al. We feel the “slippery slope” of government intervention in our precious freedoms.
And yet, it simply is not true, and logically cannot ever be true. Congress makes all sorts of laws that break those Constitutional promises of freedom.
The words, “a government or agency” immediately tell you that a great many people have the power to restrict your, or the press’s, freedom of speech. Want to know who all these people are? Go to Executive Order 13526 of December 29, 2009, Section 1.3.
Ask Chelsea Manning, Julian Assange, et al what happened to their “free speech” when they “leaked” classified information. I would tell you to ask Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, but they are dead, having been executed for exercising mythical “free speech” rights.
There literally are thousands of people in the federal government who can deprive you of your free-speech, free-press rights, at will, just by deeming something “classified.”
And, it’s not just classified information. Oliver Wendell Holmes’s analogy about shouting fire in a theater has been the psychological background for dozens, if not hundreds, of court decisions limiting speech that a judge felt was harmful.
For example, if one were to write, or even publicly say, the President should be assassinated, the Secret Service is likely to come down on him like a sledgehammer on a pat of butter. Your free-speech rights will not protect you if you encourage any sort of illegal violence.
Current law says that speech also can be prohibited if it “is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”
And that brings us to the Nazi/White Supremacy/alt right march on the University of Virginia campus in Charlottesville.
Does a combination of: Marching at night by hundreds of people, carrying torches and waving Nazi flags, while chanting such slogans as “Sieg heil” and “blood and soil,” and “Jew will not replace us,” and giving the Nazi salute — is that likely to incite or produce lawless action?
Is the existence of a statue glorifying the enslavement of black Americans likely to incite lawless action? What about a statue designed to insult and belittle Jesus? Does that qualify?
Then, there is the much misunderstood (by the public and by the Supreme Court itself) “fighting words” exception to free speech. The Court has effectively limited the exception to include only abusive language, exchanged face to face, which would likely provoke a violent reaction.
If hundreds of angry men carrying swastikas, chanting “Jew will not replace us,” pass in front of a group of Jews, while as background noise, Nazi websites encouraged the burning of synagogs and the killing of Jews — is that totality likely to “provoke a violent reaction”?
If you merely touch someone with your fist, you won’t be jailed, but if you hit someone with your fist, you can be jailed for the hurt you have caused. It is the hurt that is punishable.
Does shouting Nazi slogans at someone who has lost relatives to a Nazi furnace also cause deep, unrelenting hurt?
In the recent past, Germany allowed millions of immigrants, yet even this liberal and accepting nation has set limits.
Soon after the end of World War II, the Germans banned swastikas and other Nazi emblems, and the German people, not to mention the police, do not tend to react well when the symbols of that era are put on display.
Hours before the clashing demonstrations started in Charlottesville on Saturday, an American tourist in the German city of Dresden got punched in the face by a local for drunkenly throwing the Hitler salute.
Less than two weeks earlier, two Chinese tourists in Berlin made the same gesture while taking a photo in front of the Reichstag; they were promptly arrested and could face a fine or up to three years in prison.
In law, there always is a line between lawful and unlawful and that line generally is arbitrary and narrow. If the speed limit arbitrarily has been set at 30mph, only a judge having a bad day will punish you for going 32mph.
What is the “real” law? 35mph? 40mph? The judge probably will consider several factors: Your driving record. The weather and road conditions. Whether you were driving in a “reckless” manner (weaving, tailgating, etc.) Even whether you were cooperative and respectful to the police officer and to the judge.
He will consider the entire background of the incident.
What then is the “entire background” of hundreds of angry torch bearers, shouting threats to Jews and blacks? Does a history of slavery and lynchings count as part of the background? Does the Holocaust count?
Consider these articles:
KKK warns of more ‘commie’ deaths after Charlottesville
Heather Heyer was killed when James Fields allegedly rammed car into crowd protesting “Unite the Right” rally.
If simply hanging a noose, the purpose of which is to cause fear and hurt, can be considered a hate crime, what is the Nazi/White Supremacy march in Charlottesville, if not a hate crime?
A terrorist organization is defined as one that promotes the calculated use of violence (or the threat of violence) against civilians in order to attain goals that are political or religious or ideological in nature; this is done through intimidation or coercion or instilling fear.
President Trump, terrorism fighter, has been so concerned about terrorism, he even has banned Muslims who have no history of terrorism. Yet, don’t the Nazis and the White Supremacy groups fit the definition of terrorist groups?
Haven’t domestic terrorists done far more damage to America than have foreign terrorists?
After being indoctrinated online into the world of white supremacy and inspired by a racist hate group, Dylann Roof told friends he wanted to start a “race war.” Someone had to take “drastic action” to take back America from “stupid and violent” African Americans, he wrote.
Then, on June 17, 2015, he attended a Bible study meeting at the historic Emanuel A.M.E. Church in Charleston and murdered nine people, all of them black.
Finally, President Trump said, “What about the ‘alt-left’ that came charging at the, as you say, the ‘alt-right’? Do they have any semblance of guilt?”
The “alt-right” is a racist, far right movement based on an ideology of white nationalism and anti-Semitism. Many news organizations do not use the term, preferring terms like “white nationalism” and “far right.”
Researchers who study extremist groups in the United States say there is no such thing as the “alt-left.” Mark Pitcavage, an analyst at the Anti-Defamation League, said the word had been made up to create a false equivalence between the far right and “anything vaguely left-seeming that they didn’t like.”
To summarize: In law, there always is a “slippery slope” of government intervention. Yet, we create laws based on our best understanding of reality.
Naziism and white nationalism are not political parties like the GOP, the Democrats, and the Libertarians. These are hate-mongering organizations devoted to demeaning and injuring people whose color, religion, sexual orientation, citizenship, etc. they don’t like.
Naziism and white nationalism have no place in America. They are anti-America. They hurt Americans.It simply is illogical to provide such organizations with freedom-of-speech, freedom-of-assembly protections, while denying the same protections to a whistleblower who discloses a classified document.
It simply is illogical to provide such organizations with freedom-of-speech, freedom-of-assembly protections, while denying the same protections to a whistleblower who discloses a classified document.
We never have blindly followed the words “no law . . . abridging the freedom of speech.” We always have made exceptions when our citizens’ welfare was at risk.
There is a difference between right and wrong. It’s not a mystery in this case. Naziism and white nationalism are wrong. They do not incorporate sufficient redeeming qualities to entitle them to 1st Amendment protections. They are terrorist organizations.
We should take a lesson from Germany, and use common sense. Ban these terrorist organizations, ban their symbols, and ban their marches, just as we have outlawed other terror.
Rodger Malcolm Mitchell