Last Sunday in Chicago seven people were stabbed during a neo-Nazi demonstration. My understanding is that various anti-Nazi groups showed up and clashed with them. Who the groups were are up to question, since I’ve read conflicting news stories. Now, the neo-Nazi’s did have a permit and had claimed that it was to be a peaceful speech. Although, I don’t know how anybody can say that spouting hate speech while carrying knives is peaceful. In the end, seven people ended up stabbed or injured.
This made me think hard and sent me through various emotions. It’s was on the two-week anniversary of the Pulse Nightclub massacre. With forty-nine people dead, it marks the largest mass shooting in America. It was, also, a hate crime. One that was directed at people of Latino heritage and the LGBT community. In short, two groups that neo-Nazis are not known to be friendly towards.
I scrolled through the many comments left on these news reports. Many of them sided with the neo-Nazi group. They’d gotten the permit to demonstrate and there is that First Amendment. The one that gives us freedom of speech.
Yet, part of me wants to rebel against that. Don’t get me wrong. I’m an author and words are my life. Nobody embraces the First Amendment more than I do. Yet, in the wake of the attacks, I find myself wondering if some are crossing the line.
All over the country we have governors, senators, Presidential hopefuls and other elected officials trying to pass discrimination laws. Whether it be not allowing transgender individuals to use the bathroom that they identify with, or laws that would protect LGBT people from being fired from their jobs. It’s no wonder that LGBT youth continue to be bullied. The number of black, transgendered women murdered, just this year alone, is staggering.
Even on the day of the Pulse shooting, several preachers stood in front of the congregations and praised the shooter. A man from the Orlando prosecuting office tweeted that Orlando was a “void” and a “cesspool”.
Let’s not kid ourselves, it’s because of hate speech that the Orlando shooting took place. Yes, I know that this individual was mentally ill and had a history of violence, so the fire was already going. But, the words that these people said added more fuel to the flames.
So, it’s natural for all of us to say that this has to stop. We have to start holding people accountable for what they say. That we need to end hate speech and these groups that thrive because of this.
Yet, on the other hand. Free speech is free speech. The First Amendment doesn’t say Freedom of Speech, unless certain people don’t like it. Plus, I worry that if we were to pass laws that limited this right, it could be used against us, as well.
What’s the answer? How can we end this? Damn, I wish I knew. I don’t know how we can stop this. I just guess that we’ll have to make our own voices louder, so we can be heard over the hate.
That’s what kind of America I want. The one who accepts everybody as who they are. The one that opens its arms to the weary and the weak. The one that allows freedom of religion. Isn’t that what our forefathers really wanted?