Freedom of Speech versus dealing with the Nazi asshats:
I have a moral dilemma. The situation isn’t cut and dried or black and white. Like most things in a Heathen’s life, there are many shades of gray.
Let me explain.
Nazis and Antifa
I hate the Nazis. I really do. I’m against them 100 percent. As a writer, I am pro First Amendment. That means that I am all for freedom of speech. I believe that freedom of speech is necessary for a free society. So, when the Nazis hold a rally or are met with the Antifa forces, I go into cognitive dissonance. I really don’t know what to think.
The First Amendment
As a champion of the First Amendment, I believe that everyone has their right to say or write whatever they want. (I don’t have to read it or listen to it, mind you. And I sure don’t have to agree with it.) Now, obviously freedom of speech has even been limited in America, but for the most part, you can spout the most absurd rhetoric and no one from the Government is going to visit you in the dead of night and drag you from your home (yet). There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. Threats made against the president, for example. But overall, you can be as stupid as you care to on the Internet, in a paper, or out on the street corner.
Suppression of Freedom of Speech
This brings up Antifa. I agree that one needs to be anti-fascist. But I think they’re doing it wrong. Antifa is aimed at suppressing the Nazis’ freedom of speech with violence. They are a leftist group who are also anti-capitalist and socially leftist. Yes, they are pro-LGBT and anti-racist, but their leftist affiliations makes me wonder what their end game might be. Suppressing freedom of speech, even from Nazis–and you have NO IDEA how much this pains me to say it–is wrong, if the Nazis leave it to only speech and rhetoric. When someone eliminates freedom of speech, one eliminates it for all people.
When Do They Whittle Away Our Rights as Heathens?
Think of it this way: yes, we can ban fascist statements, but when does what you believe start disappearing as well because the prevailing view shifts? Right now, our right to worship our gods are tied to the First Amendment in the United States. That means we have the right to honor Thor, Odin, Freyja, Tyr, and even Loki, if we wish. We can also choose to worship nothing, worship the Christian god, or worship a snake in a bathtub. This is a basic right guaranteed by the First Amendment. What’s also guaranteed in the First Amendment is that the government will not prevent you from expressing your beliefs, AKA, the Freedom of Speech. It doesn’t stop individuals or corporations from trying to stop you from stating your beliefs. Other laws that deal with physical violence are supposed to prevent that.
While Antifa isn’t the government, I’m truly wondering what their intentions are. I’m as anti-Nazi as they come, but even I recognize the implications if we don’t uphold the freedom of assembly and freedom of speech, even for Nazi assholes.
Are the Nazis a Clear Threat Yet?
Obviously the Nazis can’t handle peaceful demonstrations–are we all that surprised?–but the question of whether it’s right to attack Nazis shouting their bullshit is the question I’m going to ask. I mean, it’s one thing to claim you’re a Nazi, believe their propaganda, and demonstrate; it’s another when you start beating people.
You could claim that every single Nazi gathering has been violent. I haven’t paid that much attention to the Nazis until recently, but I’d imagine that is probably true. In which case, yes, cancel them on the grounds of violence. But our Constitution and its Amendments guarantee that they are entitled to their opinions and beliefs, however awful they are.
I’m not sure if they’re a clear threat yet, but they could be. As a Heathen, I recognize violence against evil as being sometimes necessary. For example, during war or when one is attacked. But to instigate violence against a violent group seems to just incite them further. I learned this training animals. You don’t punish the dog when it does something bad. You ignore it. Eventually the behavior stops if you reinforce the behaviors you want. It’s basic training techniques, and one that work exceptionally well, even with human animals. If we enforce the right behavior, i.e. tolerance, and ignore the bullshit rallies (and have an armed police presence that keeps them in their own little spot where they can’t harm civilians), fewer and fewer people are going to want to join up.
Han Shot First
We all know the argument in Star Wars that Han shot first in the original version. Lucas edited later editions to have Greedo shoot first and miss. In the first Star Wars, Han shot Greedo before he could shoot because we all knew what was going to happen if he didn’t. We cheered over it, because not only Greedo was a debt collector, but he also was an assassin. Han acted in self defense over a clear threat.
I’m not saying that we should shoot first when it comes to Nazis, but there is such a thing as self defense given that someone is armed the same as you (or better) and makes a credible threat. Still many states don’t recognize this as defense and consider it murder. Also, there’s a matter of showing up ready to fight. Legally, one could, I suppose, say you were there to incite more trouble. (We Heathens are great at that, by the way.)
So, What Should We Do?
The violence is Charlottesville ended in a death of a woman and the Nazi is being tried for murder and attempted murder. (As he should be.) I am saddened by the woman’s death and the injuries of people who were protesting these evil people. I saw the video of the attack and was appalled, because it was apparent the injured and killed people weren’t doing anything violent. That woman should not have died, nor should the people who were protesting peacefully been injured.
Right now, I know that it isn’t in human nature to belittle and ignore Nazi rallies. It’s in our DNA to want to fight the injustice and insanity. I can’t tell you what to do, but by giving these Nazi morons someone to fight against, it validates their threat. Let me ask you one question: which is more insulting to an aggressor: acting like they’re not worth your time or fighting them on their terms? Yes, you will get bigger noise, and even more outrageous behavior, because they want to call attention to themselves, but eventually, they’ll find it not worth their while if they aren’t given center stage all the time.
Just a thought. Your mileage may vary.