In Tennessee, white nationalist crept out from their exclusive, dark, aloof online spaces and made their existence known. Two hours late to their own rally, they congregated in the small town of Shelbyville.
Counter Protesters were already there and had been since eight in the morning. They mocked the self-identified “white lives matter” group.
The second scheduled gathering for the WLM affiliates was subsequently canceled because of the enormous opposition presence.
I think it is safe to say that the majority of people don’t want to think about giving Neo-Nazis, White Nationalist and White Supremacists a platform to speak.
But the truth is that if we were to prosecute their right to speak and to gather, we risk further avoiding relevant conversations about the extreme divide in this country. And if we aren’t talking about it, then we most certainly aren’t coming up with solutions.
This makes me think about a recent case I researched, Virginia v. Black. The case was sure landmark case when talking about hate speech.
The argument was suggested that burning a cross couldn’t be prosecuted under a weak Virginia statute provision that allowed juries to assume any act of burning a cross was “intimidation.”
Essentially, cross burning could simultaneously be articulating a political ideology – and under the “free speech” clause of the First Amendment, that is acceptable.
It was a tough case to come to terms with, but I ultimately did. And the demonstration over the weekend alongside this video on the Vice Charlottesville report earlier this year, it became easier for me to reconcile with the fact that people who espouse the kind of venomous hate that makes us want to ignore them, are actually the people we should especially protect under the free speech clause.
Of course, in an ideal world, this wouldn’t need to be a statement, but in our world, it is something I have been thinking about.
If we squash the voices of the people who hate us, then we have no entry point of combating these kinds of ideologies.
I needed to hear and see these people in order to place them into reality, and in order to fight back. This is why the counter-protesters have never failed to outnumber the opposition.