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Charlottesville and the First Amendment

August 14, 2017

To utilize an adjective familiar to our President, today I am sad. I am sad because our great nation is embarrassing itself in a bath of hatred and ugliness. It is 2017 and yet racism still seems to bare its ugly head and lead to violence. This past Saturday's events in Charlottesville are just the latest example of these statements.

 

As much as I deeply, deeply oppose the viewpoints of the anti-semites and white supremacists who gathered to protest, this post is not intended to argue against their right to convene. I believe the First Amendment grants them this right, and the Supreme Court has supported this in prior decisions. In the case National Socialist Party of America vs. Village of Skokie, decided in 1977, it was found that the Nazi Party had the right to march and protest in Skokie, Illinois, despite the decision of lower courts. 

 

However, what I do not condone in any way, shape, or form, is the First Amendment as permission for an escalation to violence. You may think and express your abhorrent views, and I may freely and loudly oppose them, but this should never lead to physical blows on other side. Any altercation that does ensue is a crime and in fact rises to the level of domestic terrorism, as was the sad (that word again) case this weekend. 

 

We need to come to terms in this country that we still disagree on many issues, and we will continue to do so. And that is okay, as long as everyone's personal being is kept safe. When it rises beyond that, it must be called out (immediately, as opposed to the several days it took for President Trump).

 

I know there are many who will disagree with me. And as a white woman who is not Jewish, I understand I have not lived the experiences of being besieged by racist or anti-semitic names. I cannot say that I have lived in those shoes, or if I would feel the same way if I had. But I strongly believe that the First Amendment gives all the right to hold and express opinions, no matter what they may be. I need not welcome them, I may counter-protest them, but I do not believe that I or the government can stop them. 

 

I fully welcome disagreement to my viewpoint, and encourage it! 

 

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