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So we think about the first amendment, the right to free speech. This gives us the power to say that we don’t like a politician, or a certain policy. It gives us the right to disagree with each other on certain things. It enables us to be part of the religion we choose, it gives us the right to assemble to protest things we don’t think are right in our government, and allows us to petition said government. It also allows free press. But how far does this actually go?
I once had a teacher who said that “Your rights end where mine begins.” I’ve thought about that a lot as I grew up, and it seems to be a more pressing issue in society today. Me personally, I believe that if you aren’t harming someone, or their property, you are well within your rights as an American citizen. Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. I don’t see how that can be when we have a country full of; hate, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, anti-Semitism, and general ignorance.
I used to have respect for the sons of confederate veterans. I thought they were all about the history of their relatives and the history behind the war. To a certain extent, that is true. However, they are also keeping the history alive, which in turn means that they are keeping the oppression, slavery, and racism alive as well. While I have no issue with history buffs, I enjoy learning new things myself. I love to read about the Holocaust and World War II. Listen to any of the groups who are supporting the confederacy and their beliefs. When they talk about the war, they often use the word “we”, however when they talk about the slavery portion, they use the word “they”. They only want to own up to bravery, not the brutal actions used against a different race to oppress and enslave them. Both are equally important parts of the civil war. One that makes them proud, and one that makes them uncomfortable. So they simply don’t talk about the one that makes them uncomfortable.
Now they have the right to assemble peacefully, however when it becomes a race issue, I question how that is a peaceful assembly, when they are using their skin color and heritage to demean another group of people. When white supremacists and separatists hold rallies, how is that constitutional? I think there is a fine line here.
As I said earlier, your rights end where mine begin. When you are holding an assembly that is meant to demean and incite, I don’t understand how that could be constitutional. Yet, people like David Duke and Jason Kessler are allowed to hold rallies where they preach hate and white supremacy. I agree that they have the right to free thought and ideas, no matter how ignorant they may be. However when they start placing it upon races, religion, and sexuality, I would think that crosses the thin line. They have subtly preached hate and violence at their rallies, yet when someone stands up to them, they want to play the victim card. This is all part of their propaganda and fear tactics, much like the Nazis did in Germany.
I truly believe that we have already crossed the imaginary thin line by allowing these hate groups to exist. Why the Klan, Neo-Nazis, fascists, and the alt right are not labeled as extremist groups by the government, I’ll never know. There has been far more violence committed by these groups than any immigrants or people of color. When we push that line back where it belongs, where hatred, racism, and ignorance no longer exist, we may be able to get back on track. While I know that we can’t change everyone’s minds, and that hate will always exist in some form, understanding goes a long way, even if it makes us a little uncomfortable.
Only when the power of love overcomes the love of power, will the world know peace. –Jimi Hendrix