This post is in response to the KKK rally and resultant riot in Anaheim today.
I would like to open by stating unequivocally that I oppose the Klan and its beliefs in all of their forms in the strongest manner possible. They and their adherents are despicable and their ideas can and must be challenged whenever and wherever they raise their head.
However, I also firmly believe that it is not the popular speech that needs protecting.
The LA Times has an article describing a large crowd of counter-protesters swarming the much smaller group of klansmen with weapons and fists and dragging at least one to the ground. Three people were stabbed at least one counter-protester was stabbed with a Klansman’s flag pole/spear. The spear wielding klansman and an unannounced number of counter-protesters were arrested. This is early and some of these “facts” are bound to change. The rest of this post is based upon these early reports and a change in the “facts” may change the sincerity of what I am about to say.
Two things strike me about this incident that may be unpopular to state. First, the spear wielding klansman should be promptly released from custody. You do not need the law to grant you the right to defend your person, it is an unalienable right. Secondly, and probably more controversially, any of the counter-protesters who took place in the attack should be charged with a hate crime. Allow me to expound on this second point below.
I oppose the very concept of hate crimes and believe they should be repealed. Hate crime legislation is thought crime legislation and has no place in a free society. If a group attacks and injures or kills a man leaving a bar, I am not particularly concerned with the “why” as I am with the “what”. It doesn’t matter to me what the thinking process that led to the attack was and I fail to understand why it is worse if the reason is that the attackers hated gays or blacks or whatever than if the reason is that the attackers just wanted to see what blood looks like seeping into the ground. There are already laws on the book making it illegal to attack/kill people, the judge has some leeway in sentencing in which to consider motive and relate it to length and severity of punishment; we do not need to add another crime making their thoughts illegal too.
However, if we are going to have laws on the books to protect certain classes, I can think of no group as hated as the klan nor one more in need of protection.
The first amendment needs protecting, even for these abhorrent people. This is not to say that their statements should go unchallenged. For example: a counter march across town, a picnic, a celebration that these cretins can only muster 5 people should be enjoyed by the masses. We should celebrate how far we have come and strategize on the ways to move further toward the ideal. I think it is only fair to assume that a celebration of 1000 or more will get more publicity than a sad pathetic group of 4 or 5 speaking to no one will.
The klan is a group based on hatred. But when I see pictures of the faces of the counter protesters as they surge for the attack, I feel like an animal at the end of Animal Farm peering through the window; I can not be sure who is the pig and who is the human.
Agree? Disagree? Let me know in the comments, don’t forget to include why.
TL/DR: Hatred should be opposed in all of its forms. We already have laws targeting specific actions, we do not need specific laws targeting thoughts.