Freedom of speech is not about protecting the right of free speech of those we agree with. It is about protecting the right to speak for those we hate and despise. It is the job of government, and of the police in particular, to protect and defend the right of all people to speak. Those who use violence and intimidation to silence those they dislike are Fascists in the exact meaning of the word. Fascists before WWII in Italy and Germany were famous for using violence to silence those whom they disliked.
The man holding up this sign is a Fascist.
Noam Chomsky, despite my personal disagreements with many of his beliefs and positions, put it very well.
If we do not believe in freedom of speech for those we despise we do not believe in it at all. Noam Chomsky
It seems to me today the sort of people who want to ban hate speech basically define “hate speech” as pretty much anything they disagree with or don’t understand (or don’t feel prepared to refute logically).
I had an interesting discussion with my son and daughter recently. They are millennials and were telling me that the Antifa folks were justified in physically attacking and beating up people at a public rally whom they characterized as white supremacists. They justified this with this line of logic:
“White supremacists like Nazis advocate the genocide of inferior people. They want to gas blacks like the Nazis gassed the Jews in WWII.”
I am fairly certain that the vast majority of so-called “white supremacists” don’t want to gas black people and, although some may hold views I find personally despicable, are not in the same league as the Nazis who really did murder millions of people in concentration camps.
I would say to these people, as I said to my son and daughter, “You need to find out what these people truly believe and then use rational arguments to refute them based on facts, not fictions based on your own prejudices.”
Using violence first is always the naked admission that you don’t have good arguments, at least good arguments that will win the hearts and minds of rational people. Are there bad people out there that hold bad views? Of course there are. But if your first response is to use violence against people exercising their constitutional right to free speech just because you despise them, well, then you are an even worse person than they are.
It is ok to fight Nazis and evil people, but only after those people stop talking and start using violence to get their way. Then by God get your gun and have at it, just like our fathers and grandfathers did in WWII. But not before.