Sunday, January 22, 2006

Freedom of Speech

The Nazis are coming! The Nazis are coming! This is the call that is ringing out throughout the Olympia Peace Community. It seems the National Socialist Party (Nazis) are holding a rally and march today in Olympia, WA. The newspaper reports the organizers expect a contingent of only 15 or so.

Olympians for Peace plan a counter rally -- one that will drown out the Nazi message and will send the following message, "No Nazis in Olympia".

As a self-defined radical left winger, you might think I welcome such a counter rally and plan to be at the head of the procession. And, if you think this, you're wrong.

Do I agree with the Nazi message? Hell NO! I find it reprehensible, hateful and downright disgusting. BUT I also agree with the right of free speech and free assembly. Consequently, while I abhor all the Nazis stand for, I defend their right of free speech.

For me, this is what freedom is all about -- defending the rights of those you most oppose. If those of us on the Left only will support the rights of those who agree with us, we're no better than the Bush Administration -- an administration that seeks to silence any person or group that opposes their secretive and hateful agenda! We're no better than the fundamentalist bloggers who seek to control dialogue and debate by silencing those who disagree with them.

I have no trouble whatsoever with anyone holding a counter march against the Nazis in Olympia or elsewhere. I have no problem with trying to get out a message of love, respect and mutual understanding. Yet, it's one thing to counter with our own message of dignity and quite another to try to drown out them out and to tell them to go away.

They have the right -- just as we do -- to express their opinions and to assemble, no matter how disgusting and divisive they are.

That's what freedom is all about.


  1. I agree, we should defend the rights of those we disagree with. Especially those we disagree with 100 percent. That said, a counterprotest or other similar action is in the same spirit of the First Admendment, actually more in the spirit of letting them have their say alone.

    Freedom of speech is about everyone speaking and not letting someone off the hook when you think they're wrong.

    Counter protesting and exercising your rights isn't the same as Tiananmen Square or Prague Spring.

  2. There is something very satisfying about a counter protest, but it is no where near as effective as totally ignoring the disgusting creeps. It is on the same level as having a war and nobody comes. Wouldn't those fifteen or so Nazis feel slighted if the sight of their march were completely deserted? Their march probably would be over in about five minutes.

  3. I meant the site of their march, not the sight.

  4. trey, where do you draw the line? if a lion walked into your village and dragged off the children, you'd kill the lion.

    if republicans are responsible for hacked voting machines and rigged elections, what are you prepared to do?

    if nazis are fomenting genocide, is that okay?

    free speech is a beautiful thing, and i appreciate the philosophy as much as anyone...but at some point you either draw a line and say, "no more" or you get steamrolled.

    right now people of our political persuasion are being steamrolled.

  5. Spaceneedl,
    I view this issue the same way I view Bush's "war on terror". Bush has consistently taken the bait thrown out by Bin Laden. We send in the military to wreak death and destruction. As the death toll climbs, we create even MORE potential terrorists who vow destruction of anything American.

    If we move in to silence Nazis and Nazi sympathizers, all this will do is create more resentment and hate toward "our kind". It will make them ever more determined to continue to live their message of hate and violence. I believe this strategy actually helps in their recruitment efforts. They can say to people, "Look at these hypocrites! They say they believe in freedom of speech, but..."

  6. trey, i agree with you here...but you haven't answered my question.

    where do you draw the line? when do you say, "this cannot stand"?

    i am totally onboard with the bedrock, fundamental necessity of free speech...but i'm not prepared to fall on that sword while the barbarians storm the gates.


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