Letter: Counter hatred with reason; protect first speech
To the editor:
As a lifelong liberal, I am very troubled by any effort to censor free speech, to limit or control the exchange ideas, to restrict or monitor open and honest public dialogue, to curb the voices of any individual American or group. The right and protection of free speech lies at the heart of our democracy, and our constitutional protections are designed especially for minority opinions since the majority, by right and rule of greater numbers, inherently guards and protects its own interests.
I would like to offer an alternative reaction to those who would shut down or beat down the free speech of others on the grounds it is just too offensive or upsetting to be allowed. I will use a worse case example:
When it comes to White Supremacists who want to march and get together as a group in public, I say let them talk and do their thing. Be smart. Give them their space and stay out of their faces. Stand back and away. Take notes or record or videotape their actions and words. Do not interfere with their right to speak their minds however much you hate or are upset by what they espouse.
Then when they are all done and finished, take them on — not with baseball bats and pepper spray, but with reason and reasonableness. Understand that meeting hatred and anger with hatred and anger destroys everything and only serves to feed our dark side. Take the hate down publicly, point by skewed point. Use fact-filled, example rich, unrelenting reason to shine light on the twisted origins of their ideology, and systematically strip it of any supposed substance.
White supremacists are their own worst enemies. Their beliefs are so irrational and intellectually vacant it is not that hard to bring them down. Just make the effort. Do not yell and scream or name call. Do not give them the excuse to make this about you. Answer their insanity and hate with reason and human compassion and do this until each and every single one of them no longer feels good about holding such ridiculously awful beliefs.
Patricia Allende de Jung