I was recently watching a program about the history of Nazism in America. One of the earliest leaders decided to deny that the Holocaust had ever happened. A news program interviewed a bystander who was also a holocaust survivor. The upset man stated, “Free speech is alright, but not hatred against man.” (Sometimes I wonder if generations past haven’t talked much about the sixties because they are ashamed of what they did. Know this, there is forgiveness for those who would ask for it.)
Awhile ago, I mentioned the history of the phrase about shouting “Fire!” in a crowded theater. When there isn’t a fire, it’s deadly. When there is a fire, it’s usually worse. In the panic that ensues many people are trampled upon and the like. But what if a man was standing on a soapbox shouting to a crowded street corner? Does free speech protect him no matter what he says? In theory, yes. In practice, no. At certain events, to speak your alternate point of view can get you into trouble. If you really want to protest anything, you must enter a free speech zone. One free speech zone was a concrete reinforced chain link fence some five miles away from the event they were protesting. If they can now tell you where, when, and how to practice your Free Speech rights to protest, will they one day declare what you can say? Who can know for sure?
When your opinion is agreeable to the event you are attending, there is no problem. When your opinion is not, you risk legal issues. We’ve all heard the news reports of arrested pastors and guests escorted out of ethnic festivals. Do we really have a right to kick out people who don’t agree with us? If a racist wanted to make himself heard at a tolerance gathering, would he not be making a fool of himself? If an atheist wanted to participate at an interfaith festival, should he not be included? If a man wanted to restore the original tribal lands of the people who were here first, should he not have the right to say so?
I supposed the problem lies in the sorts of people who are good orators. These people, who by virtue of speech alone, can whip a crowd into frenzy. They draw people to them. This skill can be used for good or evil. Nazis leaders use it for evil. Winston Churchill used it to fight that evil. It’s not only the orators, but the listeners. The ones that easily get caught up in the emotions of just being there.
So it all comes down to Free Speech. For it to truly be free, that means one must risk it’s proper use and its misuse. One must put up when another has the mouth of a sailor or even the mouth of a preacher. The moment you say, “You can’t say that!” Is the moment you invite others to tell you what you can and cannot say. Now that is hardly speech at all, and it would most definitely not be free. One thing I do agree with, is that hatred against man is certainly nothing to admire, no matter who is hated or who does the hating.