Freedom of (Hate) Speech

hate-speech-vs-free-speech

I’ve seen a lot of people discussing Moore, OK and the crowd of people that chased off Westboro. I will admit, there was something satisfying watching those idiots suffer some serious social repercussions for their hatemongering. Their behavior is reprehensible and ignorant and I really wish they would go away.

That being said, we should be clear that threatening someone you don’t agree with is not being a “good American” or in keeping with the Constitution. (And yes, approaching them in an angry, menacing way while shouting ~is~ threatening them, regardless of physical contact.) Too many times people cry about their right to free speech, but what they really mean is they support free speech they agree with. They protest about government intrusion when their beliefs are silenced, but then declare justice when an opponent receives the same treatment.

If this had been a pro-LGBT or pro-choice rally that was outnumbered, with a group of rural mid-westerners approaching them in that manner, this story would have been conveyed much differently. There would have been cries for social justice and police investigations on these “intolerant rednecks” who ran the peaceful protesters out. No matter how satisfying it might have been to see Westboro run away, the behavior of the counter-protesters was unethical and inappropriate. Westboro had a legal right to be there and spout their hate without the threat of violence upon their person.

The Constitution protects everyone’s right to free speech, whether you like or agree with it.