No, We Shouldn’t Tolerate Hate Speech

I have been silent on the protests that happened in Charlottesville, mostly because I’ve been trying to gather my thoughts into something more coherent that doesn’t outright spew obscenities at the people involved, the ones clearly on the wrong side of history because we’ve already decided that racism is a bad thing. In fact, I’ve been too silent about a many great deal of things, all because I didn’t want to stir the pot, so to speak.

When I think about it, it’s silly.

Change always happens from someone willing to stir the pot.

ON OUR PRESIDENT

The only thing I’m going to say about our president is that if he truly wanted to condemn the people in these protests, he should have been much more blunt instead of dancing around the issue with vague rhetoric. I don’t know if he’s trying to keep from angering his base, which does consist of white supremacists, but at this point, he shouldn’t care. His vague rhetoric just makes the alt-right think he’s on their side. After all, look at Mitt Romney. He wasn’t afraid to condemn these Nazis and KKK cowards. So why the hell has Trump not bluntly spoken out that he does not identify with white supremacists?

ON BLM AND ANTIFA

I’m also not going to discuss BLM or Antifa in-depth. The fact that these groups even decided they needed to exist is a symptom of a much larger problem. If POC feel oppressed and state that they feel oppressed, everyone else should shut their mouths and stop denying their experiences, especially people who retort by saying, ‘I’m still waiting on my white privilege card,’ and ‘Slavery was forever ago. Get over it!’ and ‘Be grateful for everything you have today! It was given to you by a white person.’ Drop the bullshit and listen to the people who are trying to tell you their stories of times they did not feel safe being a POC in America.

I will finish my point by saying that BLM cannot be classified as a hate group because it was not started with hateful intentions, despite there being extremist sects, just as there are in any freaking group that has ever existed in the history of humanity with its own ideology. However, the Nazis and the KKK were started purely to oppress groups of people they didn’t/don’t like. Not because they wanted rights that everyone else gets to have.

***

So why am I using a fitness blog to talk about this? A blog post by Chrissy King made me realize I do need to speak up about it. After all, although my job is primarily fitness, primarily putting people through exercises to obtain their goals, I also deal with all sorts of people from different backgrounds with different opinions, views, and mindsets. Do I speak politics with my clients? No. But I do with gym members who may casually bring them up. Has anyone asked me about how I feel about the protests? No, but I want something to point to in case they do ask. Plus, a blog is a platform. If my tiny little opinion can help someone better understand something, then I’ve done my job.

The Unite the Right Rally was started because groups of people wanted to protest the removal of Confederate monuments and memorials from public spaces. While we can view this as a move to not erase a part of our American history, every person who attended this rally was a KKK member, a Nazi, a white supremacist–the labels don’t even matter because they’re all the same and all believe in the same damn thing: preservation of the white race because of a laughably false belief that we’re being oppressed into extinction.

Frankly, I don’t give a crap if white people don’t exist in the far-flung future. That just means we willingly decided multiculturalism was not a bad thing and that the color of our skin doesn’t erase our heritage. These people are simply threatened because they know minorities get the short end of the stick at times, and they’re terrified of experiencing just that. They want to be the only ones who can oppress, the only ones who can make other people ashamed to be themselves. They’re afraid they won’t be at the top of the food chain anymore.

ON THE TOPIC OF PRIDE

Do you know why white pride is bullshit? Because we know where we came from. I know there is Irish and Scottish in my family. My last name, Forbes, is enough. I can have pride in heritage; however, blacks brought to this country were whitewashed, and I can guarantee you that without an ancestry DNA test, a great deal of them are not going to be able to tell you what’s in their blood. They’re not going to be able to tell you if their Nigerian or Congolese, unless they actually immigrated to America from another country.

And even if they could tell you what’s in their blood, why should they not have black pride? Our country treated them horrifically for a greater part of our history, and I interpret black pride as a way to reclaim blackness as something that was never inferior to begin with. They were never oppressed because of their heritage. They were always oppressed simply based on the fact that their skin just happens to be several shades darker.

If you’re offended by black pride, you really need to reevaluate what you find so offensive about taking pride in something that was once deemed genetically inferior cause “reasons.”

Let’s also stop bringing up how blacks owned slaves too. That did not happen in our country! What happened in other countries has zilch to do with what happened here, even if blacks in other countries were complicit in selling their own off to slave owners in America. The fact is that blacks, POC in general, were disenfranchised for a greater part of our history, and that whites, particularly males, for a greater part of our history, had the ability to do what POC couldn’t do: vote, own property, get an education.

How dare you try to play devil’s advocate by crying that blacks owned slaves too.

ON THE TOPIC OF MONUMENTS

I don’t have a fully formed opinion yet on the removal of Confederate monuments and memorials. On the one hand, I don’t really care because the Confederates were a group of treasonous people anyway. On the other hand, the people condemning the removal never want to condemn our modern day Confederates consisting of the groups of people I mentioned above. They pay lip service by claiming they think racism and the like is wrong, but they’re much more passionate about condemning the other side, the people who want to oppose these racists, like BLM.

They always want to talk about how the other side is filled with hypocrites, but they don’t stop to think why the other side feels like it needs to exist. If BLM feels the need to chant that black lives matter because they otherwise don’t feel like they matter, shut up and listen to why they feel this way. Stop erasing them by chanting all lives matter. Stop crying that blue lives matter; cops aren’t a race of people.

ON THE TOPIC OF HATE SPEECH 

So now on to the heart of the matter. What happened at the Unite the Right Rally was just appalling. This rally was really just an excuse for a bunch of hateful people to gather and publicize their hatred because in America we don’t believe in limiting anyone’s speech, no matter how abhorrent it may be.

But guess what? Hate speech should not be tolerated. We should not be constantly told to tolerate hate speech, or else we’re just as bad as they are. You kick a dog enough times, it will turn around and bite, and, unfortunately, we put the dog down instead of analyzing what provoked it.

We wring our hands and try to take the moral high ground when protests like this turn violent because the other side decided to show up; however, words are never just words because plenty of words have brought about some pretty horrific actions. So don’t act morally superior when someone decides to, for example, punch a Nazi in the face for expressing racist and anti-Semitic attitudes. After all, if you only come out of the woodwork to condemn the person who punched the Nazi in the face, you are otherwise complicit in what these sorts of people stand for. If you are not, speak up before it gets to the point where someone feels like they have to punch a Nazi in the face.

We can say violence begets violence, but I know for many, it can be constantly exhausting taking the high road, when taking the high road oftentimes does absolutely nothing to address the actual issue. If you’ve been watching Game of Thrones, you’ll know Dany is tired of taking the high road because it has thus far gotten her nowhere. I don’t think her current solution was that great, but she is the dog that has been kicked enough times. And oftentimes when people implore others to take the high road, it means ignoring the issue.

I know this could bring upon a slippery slip, demanding that hate speech not be tolerated because it incites violence. It’s a radical idea, right? After all, telling someone you hate pineapple could garner you a punch to the face if a person is in a pissed-off enough mood to be easily offended by pineapple haters. But that isn’t hate speech because pineapple is not a protected class of fruit.

Here is how hate speech is defined by Merriam-Webster: “speech expressing hatred of a particular group of people.”

Here’s another definition from Wikipedia:  “[it] attacks a person or group on the basis of attributes such as race, religion, ethnic origin, sexual orientation, disability, or gender.”

That’s pretty cut and dry.

I’m not advocating for jailing people who express hate speech. I’m advocating for a society that doesn’t give a platform to it. Unite the Right never should have been given permits to protest. They never should have been given any type of power that emboldened them enough to feel like they could come out, not mince words, and be openly hateful about those different from them.

We need to stop giving these people power by arguing how we should be tolerant of hate speech. It’s gross.

I will give the benefit of the doubt that no one knew exactly what Unite the Right would be. It seemed like it was originally supposed to be a mere protest about removing Confederate monuments and memorials. So, frankly, I don’t know what the solution is to preventing hate speech from being given the ability to even breed.

All I know is we need to stop defending hate speech as some sort of God-given right, because the people so adamant about protecting it as a form of free speech, the people so adamant that they’re good people because they’re not racists/sexists/bigots/whatever, never EVER speak up when it matters most. They only speak up when they have some moral  hand-wringing to do because, say, a black person did something that supports their idea that all races do shitty, horrible things to one another. Or when they feel like playing devil’s advocate in a situation that does not warrant one.

People who espouse hate speech do not deserve neither empathy nor sympathy.

FUN FACT! You’re not a good person because you say you are. You’re not a good person because you’re a good parent who would never raise their children to be hateful. You’re not a good person because you could never imagine being part of a hate group. You’re not a good person because you condemn violence in any form. Your goodness is determined by your actions, and if you only ever speak up when it fits your narrative that both sides are just as bad, you cannot call yourself a truly good person. 

I am setting the bar fairly high for what it means to be a good person. After all, we’re all flawed. We all make mistakes. Our mistakes shouldn’t define us. I’m not even claiming to wear the mantel of “good person.” But in my 27 years of life, I’m learning that the most opinionated people, the people who suffer a severe form of cognitive dissonance, will never change their views, no matter what supporting information you give them. You can tell them that 3+3 is 6, and they’ll find a study that says it’s 7 from a website called support3plus3equals7.com. They’re incredibly tone deaf. They don’t even grasp the concept of cognitive dissonance.

These people try to justify their goodness, but they’re deaf to anything that contradicts their current beliefs. These are not good people. These are people who will tell you to take the high road–without offering solutions. These are people who will tell you both sides are bad when one side started it by throwing Nazi salutes. The other side would have never shown up otherwise. These are people who, in their whinging about both sides being just as bad, NEVER offer solutions to prevent the clash in the first place. They’re just there because it makes them feel like morally superior people who can go to bed at the end of the day believing they did something good because they spoke up and said both sides did bad things and they themselves would never do those bad things or advocate doing bad things.

Here’s the solution: stop giving a platform for hate speech, and you won’t have to worry about violent outbreaks.

 

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