The first amendment was created in June 7, 1789 by James Madison. He felt these amendments would “expressly declare the great right of mankind secured under the constitution.” Of course in that time and age slavery was yet to be abolished, yet Nazis were not yet an organized society. The founders of the 13 colonies wanted to prevent tyranny, the reason why they left England, and wanted to avoid giving absolute power to the government. Freedom of speech, initially, not made with the idea that some day evil could hide behind it. Anthony Lewis said that the first amendment not only protects ethical beliefs, but protects those thoughts that we hate. Throughout the entire cluster, real life events in which the first amendment is put into practice are discussed, in hopes that we understand that liberty comes at a price. We find examples of Freedom of speech, perhaps like those nazis that wanted to march in Skokie; freedom of press, as an example stands the Irregular Verbs poem in which censorship is mocked; and freedom of religion, discussed in the letters written to Washington, from the Touro Synagogue, are all put into consideration in the reading. Further on in this essay, privileges of freedom of expression will be asserted now that we know that minorities, in particular, are affected by the right of bigots to express their radicalized and ignorant ideals.
Now, the key question is, “Do you agree that recognizing a right of the nazis to march in Skokie was the best solution? And bluntly my answer would be a hard no, but such opinion should be explained. In Europe, the idea that Jews were an inferior race, evil, and stealing german jobs became so popular that Hitler was able to get away with the murder of millions innocent minorities. Because of this persecution, Jews began to migrate and many of them found asylum in the United States of America. Many Holocaust survivors found themselves in a little town in Chicago, Skokie. Years later a neo-nazi organization wanted to exhibit their swastika and other hateful imagery in a racist demonstration. Local authorities prohibited such artifacts to be displayed and later on the court ruled the decision “unconstitutional” because these people had no violent intents in mind. In no way should it be okay to allow groups of people to threaten or intimidate others, by turning a blind eye to such demonstrations, the government is putting in danger the public safety. Just because no violent action is intended to be carried out, does not mean that subliminal messages will not reach children, who are susceptible to manipulations and could later on adopt these same ideologies based on antiquated opinions.
Nazi organizations including the Klu Klux Klan are protected by the first amendment. These are groups of people that assemble to intimidate and insert fear in the minds of both jews and african americans. In fact a KKK leader said. “Personally, I believe the African American should be returned to Africa, the Jew returned to Israel.” and the court reversed his conviction because there was no proof that the speaker was inciting “imminent lawless action.” But to my knowledge, no KKK member has ever been prosecuted by the law for lynching innocent black folks, now, how are you going to tell me that this sort of language does not spark such hatred that it would provoke an entire group of people to murder another human being because of the color of their skin. How is it possible that a group like the Black Panther Party was deemed corrupt when all they strived for was equality, they vouched to protect african americans from police brutality and even organized breakfast and dinner for school children from low income households. But when Nazis decide to have their anti-sematic views displayed in public, it is protected by the Constitution.
Allowing such groups to demonstrate their bigoted beliefs not only threatens public safety, but sends messages to everyone, but mostly kids, who can be easily manipulated. Children have yet to form critical thought of their own, which makes it easy to corrupt their minds at a young age. This is one of the reasons in which I am in opposition of allowing hate speech. Having different ideals and beliefs is completely fine, but it stops being a right and becoming an abused privilege when you are not only speaking out but targeting minorities. The government should never allow assembly’s that can potentially endanger, traumatize or deeply hurt someone based on discriminating because of gender, color, creed or sexual orientation. As Lewis states in America we tolerate hateful speech based on “an inveterate social and historical optimism” when in other countries such as Germany, criminalizes the display of Nazi symbols, in Canada Holocaust deniers can be prosecuted and punished, as well as in 11 european countries, so why can’t we do the same here in the American Continent? To deny the Holocaust would be the equivalent of denying slavery. Instead of avoiding the topic we should learn from it and teach our children to sympathize and create consciousness in order to avoid committing an atrocity like that ever again.
I do believe that freedom of expression is a two way street. As civilized citizens we should learn to listen to those whose ideologies we oppose or even despise, and that way we can sit down and have fluent conversations to discuss both points of view. With that said, there should be limits to our freedom of speech. To begin with, this amendment was created to remove absolute power from government, not to promote hatred, not for nazis to prey on black folks or jews. If offensive and antiquated ideas are being spread the authorities should take action. Hate can never be the solution. The distribution of hatred can spark violent actions. Take for example the man, who shall remain nameless, that entered a protestant church to specifically murder african americans because he despised them. Tell me how the first amendment protects him now. People that instigate violent words should be prosecuted and treated because it has been said many times that racism is a mental disorder, nobody is born that way. By getting people the treatment they require, we can begin to move forward as a unified country.