Why I Refuse to Punch a Nazi

I hate politics. Ok, actually that’s not true. I really just don’t like talking about politics, but if I’m going to do it anywhere, it might as well be here, where the mask comes off. Over the past year or two I’ve immersed myself in a lot more politics than the previous 20 years of my life combined, and I’ve learned how to more clearly define my thoughts on the government and the role it should have in individuals’ lives. I’ve also shaken myself free of a lot of misconceptions and bad ideas that I thought were good. I’ve come to understand that with America being the culturally diverse nation that it is, there is a need for a separation between my personal morals and beliefs and what the law of the land should be. If I had to boil down all of the learning I’ve gotten in my head this past year in the realm of politics, it would be this:

Just because something is immoral doesn’t mean it should be illegal.

If you’ve read my other posts or just know me as a person, you know that I’m a pretty conservative Christian, so that statement may lead you to believe that I’ve converted to liberalism, but you’d be wrong. In fact, despite the fact that “the Christian Right” is a major voting block, Liberals throw around morality arguments just as often as their Republican counterparts, just from a different point of view. I still lean slightly to the right, but for the most part I’ve become a Libertarian, which is basically – in my view – summed up socially by “live and let live,” and economically by “the free market will sort it out.” I believe in a minimalistic government that only intervenes when absolutely necessary, allowing it’s current duties to be carried out by private business wherever possible, and moving whatever power the government has left into the state and local levels where it can. It really shouldn’t have much social control at all. In a nation that is becoming increasingly team-oriented (or even “tribal,” as some have called it), I think the only real solution is to put responsibility back on the individual instead of dictating their responsibilities according to race, gender, socio-economic status, or any other grouping we decide to single out with regulations and subsidies. Whether it’s leftists calling people who want to take a closer look at immigration reform xenophobes or righties calling people who are worried about mental health snowflakes, grouping has become an epidemic that only serves to divide our country along deeper and deeper lines, making it harder as time goes on to fix the issues in front of us and to see each other as fellow human beings.

But what does this have to do with punching Nazis? That is, after all, what this article is all about according to the headline. The truth is, it has everything to do with it. The fact of the matter is that despite the radically different and, in my opinion, disgusting views that these white supremacists have, they have the right to express them, and any physical violence enacted upon them to stop the verbal expression of their ideas is a violation of their rights. The only exception to that is if they make a specific threat. Hate speech is not a crime, but pointing out a specific person and saying, “I’m going to kill you,” is. At this point, the reason for why that person wants to murder doesn’t matter. It doesn’t matter if it’s racially motivated or financially motivated or if its an act of revenge for a real or perceived wrong. Hate is not a crime, and it shouldn’t be, but threats are.

Before you jump down my throat for being a sympathizer, keep in mind what I said earlier: “just because something is immoral doesn’t mean it should be illegal.” I believe that hate is something we should fight against, but using the law as a gun to shoot down ideas we don’t like sets a dangerous precedent. Sure, we may be using it against neo-Nazis today, but what comes next? With a largely Republican government at the moment, it’s not entirely implausible that they would deem certain socialist factions as communist sympathizers and use their newfound power to silence them as well. Honestly, I think socialism is one of the worst economic frameworks you could ever work under, but I don’t want those voices advocating it to be silenced by the government. When you silence an entire group based on their ideas alone, you’ve tied the noose around democracy. And that logic works just as much for white supremacists as it does for socialists, as much as we may not like it.

So, hate speech is not a crime. It’s terrible, it brings out the worst in some people, and ultimately makes this planet a worse place to live in, but the alternative is the destruction of free speech – and ultimately, freedom – as we know it. But we can still punch Nazis, right? I mean, if anyone deserves to be punched, it’s definitely them, isn’t it? Well, to go back to my previous example, if the white supremacists can be punched, why not the socialists? They want to steal from the producers in society and give it to the consumers, ultimately leading to our self-destruction as fewer and fewer people see the point in even contributing to the economy. That’s not an America I want to live in, so I should be allowed to go punch Bernie Sanders, right? No, that’s stupid. First of all, I’d get arrested for assault and maybe even for infringing on his First Amendment rights if he were speaking at the time. Then, Bernie would just be able to play the victim and gain more support for his cause because of it. And that’s exactly what happens every time someone punches a Nazi. The person who did it gets arrested, maybe getting a few pats on the back from like-minded people, but ultimately furthering the cause of what he’s fighting against.

I whole-heartedly believe that racism is completely idiotic and irrational, and I would never defend the ideas that people like this spout off. But I live in America, which, in case you’ve forgotten, is the land of the free, and I will defend that freedom with every breath I have, even for those who I’d rather never hear from again.

 

Obviously, this is going to be a bit of a touchy subject, and I’d love to hear your thoughts, because, like I said, I believe in free speech and the exchange of ideas. So let’s talk. Do you believe you should be allowed to punch Nazis? Do you think the government should be allowed to ban their gatherings? Am I totally missing some major point that makes all of this make sense? Let me know what you think.

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