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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6 thoughts on “Why I Refuse to Punch a Nazi

  1. As for me I do not think the gathering of such groups, including Nazis, or the Klan, are appropriate, it obviously effects someone, whether it be physically or emotionally. It says that you are free to say what you want (freedom of speech) and that is not the issue, it’s the conflicts that arrive after such meetings. I’m not saying that these groups get together and plan on conflicts to arise, but I am saying that the groups cause this voilence that arises after such hate speeches.
    After saying this I think that the government could make these groups, less noticable. Free speech is a wonderful thing, but when do these kind of things go too far, as far as disturbing the peace? I can’t blast My favorite Mixtape on my Boom Box without having an angry man yell at me (also technically disturbing the peace) from across the street! When are white people with teekee torches disturbing the peace? When does protesting turn into a traffic jam? When it gets out of hand, then people get irrational and say things like,
    “If this protester gets in front of my car, I’m gonna hit this dude.” People get angry and say things like punching Nazis, but you simply can’t, and to be fair something (such as the government) should be able to step in to “keep the peace” by whatever means necessary.
    Why do I say this, well we’ve done it before to keep the peace and I think we’re going weak, letting protester of a Nazi Party agenda, go around with a common backyard accessory.
    [The Whiskey Rebellion (also known as the Whiskey Insurrection) was a tax protest in the United States beginning in 1791 during the presidency of George Washington. The so-called “whiskey tax” was the first tax imposed on a domestic product by the newly formed federal government. It became law in 1791, and was intended to generate revenue for the war debt incurred during the Revolutionary War]
    After this the president, George Washington, took his men, and killed every last protester in order to keep peace across America.
    Now I’m not saying we need to go kill Nazis, but I am saying action needs to be taken in order to keep peace, (not punching Nazis) and if the problem continues, I feel that larger steps need to be taken in order to take care of the problem.

  2. Thanks for your thoughts, Ian, let’s go through them and I’ll try to give you my answers to them.
    Your first point is that these rallies are affecting people “physically and emotionally.” We’ll get to the physical part a little later on, so bear with me on that, but as far as these rallies being emotionally affecting…isn’t that what they’re supposed to do? No matter what the cause the march or rally is in support of, the whole point of it is to draw an emotional response. Whether it’s about pro-choice or pro-LGTBQ or pro-black or pro-white, all of these events are meant to draw the light to their specified cause and make people think about it. So I don’t think that’s an extremely valid argument.
    On to the physical part, you said that “I’m not saying that these groups get together and plan on conflicts to arise, but I am saying that the groups cause this violence that arises after such hate speeches.” Like I said in the original article, hate speech is just speech and can’t be made illegal without falling down a very slippery slope. However, the violent acts made by people in the wake of (or during) these rallies and speeches should be cracked down on, regardless of which side they’re on. Individuals should be punished for the crimes they commit, not the organizations they are a part of. I believe in that as a general principle, and I don’t think we should make an exception here.
    As far as making these groups “less noticeable,” the best way to do that would be to not incite violence at their rallies so they get less coverage. Despite being a “supremacist” group, they thrive on playing the victim, just like many other groups here in America and across the world. The harder you hit them, the more people are going to join them and the harder they’ll dig into their trenches, it’s simple psychology.
    When you talk about “disturbing the peace,” there’s a major difference between you blasting your boombox and these rallies, which is that the organizers of the rally obtained a permit from the city to allow them to assemble on public property. They had gone through the proper channels and obtained the legal right to assemble there. Once things got violent, the police *should* have put those involved into custody and dispersed the crowds. But they didn’t, so things escalated throughout the day. So yes, I agree with you that police should have the ability to keep the peace, although I’m a bit concerned about the whole “by whatever means necessary” bit.
    I’m confused about your statement that we’re “letting a protester of the Nazi Party agenda go around with a backyard accessory.” Are you saying we should outlaw tiki torches? Or just the Nazi’s use of them?
    I’m also not really sure I see the correlation to the Whiskey Rebellion. In that case, a group of rebels were attacking tax collectors, literally whipping and tar and feathering them to avoid paying a federal alcohol tax. As disgusting as I find the ideals of white supremacists, this group hasn’t done anything like that. I know the old KKK did, but I haven’t seen anything from this group that warrants that type of response.
    I agree that action needs to be taken, I just don’t think we should leave it up to the government to take care of it and I don’t think we need to stoop to violence either.

    Thanks again for your response, hopefully this gives you some stuff to think about!

    1. Like I said I’m not saying they should kill them like they did the rebels from the whiskey rebellion, but given time this matter might escalate if not handled properly by the authorities, just as the beginning of the KKK they were harmless (at first). Former Confederate General Nathan Bedford Forrest was the KKK’s first grand wizard; in 1869, he unsuccessfully tried to disband it after he grew critical of the Klan’s excessive violence. This shows that a protest group (weather good or bad and protest group) can start off as simple as just trying to spread their thoughts and opinions on a situation or “to draw the light to their specified cause and make people think about it.” As you said in your response to my response. But as these voilent acts and characteristics start to be a problem I feel you must pull the root out of the situation, to make sure this group cannot act out ever again. And as for your last claim I also think it does not matter who attends to the problem, it just matters on who will solve the problem in the best manners possible.

  3. Are you saying we should punish them for crimes they haven’t yet committed? I don’t think you are, but I can’t think of another reason why you’re saying that we need government intervention to stop them.
    And I think it matters very much who attends to the problem. If you start using the government and the law as a club to smash down people and ideas you don’t like, as soon as someone comes into power that doesn’t like your ideas, well then you’re in a whole heap of trouble. Even if the white supremacist problem is a short term one, the solution will have effects that last much longer.

  4. I’m definitely not saying that but I’m saying when these groups do start to get voilent, that’s if they do, someone needs to intervene. Sorry if my response felt a little straight forward to violence. I am still confused on this subject, how should we take care of it if the matter should get worse? As in the groups get violent, what would you say the next step be in order to keep the peace, and not use the government as a club? Who should attend this problem and when? I’m asking sincerely because you’ve shot down most of my ideas lol.

    1. Ok well now that I have a better idea of what you’re saying, I think we can kind of agree. When people get violent and attack others, the government has every right to get involved and detain them. I think where we differ is that I don’t think any real good will come of bringing the government down on the group as a whole instead of just the individuals who are actually committing crimes and those who are specifically inciting others to violence. When you target the whole group, it forces them to rally together and fight back against “the man.” But when you target individuals who are definitively breaking the law, you’re removing the more troublesome elements from the group, leaving calmer heads to prevail. If it turns out that nobody in this group can actually think rationally and abide by the laws of the land, then they’ll all end up in jail anyway regardless of whether or not we target their entire group. So why not do things the moral, legal way?

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