That depends. Was he physically attacking you? Did he get into your face, and did you feel the imminent threat of him punching you? If those conditions have been met, I think it is fair and reasonable to punch the racist. Was he at a protest and spewing racially filled, vile and disgusting words from his mouth? If that is the extent of your justifiction for striking him, then I am sorry to inform you, no, it is not right to punch a racist under those circumstances. In fact, it is criminal to do so.
Let me begin by saying, and it is sad in this politically correct society that we live in that I feel the need to put in this disclaimer, that I utterly condemn what the KKK, or any other racist hate group stands for. Having said that, all speech, even “hate speech”, is a federally protected right. There is no disputing that. The case law is clear, the Supreme Court of the United States, as recently as October of 2016, has unanimously ruled that The First Amendment protects all speech. The case, Matal v. Tam, involved a federal trademark law which banned offensive names, and it was ruled as unconstitutional.
In the opinion, Justice Samuel Alito wrote:
[The idea that the government may restrict] speech expressing ideas that offend … strikes at the heart of the First Amendment. Speech that demeans on the basis of race, ethnicity, gender, religion, age, disability, or any other similar ground is hateful; but the proudest boast of our free speech jurisprudence is that we protect the freedom to express “the thought that we hate.”
Justice Anthony Kennedy said:
A law that can be directed against speech found offensive to some portion of the public can be turned against minority and dissenting views to the detriment of all. The First Amendment does not entrust that power to the government’s benevolence. Instead, our reliance must be on the substantial safeguards of free and open discussion in a democratic society.
Even the Washington Post, rated as “LEFT-CENTER BIAS” by MEDIA BIAS/FACT CHECK, published an article titled “Supreme Court unanimously reaffirms: There is no ‘hate speech’ exception to the First Amendment”, in which it said, “And the justices made clear that speech that some view as racially offensive is protected not just against outright prohibition but also against lesser restrictions”. So, if you are intelectully honest, you simply can not say “Hate Speech is not protected by the First Amendment”, because, very simply put, it clearly and irrefutably is.
Here are some more cases since 1949:
- Terminiello V. Chicago – A man gave a speech that prompted protestors to riot, and he was arrested in by the city of Chicago, but the Supreme Cour overturned his conviction.
- Brandenburg V. Ohio – A KKK member was arrested for his racial speech, and the Supreme Court unanimously ruled in his favor, and Justice William Brennan argued “the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do not permit a State to forbid or proscribe advocacy of the use of force or of law violation except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action.”.
- National Socialist Party V. Skokie – County authorities attempted to block a Nazi march, but they were overturned by the U.S. Supreme Court.
- R.A.V. V. City Of St. Paul – After a teenager burned a cross on an African American couple’s lawn, the St. Paul Bias Motivated Crime Ordinance came into play. In a unanimous ruling, the Supreme Court ruled that the ordinance was excessively broad.
- Virginia V. Black – In a 5-4 ruling the Supreme Court maintained that a ban on public burning of crosses would violate the First Amendment.
So, even though “hate speech” is clearly protected, why is there a need to clarify that fact? Well, for starters, many people simply are unaware that it is or refuse to accept that it is. In fact, there are public figures, including former and current politicians, who still publicly state that “hate speech” is not protected speech.
- Former Gov. and Former DNC Chairman Howard Dean via Tweet: “Hate speech isn’t protected by the First Amendment.”
- Co-Founder of Black Lives Matter Patrisse Cullors said in an interview, “Hate speech, which is what we’re seeing coming out of white nationalists groups, is not protected under the First Amendment rights”
- Portland Oregon Mayor Ted Wheeler said, “They have a First Amendment right to speak, but my pushback on that is that hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
- CNN anchor Chris Cuomo said, in a Twitter message. “Hate speech is excluded from protection. Don’t just say you love the Constitution. Read it.”
Most recently, NY Times Reporter Sheryl Gay Stolberg reporter tweeted: “hard left seemed as hate-filled as the alt-right” as she noted that “club-wielding ‘antifa‘ beating white nationalists being led out of the park”. She was chided by people for making a “moral equivalent” between what Antifa does vs what the KKK does. She was told on Twitter “Don’t buy into the false equivalency like Trump and sympathizers. Only one group would commit genocide against the other if given power”. She “rethought” her tweet, and then said “Rethinking this. Should have said violent, not hate-filled. They were standing up to hate.”
So, when you “stand up to hate”, according to some, it is okay to physically assault someone because you find what they are saying to be repugnant, vile, and morally wrong. I am sorry, but I have to vehemently disagree. I believe you are not morally right to resort to physical violence because you do not like what someone is saying. You have a right to disagree, but not to attack them over words. I might also add, Antifa is, in my view, just another hate group. If you don’t believe me, read this article from The Atlantic, “A Chilling Threat of Political Violence in Portland”.
But it gets worse. As I’m sure most of you are aware, a crowd of people who found a statue offensive, took it upon themselves to remove said statue: Protesters topple Confederate statue in North Carolina. The police watched and video taped, and Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews explained, “Collectively, we decided that restraint and public safety would be our priority,”. Respectfully Sheriff, I disagree. For starters, what if people got hurt during the action? What if the woman climbing the statue fell and got hurt, who do you think she would blame? Also, don’t you believe that in today’s social media driven society, a video of protesters openly engaging in the destruction of public property emboldens other protesters to do the same?
I’d like to close with the following suggestion: the next time the KKK, along with their White Supremacists and Nazi hate group friends hold a protest, IGNORE THEM! Let them spew their hatred, let them look like the ignorant, morally bankrupt, low-life cretins that they are! Because when they spout their hatred, the overwhelming majority of Americans despise them and condemn them. But when they are attacked simply because they are exercising their constitutionally protected right of free speech, you FORCE fair minded people to come to their defense. Let their movement die on its own, don’t help them in any way.by