Friday, July 30, 2010

When are Rights, Wrong?

1st Amendment to the Constitution:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances."

When we claim to possess the right of "freedom of speech", are there limits as to what we can say? You have probably heard the same thing I have, "You do not have the right to yell 'Fire!' in a crowded theater." Sounds reasonable and makes sense.

It also sounds reasonable to expect that some conversations would cross the line as to protected speech. If a group of people were planning a crime - say, killing someone; would law enforcement have to wait until they actually attempted to carry out the murder before they could step in and file charges? Is a discussion about an intent to commit a crime, a crime?

How about someone attempting to insight violence? Can you stand on your soapbox, on the street corner and preach to the crowd that they should go and commit crimes? How far can "hate speech" be taken before it crosses the line of becoming a criminal act?

Our country now has a category of criminal behavior categorized as "hate crimes". We have watched, at least on TV, someone burning the American flag. We have seen the photos of protesters at soldiers funerals with signs stating that God hates soldiers, etc. There are the "works of art" showing Jesus in sinful acts, etc. All of these, we are told, are protected under the first amendment as freedom of expression, which they say is a part of freedom of speech.

So, if a white guy promoted the murder of black people, what would that be called? Is it freedom of speech, a hate crime, or just plain criminal? Since "justice is blind" and does not see or weigh the color of skin of the accused or the victim, what is wrong for one race is also wrong for any other - right?

If I were a racist and openly encouraged the murder of people of another race, I believe that I would spend a long time behind bars; and, in my opinion, rightly so. So, how is it that the following statements could be made in public, filmed, and broadcast on national television; and nothing happens?

"I hate white people – all of them! Every last iota of a cracker, I hate 'em... You want freedom? You're gonna have to kill some crackers! You're gonna have to kill some of their babies!" yelled Minister King Samir Shabazz, aka Maurice Heath, the New Black Panther Party's Philadelphia leader.

Is this kind of rhetoric protected under freedom of speech? Is this just another one of those "expressions" that the rest of us have to put up with, or is this criminal behavior? When a black man stands on the street and yells to other black men that they need to go kill white people and their babies, in order for the black men to ever be free; that has crossed the line. This is not the expression of opinion, it is the promotion of murder. If I, as a white, did what he, as a black, did; the blacks would be marching in the streets demanding that I be punished. If he, as a black, did what he, as a black, did; and he were arrested, the blacks would be marching in the streets demanding that he not be punished.

Folks, we have a problem here! If a white person paints the "n" word on something in the public view, that is called a hate crime. But we have this angry, black man, who clearly has an aggressive nature, calling white people "crackers"; and no one seems to have an issue with that. How could that be racist or a hate crime? It was committed by a "black". We all know that only "whites" are racist. Everyone else of any other race is characterized as being a victim of the whites and it is understandable when they lash out.

Is the right, wrong? Should "freedom of speech" be restricted? The answer lies in another common sense saying, "Your rights end at the point where they would begin infringing upon someone else's rights." If we each have equal rights, then I do not have the right to trample on your rights - even if it is only in my speech.

Just as we do not have the right to promote the overthrow of our government by violent means, we should not have the right to promote the overthrow of another's life by violent means. If this man is not held accountable for this type of speech, the line will be pushed further. If you tell someone to go kill someone, and they do, you are also guilty of a crime. So, why would the same act, on your part, not be a crime if that person decided to ignore you and not kill someone. You committed the same offense either way.

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