First supposition: People hate lots of things, including other people.
Hypothetically, as long as I don’t cause harm to someone I hate or incite violence toward that person, which are criminal acts, I am allowed to go around saying “I hate them” to anyone who will listen. I am even allowed to gather like-minded people to be able to say “We all hate them.” And our hate can be directed at an individual or a group. This is our right to freedom of speech, isn’t it? Hate speech is not the same as hate crime, is it? From playground bullies to political leaders and everything in between, this “us against them” dynamic happens over and over and over again.
Second supposition: People who disagree with a particular rhetoric have their own right to exercise their freedom of speech…again without causing harm or malice.
Generally, extremist views are held by a minority of people. At any vote, debate, rally, or confrontation, usually a simple headcount indicates what most people believe. That is a powerful statement. However, that does not make anyone right and it does not make anyone wrong, unless or until a crime is committed.
Third supposition: Criminal acts are perpetrated by individuals…we arrest, try, and sentence individuals.
Yes, each individual may be following the dogma of a group, but it is still an individual choice to be a criminal. The group and it’s mantras may be objectionable (trying to come up with a word that doesn’t scream emotion), but if they are not illegal and commit no crimes, they have the right to exist, do they not?
By condemning people who “hate”, I believe we pressure their behaviors to become even more radical, more angry, sometimes underground, and definitely more dangerous. Is it possible that a dialogue could open instead? Who or what do you hate and why? Can we give you information that changes your mind? Can we give you experiences that change your mind? Can we begin to deradicalize the people who hate but really have no justifiable idea why…they’re just following the crowd?
A statue of Robert E. Lee was set to be pulled down. People have different beliefs about whether or not that “is right”. Can’t we take a vote, follow the results, and leave it at that?