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Equality, Justice and the First Amendment


Equality, Justice and the First Amendment

Anthony D. Romero

For all people of good will—regardless of party affiliation, race, creed, or color—the events that took place this weekend in Charlottesville were sickening and deeply disturbing.

Several clear themes emerged for me this weekend. And while they are pretty obvious, I thought I would share them with the broader ACLU community, in an effort to give voice to what many of us are feeling and to spark a further discussion that will allow us to move together with greater hope and resolve through what are likely to be troubling days ahead.


Excellent analysis of Civil Liberties, and no comments. Where are those who just recently on these pages were willing to cede to the state the right to determine free speech.


The problem I have is that you fought to allow people who were clearly advocating violence against others have a march designed to terrify people. And to declare that they were going to overthrow the government in order to do their ethnic cleansing of those they feel are inferior.
Now nothing in the constitution says that is legal at all. In fact the constitution is clear on rebelling and how it should be handled. The founders were clear when marchers carried weapons to protest by calling out the militia. The supreme court is also clear that free speech can be limited in special circumstances. That you cannot just say anything you damn well want to. For instance threatening to kill someone in authority is illegal. So why can’t it be illegal to threaten anyone else?
These nazis came prepared with weapons for a fight, thus advocating violence. How is that really legal that they could use as an excuse free speech to shout ethnic cleansing and war and be prepared to attack those who disagreed?
You cite that you have stood up for many groups in the past. And you have. But there is a big difference and you are equating those groups with nazis. None of those groups were marching to overthrow the government. None of those groups were marching with the express purpose to say they wanted people dead. None of them did that at all. But that was the message from the nazis, that they were marching to get others to join their crusade to rebel, that they were marching to kill all the people they hated. That was their message.
I find it difficult to believe that the founders would have tolerated people marching shouting death and rebellion to be legal in any way. And I find it difficult to believe that when certain speech is considered off limits, that we can’t outlaw calling for the deaths of people. Esp. when it is already illegal in certain cases.