Dear Counter-Protesters at White Supremacist Rallies:
I get it. I do. White Supremacist groups are horrible. They are bigots and all they seem to want to do is spread violence and hatred. But they are people. And they do have rights, including the First Amendment right to free speech and to peaceably assemble. When I heard about what happened today in Sacramento, my heart sank. Those people (racists and bigots, but I feel the need to stress again that they are people) had a valid permit to hold their rally or protest or whatever they were calling their gathering. There were only about thirty of them, so you know just how unpopular these kinds of things really are. They had the right to be out in public at the state capitol spewing whatever nasty opinions they have. Several hundred counter-protesters showed up. While this is not necessarily bad, the counter protesters arrived only with the goal of preventing the original groups from using their rights. A brawl broke out and seven people were stabbed, many others hurt less seriously. This is wrong. I don’t like bigots, either, but they have the same Constitutional rights as you do. They have the right to express their opinions. You do NOT get the right to infringe on their rights because you don’t like what they have to say. Yes, bigots of all stripes are coming out of the woodwork more publicly these days, emboldened by eight years of racist hatred toward our black President and certain spray-tanned presumptive Republican nominees. But if they follow the rules and laws, then you need to as well. It’s that simple. Shouting them down, preventing them from using a valid permit to assemble, deliberately infringing on their rights does not send the message that racism is bad. It makes you look like racists and bigots. Speak out. Get your own permits and hold counter-rallies. Acting illegally this way makes you look like the people trying to keep little black children out of schools in the South. It makes you seem as irrational as judges and county clerks who refuse to recognize same-sex marriages. You are sinking to their level by acting this way, and I am ashamed.
So quit it. You may not like what they have to say, but you need to remember that they have the right to say it, period.