Ron Paul, Cross Burning, and Freedom

In discussing Ron Paul’s position on the Civil Rights Act, classic questions come up. Do we need to restrict freedom at all? At what point does one person’s freedom infringe on anothers?

Let’s take a case in point (Sara at Orcinus):

the Austin American-Statesman let Paul share his views in his own words:

Not all officials express alarm when discussing cross burnings. U.S.Rep.-elect Ron Paul, a Texas Republican from Surfside, described such activity as a form of free speech in some situations.

“Cross burning could be a crime if they were violating somebody’s property rights,” he said during his campaign. But if you go out on your farm some place and it’s on your property and you put two sticks together and you burn it, I am not going to send in the federal police.”

See, here’s that problem again. When Paul explains it, it sounds all nice and reasonable. What you do on your property absolutely should be your business, and nobody should be able to tell you what you can and can’t put on your Saturday night bonfire. But Texas was having a huge upswing in cross-burnings that year, which were part of an (all-too-successful) effort to terrorize its African-American community. There’s plenty of legal precedent that one person’s right to free speech ends when it begins to terrorize others into silence — and, because of this, cross-burning is recognized as a hate crime in many jurisdictions across the country. But Ron Paul, for all his libertarian talk, apparently doesn’t believe in putting any restrictions on speech, even when it damages other individuals and the overall level of civil behavior in society.

Symbolic violence can be a powerful thing. I can’t seem to find the picture online, but a photograph I saw in college is an essential example of symbolic violence. It is a photo of a bloodied body in front of a church. How is this symbolic violence, you might ask? That body could have been left anywhere. It could have been buried or hidden. Instead it was left out for everyone to see. That’s half the message: “We are not afraid of consequences”. A Church has a historical meaning as a place of sanctuary. Leaving the corpse in front of the church says: “You are not safe anywhere”.

So what does a burning cross say?

These days, a cross is burned about every week in the United States. Such an act — historically tied to lynchings, beatings, rapes and other Klan atrocities — is bound to raise fears of violence.

It says “You have been marked. You are next.”. Ron Paul’s suggestion that we might productively limit restrictions on cross burnings down to violations of property rights seems all right on the surface only. If the cross is on a neighbor’s lawn (who approves) or on the street, are property rights being violated? Is someone being terrorized and threatened?

A cross burning is about as defensible an act of free speech as showing up at someone’s house and saying “We are going to drag you out front, beat you, and then hang you until you are dead.”. It is a threat, terrorism in the most direct sense of the word.  It is also currently a crime.

There are many things the government should not stick its nose into, but there are some basic responsibilities a government should have. One of the first and foremost of these is protecting its citizens and their rights. Ron Paul should recognize this, and re-examine his positions on freedom and crime accordingly.

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33 Responses

  1. Most states have laws to protect people who are threatened with violence. In communities where cross-burning is really taken as a threat, I’d agree the police need to try to protect the threatened. But I don’t see how this calls for federal (and unconstitutional) legistlation against cross burning?

    I don’t believe you touched on Dr. Paul’s true definition of freedom. It includes freedom from coercion of all kinds, including coercion by threats of violence. Threatening someone with harm if they do not comply with your wishes is not freedom, after all. But I don’t think you can simply say every cross that is burned is a direct threat against someone’s life or property, that sounds like something local authorities would need to decide.

  2. I’m not certain that I understand Ron Paul completely on this issue. It seems like you are discussing two different things. You mention threats, terror, rape and murder, where Ron Paul appears to be talking only about the act of burning a piece of property. I agree with your assessment. A burning cross is typically an aggressive act towards an individual. In those cases it should be investigated and dealt with as a criminal matter. Like any other such case. I imagine Ron Paul agrees with that.

    Anyway, thanks for the article. It was an interesting read.

  3. Why must protection be limited to activity by the States? What is it about a federal law that is so worrisome?

    Supporting freedom from coercion would seem to contradict his publicly stating position on cross burning.

    Certainly, whether the burning cross was used as a threat as opposed to some archaic means of signaling family members is best left up to those investigating the case. But I think there should be a law in place to protect those who are threatened.

  4. Can you back up and clarify how a cross burning is a threat again? If there is one a week and it says, as you point out, that you are marked, or next, is there a (presumably) black american killed each week who had a cross burned in his yard or nearby? I guess what I am interested in is seeing a direct correlation between cross burning and actual violence. There is a correlation between direct verbal threats and actual violence- not 1 to 1, but in most cases where a real, deliberate threat is made, there is violence that backs it up. I don’t see that with burning crosses.

  5. fitnessfortheoccasion,

    Nearly all criminal laws are state laws. Thats just how our country was set up. I think you could make a good case for some criminal laws being federal (such as violence or threats of violence) but currently they are not. So cross burning, if its perceived as a threat, would fall under a state law.

    Unilt I looked it up, I didn’t know many instances of cross-burning were used as threats or intimidation. But I really didn’t know anything about the KKK, either.

    It turns out the Supreme Court basically ruled the same way:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Virginia_v._Black
    It looks like Justice Thomas agreed with you in his dissent.

  6. @fitnessfortheoccaion: I hope I didn’t misunderstand you. Here is my view on why federal law is problematic.

    In general, laws should be as close to the local community as possible. The greater the distance, the greater the possible abuse and the harder it is to change. This is what history teaches us.

    In a democracy the people should have the power, and the closer to the people the power is located, the more direct the democracy is. You can argue against democracy of course, but it’s hard to find an alternative.

  7. I think the spirit of his position on these things is that Federal Laws many times do more harm than good. Take Federal Drug laws for example, where people dying from cancer are put in prison for using marijuana under Federal Law even though a state may have legalized it medically with the support of it’s citizens (this does happen). Federal Laws become sort of an all or nothing imprecise tool that can be dangerous. Clearly, someone puttng a cross and burning it in someone’s yard would be charged – it most certainly is a threat deserving of consequences for the perpatrator and protection for the citizen threatened. I think RP’s just saying that you don’t need a Federal law against burning two pieces of wood assembled in a cross on your own property. Federal Laws in these cases are in many ways a statement, showing the government is “doing something” while they’re not really necessary – clear violoations of the law are already covered and should/will be dealt with on a case by case basis. I guess one thought that comes up is that if lets say, there were racist cops in a particular area who ignored some of these situations that were clearly threats, then maybe the Federal Law would provide some help. But, the real problem is that particular police department not carrying out justice, or using selective justice. That should be dealt with as a separate crime and most certainly be dealt with immediately.

    I really appreciate the article. I do support Ron Paul, but certainly want to make sure I’m not supporting a racist. I don’t think that’s the case here, although I’ll continue to think on it. Thanks again.

  8. Interesting read….The problem as I see it with the states governing hate laws, or acts of coercion that tend to lead to violence is this: unfortunatley, quite a few states are more corrupt than than the feds. If you have a family or a group of people that differ in some way from the general populace of a given community and members of that community begin to try to intimidate the few, the people being intimidated should have immediate recourse via state law. However if corruption is rampant at the top state levels (prosecutorial, judges, etc.) than it all to often happens that the victimized group tends to be ignored or worse, in other words their rights are null and void in that state, and if these folks have no recourse at the federal level, what then do they do to try to save their lives and properties? It is a very good question…..I am very happy you brought this up….a lot of food for debate!!!

  9. I’m in agreement with Ron Paul’s position on this one. The government should not interfere with a person’s right to conduct themselves as they see fit ON THEIR OWN PROPERTY.

    If a person’s act credibly implies, or explicitly makes a threat to someone else in public, that is when the government should protect the threatened person(s). That becomes a public act however.

    I understand Mr. Paul’s position to be one of limiting the government’s role as a protector for us against every possible offense. The reality is that the more you expect the government to protect you, the more they will rule over you. Right now the government (especially the federal government) is running rough-shod over civil liberties (rights of individuals) under the guise of “protecting” us. That places us all at the mercy of those currently managing the mechanisms of government. And, unfortunately those at the helm in government don’t always have our best interest at heart.

  10. In this case it may be a symbolic act of violence and no more. If it’s on private property they can’t do much about it if there have been no threats.

    Why haven’t they arrested all their butts at Bohemian Grove? I feel threatened by their burning of a child in effigy! VERY THREATENED.

  11. I consider burning crosses to be distasteful, but I also consider burning flags and burning people in effigy to be distasteful — and the latter is even more of a direct threat. The reason people do such things is to get a reaction, and if you make it illegal, there is a certain segment of society that will see it as a challenge to try to get away with it, or a way to generate publicity. Protests, ads, marches, and societal shunning of such idiots is the proper way to deal with them, rather than throwing them in jail and making a martyr out of them. (Property crimes are different, of course, since your right to swing your arm ends where my nose begins.)

    At least when someone burns a cross on their own property, everyone in the neighborhood knows who the moron is. Someone sneaking on to your property in the middle of the night to do so is more of a threat, precisely because there is no way to know for sure. And while protecting property rights might not have the visceral appeal of a conviction for a hate crime, protecting the public is more important than the form the protection takes — after all, Al Capone was tried and convicted for income tax evasion rather than for being a mob boss.

  12. 2. Holly,
    The two pieces connect. Ron Paul is talking about burning a piece of property. The “threats, etc” bit is talking about what the act of burning that specific piece of property symbolizes to the intended victim.
    According to his quote, he thinks property violations should be prosecuted.
    He was arguing cross burning, in and of itself, should not be.

    Sure thing, thanks!

    4. sfbguy,
    Sure thing. I don’t know how often cross burning translates into direct violence these days, but at one point the correlation was pretty high. When you get down to it, correlation isn’t really the issue. A real deliberate threat doesn’t have to be backed up by violence to be an issue. For example, the rash of Columbine threats that occured in the year after the shootings. How many of those resulted in actual violence? Yet the effect of the threat on the intended victim was quite real. I remember being one of the only kids to show up to school that day.

    5. G,
    I think the rational for making these laws federal, initially, was that some states would not prosecute them faithfully.

    The SPLC article references the same case. It is a very interesting case, actually, since it involved a burning cross at a private klan gethering that was visible from the highway. In this case it was being used more like a nazi flag at a private neonazi rally, rather than as a swastika spray painted on a synagogue. It was purely an expression of hate, rather than an act of symbolic violence. I can see both sides of the argument here, although I would agree with the dissenting opinion given the facts of the case. This cross was visible from the highway, and thus was more public than private.

    6. Holly,
    In general I agree with you in keeping some laws local.
    The question is, when a law revolves around a fundamental right, human or civil, should some localities ignore that right while others recognize it?

    7. dude,
    It is hard to speak to the spirit of his position, but that is certainly a key component. If the law is limited to the use of cross burning as a threat (as in the SCOTUS case G pointed out), then RP’s suggestion falls short. There are cases where property is not at issue, but a threat is.

    Thanks. Right now I can’t see myself supporting Ron Paul, but I’ll keep my eyes and options open. It is always good to dig and take a deeper look at all of the candidates.

    8. dw,
    Thanks,
    That is precisely the problem with opposing the civil rights act and leaving everything up to the states.

    9. Mark,
    What if I burn a cross on my own property in clear view of a black neighbor I have an ongoing disagreement with? Isn’t that a threat? It comes down to whether or not my right to conduct myself as I see fit on my own property infringes on other peoples rights.

    What if I want to parade naked in my living room with the window wide open, or on my lawn? What if I want to commit murder or torture someone in my house? Just because you are on your own property, does not give you the right to infringe on the rights of someone else.

    I agree with you that the government is currently running rough shod over civil liberties. All the more reason to fight to protect them.

    10. NH,
    Symbolic violence is hardly a “no more” kind of violence. It is an act of terrorism, intended to frighten the victim into changing their beliefs or behavior.

    11. Mike,
    There are multitude of reasons for cross burning, I’m sure. But they don’t matter so much as the effect on the victim, and people’s right to be free of such coercion and intimidation.

    You could achieve the same result by leaving the cross on public property like a street. “We’ll get them on tax evasion” isn’t the most encouraging call towards ending hate crimes.

  13. In the case of school violence, the kids have made an explicit threat that must be neutralized so that it doesn’t happen. In that case, a kid has written something, said something, or done something to signal it is real and iminent. I agree that too much gets made of some school threats, but with that much liability, schools can’t be too cautious.

    I’m not a proponent of cross burning, don’t get me wrong, I just don’t get why we need more laws, State or Federal against such an act. It doesn’t have the threatening overtones that it used to.

  14. fitnessfor the ocassion

    What if the state laws were written in a way that if say a cross were to be burned or something just as bad, in a particular community, the citizens living in proximity to the event would be interviewed by police and if the police found that a particular group or family was feeling threatened or intimidated by the event, then the police had the authority to arrest the perps for their action regardless of whose property the event took place on. There have to be enough laws left on the books in most states to find something to charge the perps with that will lead back to rest in the community and a feeling of justice being served???? Maybe this is too Utopian. I do support Dr. Paul and on the most important issues facing the country he is dead on right, however issues like this are very important too at the local levels. It seems though that these issues of hate and coercion have never really been solved to any great degree in this country, its kind sad.

  15. The Constitution gives the Federal government the power to punish exactly 3 types of crimes – treason, counterfeiting and piracy on the high seas. ALL other crimes are to be subject of state laws.
    Ron Paul is a strict Constitutionalist. He will enforce Federal laws that deal the the 3 crimes the Federal Government is ALLOWED to prosecute, otherwise he will leave states alone to prosecute such crimes as they decide upon.
    Cross burning is not, and cannot be, a Federal Crime. The Constitution does not allow it.
    For the Federal government to prohibit cross burning would require a Constitutional Amendment.

  16. 13. sfbguy,
    Actually, there was nothing to neutralize.
    The problem is, you don’t know right when you see the threat, do you?
    But the effect of the threat on its intended victims is quite real, immediately.

    There’s nothing wrong with more laws if they are good laws.
    I think cross burning definitely has a well understood threatening overtone.

    14. dw,
    It is more than a question of where Ron Paul stands on specific issues, but what those stands say about the kind of President he would be. His record on civil rights, both in speeches and in votes, leaves much to be desired.
    I find it hard to vote for or against a candidate on any one issue, but I have to say civil rights is very compelling in this regard.

  17. Fitnessfortheocassion

    Understood. I will look a little deeper into his writings regarding the civil rights issues, I may have missed some things. The man doesnt seem to be one of any type of hatred and he seems to have a good grasp of reality. I dont believe he would begin to do away with anything that is currently working because everyone knows we have more than enough programs and bureaus that are simply NOT working!!! You bring up some very good STUFF in your writings, please keep it up. The time for silence is over, this country needs to WAKE-UP now and jointly decide our future. The only way to do that IMHO is for WE THE PEOPLE to debate the issues in real and open forums. With good writers like yourself, I think the the awakening may just be underway!!

  18. Believe me, you’re much more in danger of getting blown up in an act of revolutionary violence if you piss me off with many more free speech restrictions than you are of getting attacked by some Klanman who burned a cross out in the middle of nowhere.

  19. 15. Mike,
    Why are there so many legal federal laws, if all those that fall outside of the cited are unconstitutional? Why haven’t they been succesfully challenged in court?

    Cross burning can absolutely be a federal crime.

    17. dw,
    Thanks dw. We do need to debate the issues, and I think people are waking up to a lot, even as they are being taken in by a lot in turn.

    Check out the write up at Orcinus. Ron Paul engages in a wink/nudge kind of hatred, and hence may not seem overtly racist, but his actions speak to a very different man.

  20. 18. Fluffy,
    If your free speech infringes on my rights, damn straight it is going to be restricted. The goal of a hate crime is to attack an entire community. The effects of a burning cross are not just felt by the direct victim.

    Honestly, “you’re at more risk from me” isn’t the most convincing argument for making cross burning legal.

  21. Fluffy, the speech isn’t what is being restricted. Speech is free, as always. Its the threat of violence, a use of force and coercion, which should be restricted. It doesn’t matter if this threat comes from a sign, cross burning, or the physical motion of pulling out a gun and pointing at someone. The question is, when does cross burning constitute a threat of violence?

    fitnessfortheoccasion, its because governments tend to usurp more and more power from the people, if left unchecked. If you read much on the legal history of America, you’ll notice how things once deemed unconstitutional have been later ruled to be allowed by the courts. If a politician wants to do something, its a lot easier for him to get the courts to agree to allow it than it is to amend the constitution.

    Many people forget the biggest reason the constitution was such a revolutionary document was that its prime purpose was to limit the power of government. The bill of rights was secondary, and mostly taken from English law. It was really nothing new or very revolutionary at all. The founders had personally seen how government tends to expand if left unchecked, and so they devised a system where the government could only accomplish certain goals, with seperate branches competing with each other for power (e.g. federal vs. state power, or executive vs. legislative vs. judicial), instead of operating in collusion against the people. But the constitution is only law, and it only has power so long as people pay attention to it. I’m just glad we still pay attention to the bill of rights and the amendments.

    I would however, add that the federal government can do more than enforce those three crimes. Under the necissary and proper clause, it can enforce other decisions which are necissary and proper to carry out its strictly enumerated functions (so for example, it can prosecute people who evade their taxes, or violate patent law). Unfortunately, the necissary and proper clause has since been expanded to actually add to the number of the things the federal government can try to do.

  22. A cross burning constitutes a threat of violence to you in one and only one circumstance: when it’s done on your property.

    It would be somewhat idiotic for me to burn a cross on my own yard as a threat of violence against you. You have absolutely no grounds for attempting to decode the meaning of a burning cross on MY front yard. It means what I say it means. Period.

    Leaving the semiotic issue to one side, it would also be stupid for me to burn a cross in my own yard as a threat of violence against you because there’s no way for my act to be anonymous. The Klan wears hoods and conducts its cross burnings surreptiously because the anonymity is necessary for the act to be intimidating AT ALL. If I’m burning a cross on my own front yard, how exactly do I expect to evade the police if I then walk over to your house and kill you? You’d have to be the stupidest Klansman ever to live to do that.

    In any event, the real message of a cross burning is “We don’t like black people.” And while that message is offensive, it’s also perfectly legal. No one is under any obligation to like black people, or white people, or purple people. Everyone is perfectly free to hate anyone they wish. If you can’t feel comfortable in a world where not everyone likes you, too bad. Get different emotions.

    If it’s OK to restrict the act of burning a cross even if it’s on the burner’s own property because it “conveys a message”, why wouldn’t it also be OK to lock people up if they say the words “I don’t like black people”? Or “I don’t like gay people”? Or “I think they should deport all the Mexicans”? Those statements convey a message, too – and you can just as plausibly claim that you fear that these messages will be followed up by violence. But there can be little doubt that a government which arrested people for making statements of this kind would be a tyranny, plain and simple.

  23. You know something? I thought about it some more and I wanted to come back and say,

    Why are we arguing about this issue?

    This is one of those extreme examples of civil liberties debates that interest fierce libertarians (like me) and some ACLU litigators, but not many other people. It strikes me that as little as 7 years ago, the only real civil liberty questions we faced were these cases at the margins, and the argument was between absolutists like me and people who think they’re taking a more pragmatic approach.

    That is not the situation we face in 2007.

    Like it or not, in 2007 we have one party that has actively sought to remove core civil liberty protections , and another party that for a long time was too chicken to really fight back as those civil liberties were removed. Let’s fight the neocons and Bushites FIRST, so we can protect the 4th Amendment, the 7th Amendment, the 14th Amendment, the Establishment Clause, etc. Once W and W’s wannabe imitators are dumped on the ashheap of history, we can resume arguing amongst ourselves about how absolute we want the protections of the 1st Amendment to be.

    When there are Republican candidates out there who make no bones about their love or torture, illegal searches and wiretaps, extralegal detention in concentration camps and secret prisons, etc., we have more important things to worry about then whether Ron Paul’s defense of the free speech rights of extremists is sensitive enough or not.

  24. […] Virginia University Link to Article Ron Paul, Cross Burning, and Freedom » Posted at Fitness for the Occasion on […]

  25. Fitnessfortheocassion

    As far as the wink/nudge kind of racism, I am all too aware…..I will look further, but I just dont FEEL it. I am a D.C. native and my wife is a Chas. S.C. native and in Chas. there is overt racism going both ways (unfortunatley noone there wants to let ANYTHING go and there is a lot of pride flung about) but to the wink/nodge kind, I am very familiar with that type, growing up in the D.C. “politically correct” area. The problem I have here is that Dr. Paul grew up in a Pittsburgh Pennsylvania steel town, very blue collar. It is hard to develop the kind of back-a–word logic toward other people when you are all basically on the same socio-economic level and are all fighting for survival. The kind of stupidity that is required to burn a cross in someones face is aquired very early on in life. I have very little tolerance for any such actions whether they are verbal or anything else but these actions are being rewarded in some fashion??? (Status, showing leadership of the ignorant, pride, and so on) for the perps to gain from them. If noone appreciates, much less tolerates such actions than the perps have nothing to gain by carrying them out. I just think its a bully mentality that was nurtured early in ones life that allows this person to continue to recruit other bullys to do these stupid things. It takes energy and time and some degree of expertise to do any of this stuff, and if these perps believed there was no gain in getting off of their couches to perform these acts then they wouldnt occur. For what its worth, I dont think humans learn racist traits late in life, they learn them early when they have energy and think in a pack mentality (Keeping up w/ the Joneses so to say). Where Are you blogging from? City/state just curios….thanks

  26. Freedom of speech is guaranteed by the COnstitution precisely because sometimes it is offensive.

    Sticks and stones will break your bones but words can only hurt you if you let them.

    Grow up.

  27. In a truly free society, its unlikely people would need secret societies to vent their frustration. A free society would be more prosperous. A free society would have just laws and just courts. The presumption inherent in the cross burning example is that once Dr. Paul is President and we quickly transform to an open, free and constitutionally restricted federal government, we’d still have the same filthy problems of poverty, illiteracy, cynicism, cronyism, racism, bad gov’t schools, corrupt currency and war (drug, Iraq, etc.).

    I think when Dr. Paul gives you his pure, unblinkered antidote to the ills of federal power, you have to put it up beside how America would look after 100 days of President Ron Paul. I don’t think you’d be concerned about cross-burnings once Ron Paul’s Inauguration occurs on January 20, 2009. Drug war over. Commander in Chief orders all the troops home. Immediate savings of tens of billions of dollars. Dept. of Education, Energy, Homeland security, all finished. Savings of tens of billions of dollars.

  28. Almost all the candidates up on the stage, from both parties, are calmly promising to launch an unprovoked nuclear attack on Iran, and you’re prattling on about this?

    You can’t honestly believe in creating “the sensitivity police,” can you?

    Will it still be ok to say we hate rich white Republican guys?

  29. Go Ron Paul! Go Ron Paul! God Bless Ron Paul! Ron Paul for President 2008!

    Ron Paul in CNN debate on June 5, 2007!

    “In the time of universal deceit, telling the truth
    is a revolutionary act” GEORGE ORWELL

  30. 21 G,
    Thanks for helping point that out to Fluffy.

    Interesting point on court rulings.

    Another interesting point!

    Government should have more than the 3 crimes cited,
    and the additions you add. But you are right,
    to a degree we should think of protecting against
    too much government expansion. On the other hand,
    we should protect against government going from a
    “by and for us” to a “by and for them” that we have
    to oppose in the first place.

    The government is supposed to be us.
    22. Fluffy,
    You don’t get it.
    If you burn the cross on a boat in the river, or on the street,
    or anywhere, I don’t care. It is the act itself that is a threat.
    That is the clear intention, and it is the direct result.

    You’ve got the message wrong, and the idea wrong. You are not free to threaten people. It is not about hate, it is about power and using it to hurt.

    23. Fluffy,
    I am all for fighting the neocons and Bush, and the conservatives and Bush (both groups supported him equally, no slipping out the backdoor now).

    It is always productive to argue against the idea that hate crimes are “just crimes”, or not even crimes at all. That approach ignores the effects of hate crimes entirely.

    25. dw,
    One can aquire hate, and be free of it, at any point in life. Obviously that aquired earlier sticks better in some sense, but not always (religion is an interesting example).

    Virginia.

    26. Alexia,
    Sticks and Stones? Seriously?
    Supporting a hate crime that signifies a threat of violence is a terrible thing for anyone to do. That goes far more than double for a presidential candidate.

    27. Marc,
    Dept of Education finished? Where would all this money go?
    Oh, to rich people? And they’d just invest it back into the economy?
    And schools? Oh those might be a bit unequal, but hey, free market!
    Those who can afford to move to districts with rich benefactors will do so.

    I have some other problems with Ron Pauls positions. But what I like and silike aside, I think a clear position on hate crime that recognizes the seriousness of the crime would be a good start to getting to a Ron Paul presidency. Otherwise it will be an “anyone else!” presidency.

    28. Angela,
    So this should be a one issue campaign? “Candidates, your positions on Iran. Done? Great, so is this debate”.

    We are allowed to discuss more than one issue at a time Angela.
    And hate crimes, especially given the recent hate crimes legislation, is especially apt.

    29. Chris Lawton,
    You sir, have provided no argument, and no evidence of anything other than group think. Just a lame “Yay for my candidate!”.

    Your candidate’s positions and actions will defeat him if he somehow makes it to the general. And your uncritical support will help him lose.

    If you want him to win, help him. Get him to take an ethical position on cross burning, and tackle hate groups.

    Right now he needs coaches and teammates, not cheerleaders.

  31. There might be an argument that 20th century civil rights laws and cross-burning laws were a scaffolding that held things together for safety and good goals.

    In the last half century there has been a growing wisdom in race relations. There can be improvement, however, in the 21st century such civil rights laws only get in the way. They are inherently, by necessity, race oriented, racist. The 21st century approach must be a fully color-blind government.

    Some types of communication, in context, are threats. The word “threat” is color-blind and thus has a place in 21st century law. I do not argue against making treats illegal.

    Threats and violence are tackled by law. I know this sounds corny, but it is true for the 21s century: Hate groups are best tackled by persuasion, by love, by ostricisation.

    Hate crime law is ripe to be distorted to destroy free speech. It must be eliminated immediately. I encourage people to take courage to do right.

    The 21st century needs leaders who are going in the right direction. I wouldn’t care if Ron Paul had a lisp, he would be right. I’d rather be bicycling toward home than in a sports car going over a cliff.

  32. Scott,

    There can defintiely be improvement, and we even agree on the goal of color blind government. But I just don’t see that we are there yet.

    In context, some types of communication are indeed threats. The question is, if you use a threat to target more than just an individual, are you also culpable? Another angle is whether or not you use a threat in a way you know will produce a deeper impact. For example, instead of writing “I will hurt you” on someone’s house, you write “I will torture you slowly” on the house of a known torture victim. This is the other half of hate crime legislation.

    Hate groups are best tackled by love and persuasion. Agreed. But when someone commits a hate crime, that is an act of violence, and hence the purview of the law.

    The hate crimes legislation explicitly protects freedom of speech. What takes courage is standing up to the misconception that this is in any way a free speech issue, and seeing the truth of the matter. It is about stopping violence.

    We do need leaders going in the right direction. There are more choices than back home, or over a cliff. We can move forward. On hate crimes and the civil rights act, Ron Paul is biking backwards.

  33. […] For everything else about the candidate, he’s absolutely right about war. How sad that this is would even stand out. […]

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