Let's talk about Hate Speech
I don't run in circles where people spit out racist or homophobic statements. I sometimes hear sexist statements, but I am a 52-year-old white male and sometimes I'm around other, let's say, less enlightened, old white guys. (Or idiotic, young white guys.)
Most of my day passes by without any overt bigotry in my vicinity. I can't remember the last time I heard someone use the not-to-be used "n" word in a clearly racist manner. No other hate speech, either.
The closest I've come is when I walked down the street to get a look at the handful of Westboro Baptist Church freaks who came to Elizabeth Edwards funeral in December 2011. Those holding the "God Hates Fags" signs were monumentally outnumbered by hundreds of people who showed up just to stand between haters and the mourners. I barely glimpsed the hate, but it was there.
But I don't mind the hate, really. If it's there, I'd rather know about it. Shadows and dark alleys allow hate to grow unseen. Light gives us all a glimpse, allowing us to fight it or feel shame from it or just to see its awful ugliness.
When we think of people imprisoned for speech, we think Ai Weiwei in China or Pussy Riot in Russia. People are jailed for what we consider "good" speech in bad places. Yet, such things happen here in the West. In a misplaced zeal to protect minorities from hearing that people hate them, even Great Britain has placed people in jail -- jail -- for on-line comments. That's a mistake.
I say let it all go. Let Germans march against Muslims yelling "Germany is for Germans." Let crazy racists in America yell about "Mexicans" gobbling up welfare and birthing babies in 'Merica. Let's hear from communists and fascists and Obama birthers -- silence no one. Because then -- then -- we all get to know what's going on. And, either we'll fight off the hate or at least understand the dark road ahead.