Sunday, October 16, 2005

Rioters in Toledo: as bad as what they protest

Let me be succinct: Nazis suck. Neo-Nazis neo-suck. Their ideology is a pitiful last-gasp attempt to resurrect a bankrupt worldview based on nothing but hate and an attempt to manipulate others through baseless fear. That they claim to be advocating for the race I happen to be a member of changes nothing in the least. The vile crap that flows from their mouths as they seek to spread their message is less than useless to me: it's a waste of good oxygen and a boil on the butt of society's discourse.

That they be allowed to speak their minds should go without saying.

So long as they advocate their opinions without recourse to slander or libel - and I mean those in the actual sense, not the PC-speak definitions - and they break no other laws, such as incitement to riot, they are still to be accorded the same freedom of speech allowed to every other citizen of this country. So long as they hold themselves to the behavior expected of any other citizen, their rights must be protected and respected the same as anyone else. It is in this crucial task - the understanding that free speech means free speech for everyone, including those who say things you disagree with - that the citizens-turned-rioters of Toledo, Ohio failed miserably.

The National Socialist Movement (no, I'm not going to link to them) a.k.a. a bunch of neo-nazi "white supremacists" decided they were going to have a march in Toledo. Is there any doubt that they were hoping for just the reaction they got? None. So what? They were engaging in a legal exercise of their free speech rights, complete with notification to the local police force and a march permit. They appeared at the appointed time and place and began to form up. That's when the local gangs began to show up and confront them. The police, doing what they're supposed to do, attempted to keep the gangs away from the legally formed marchers, all 2 dozen of them. So the local gangs showed their local pride by attacking the police. When the riots started, the neo-nazis called off their march. No kidding. It had done the job they wanted and the locals played right into their hands.

The police were pelted with rocks and the rioters, in an act I can only call criminally idiotic, set fire to a local pub with the 86-year-old proprietor and his nephew inside. That business and those 2 men had nothing whatsoever to do with the day's events but the local populace attacked them anyway. In short, they acted exactly like the lawless, savage bunch the neo-nazis were saying they were. Nice move. Real smooth.

But here's the part that just boils my blood. No one's angry at the people who lept to the fore to violate the civil rights of another citizen. There are no soundbites or reported comments denouncing the people who threw rocks at police officers or torched the business and residence of a fellow Toledo man. Here's what they're saying:

::::::::"This never should have happened," 80-year-old Ed Kusina, who has lived in the neighborhood nearly all his life, said Sunday. "They should have never let them march here."


Keith White criticized city officials for allowing the march: "They let them come here and expect this not to happen?" said White, 29.

Oh, really, Mr. Kusina? They should have never let "them" march here? So you're OK with the government censoring people based on their policital positions? You're OK with the government denying access to certain groups to public spaces and denying them the right to assemble peacably and speak their minds? I can just imagine the howls of anger had the government applied that action to the "Million Man Redux" event we just had here this very weekend.

And you, Mr. White. What exactly was the police supposed to be expecting when this disliked but perfectly legal group arrived to exercise their civil rights? You say, "They let them come here and expect this not to happen?" Yes. Damn right they expected this not to happen. They expected people to abide by the law. They expected people to offer the same respect for another's rights that those people have demanded from everyone else. The only thing you've proven here today, Mr. White, is that you can't handle it. When it's your rights that are being slighted you want heads on platters but when it's someone else's rights, someone you happen to disapprove of, well that's a whole different ballgame. The government should simply toss them out or everyone should just expect you and yours to get violent.

Well, it doesn't work like that in America, sir, and you should be damned thankful it doesn't. If you can't comport yourself with the same respect for the law that you demand in others when dealing with you, then perhaps you should reconsider your citizenship in a country where every citizen's rights are equally important.