Thursday, September 12, 2013

The free speech scoreboard

So yesterday in Washington, D.C., there was going to be this epic clash of the civilization titans. In one corner, you had One Million Muslims, and in other, two million Murrikan bikers. The bikers would rev through D.C., their 2-to-1 ratio meant to block out the "evil" horde, to show just who really epitomizes the spirit of American patriotism. The bikers were the underdogs in this situation because, supposedly, the Muslims had gotten a permit but the bikers were DENIED. How un-American of the big government! 

At least, that's how I saw it explained on the — well, let's say niche — news sources that salivated over the prospect. 

Of course, as is so often the case with such things, it fizzled out badly. One Million Muslims? More like Two Dozen Truthers. The biker run attracted more people, though not two million, and snarled D.C. traffic, so I guess they win? 

But what did they win?

Yesterday, I read cheering over this, as if the bikers had scared off the Muslims into even showing up. I doubt seriously that's the case. But even if it was, what's to celebrate about that? Any movement with passive-aggressive hate at its core is by definition violating the spirit of American free speech. Despite the benign front put forth in the above-linked news segment, the biker rally was (as are many movements like it) ultimately a reactionary assertion of majority muscle against a minority group. For whatever else those riders stood for, they also stood for intimidation. There's nothing patriotic about that. 

The purest form of patriotism, I think, is living your life as you see fit, without hate or harm to others. What makes America great is that we don't all think, live or look alike — and it's those differences that add up to something special.

If something must win, why can't it be that idea?

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