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It’s time for hate groups to be illegal

REUTERS/Kevork Djansezian
While hundreds mourn Roof’s victims, some Klan chapters are hailing him as a hero.

I am deeply angered that Dylan Roof’s shooting rampage in Charleston has not caused an outcry against hate groups. Dylan Roof is a white supremacist who was heavily influenced by hate group ideologies and rhetoric, but instead of cracking down on hate groups, politicians, commentators, and even movie studios and retailers have attacked a soft target instead: the Confederate flag, a controversial symbol only remotely involved in Roof’s vile act due to how he posed for a photo with a Confederate flag in one hand and his automatic pistol in the other. The time and effort being spent to suppress this controversial symbol is diverting attention and debate away from hate groups, whose very existence in this country is 10 times more vile than all the various incarnations of the Confederate flag put together.

Hate groups are a clear and present danger

Richard Held

“I have to do it. You rape our women and you’re taking over our country. And you have to go,” Roof said during his shooting rampage. His racist hate speak stemmed from his study of The Northwest Front, a hate group known for participating in the murder of five anti-Ku Klux Klan demonstrators in Greensboro, North Carolina, in 1979. The hate speak espoused by the Northwest Front led Roof to study the rhetoric of other hate groups, which reinforced his own racist views to the point he decided to act upon the hate-filled manifestos he read (and also wrote for his own website).

But while hundreds mourn Roof’s victims, some Klan chapters are hailing him as a hero.  One chapter greets callers with a prerecorded message which says in part: “We in the Loyal White Knights of the KKK would like to say hail victory to Dylan S. Roof who decided to do what the Bible told him. An eye for an eye. A tooth for a tooth. They [African-Americans] have spilled our blood too long. It’s about time someone spilled theirs.”

Robert Jones, the head of the KKK’s Royal White Knights, boldly told The Daily Beast that he supported Roof’s actions, but that he “shot the wrong people” (according to Jones, Roof should have shot African-American drug dealers instead). Opinions like Jones’ only stoke the fires of racial hatred, and holding up Roof as an example for other racist fanatics to follow is dangerous. For all we know, at this very moment another racist is checking his weapons and seeking a place to commit the mass murder of African-Americans, his heart beating with a fierce desire to emulate Roof’s actions. Hate groups are a clear and present danger for us all because they are a beacon for fanatics.

First Amendment wasn’t meant to shield hate

“Freedom of speech” is a valuable thing in a democracy, but it should not be used as an excuse to shield hate-filled rhetoric such as “if it ain’t white, it ain’t right.” America is supposed to be a land of the free, not a dystopian world where hate can flourish under the protection of the law.  We had enough of that in this country during the grim days of slavery and segregation. The First Amendment was not meant to be a shield for hate; it was meant to provide a voice for freedom. 

If America wants to avenge the Charleston massacre, we must not only convict Roof and sentence him to death, we also must ban hate groups like the KKK, the Neo-Nazis, and The Northwest Front for good. Their hate-filled teachings and opinions are helping fuel racial violence in this country far more than any display of the Confederate flag could.

Richard Held is a freelance writer and editor.  He resides in the Twin Cities.

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Comments (98)

  1. Submitted by Roy Johansen on 07/06/2015 - 09:22 am.

    The supreme Court have a chance a few years back to at least start shutting down these hate groups when they sided with Phelps and WBC saying tbeir demonstrations of pure hate are protected under the 1st Amendment. Now we have even more groups and individuals spouting their hate be it anti-black, anti-immigrant, anti-gay, anti-atheist, etc.

    • Submitted by Joe Smithers on 07/06/2015 - 11:32 am.


      There’s an anti-atheist group? I wasn’t aware there were people out there with such hatred towards atheists.

      • Submitted by Dennis Tester on 07/06/2015 - 01:09 pm.


        When I was in Navy boot camp during the LBJ years, people were required, yes REQUIRED to attend church services on Sunday morning. They checked off names from a clipboard when you entered one of the religious service tents. And if you slept in, they’d come looking for you. Seriously!

        I was not a church-goer and believe me, I did not appreciate it.

        Can you imagine the charges of religious bigotry if that had occurred under a republican president? Not that it would have since republicans believe in giving people a choice.

        Maybe LBJ was an anti-atheist.

        • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/06/2015 - 05:09 pm.

          Compulsory Chapel

          Weekly attendance at “approved” religious services was required of cadets and midshipmen at the service academies until 1972. The practice was ended only after a court order.

          If I’m not mistaken, a fellow named Nixon was President in 1972, and had been President for the preceding three years. If memory serves, he was a Republican.

        • Submitted by Edward Blaise on 07/10/2015 - 08:32 am.


          On a similar note, my dog got run over when Kennedy was President. I guess JFK was anti dog.

    • Submitted by Kurt Nelson on 07/06/2015 - 06:02 pm.

      What people

      forget, or more likely never new about Snyder v. Phelps, was that while that family is filled with bile, they were completely lawful in that protest. They applied for and received a permit from the city, they did not exceed noise levels, and most importantly, they were 750 ft away from the burial. The father of the fallen soldier did not know what had happened until he saw it on the news that night.
      The Court was absolutely correct in that decision.

    • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/07/2015 - 01:11 pm.

      The Court Should Take Another Look

      The Supreme Court ought to take another look at hate groups after Dylan Roof got fired up by their rhetoric to the point he armed himself and committed murder. Hate groups cannot consider themselves immune from consequences any more.

  2. Submitted by Tim Walker on 07/06/2015 - 10:20 am.

    Sentence him to death?Yeah,

    Sentence him to death?

    Yeah, let’s show a little more state-sanctioned violence!

    That will surly reduce the level of violence in this country, no doubt!

    Anyway, I have mixed feelings about Mr. Held’s solution, and yes, they are based on a slippery slope argument, i.e., I don’t want a government entity deciding what is and what isn’t hate speech.

    A better solution is forceful counter speech, and a zero tolerance to bigotry in the community, including the bigots’ employers.

    And aggressive investigations and eventual prosecutions into the series of arson attacks at black churches. The feds need to do this, because of the racist leanings of many local law agencies in the south, and they need to be relentless in weeding out the racist cops as they did in Ferguson, Mo.

    • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/06/2015 - 03:24 pm.

      Would you rather have Dylan Roof get off scott-free?

      “State-sanctioned violence” is neither here nor there re: Dylan Roof’s fate. Would you rather he get off scott-free for his crime? The man is guilty as sin and deserves to suffer the maximum consequences for his actions.

      Forceful counter speech may have worked in the past, but we need more than that now, which is why I believe criminalizing hate groups to be a sound idea. Why not deny racist crazies a base to rally on and shove them even farther into the fringes of society? We will always have bigots, that’s the nature of the human race, but if Germany can outlaw hate groups, why can’t America?

      • Submitted by Pat Berg on 07/06/2015 - 04:51 pm.

        Um – there is another choice . . . . .

        It’s not just “The Death Penalty” v.s. “Getting Off Scott-Free”.

        I suspect you may have heard of “Life in prison without parole” . . . . . . . .

      • Submitted by Kurt Nelson on 07/06/2015 - 09:58 pm.

        I Don’t recall

        has there been a trial yet? That’s the crazy thing about our judicial system, there has to be a trial to determine guilt, not just your own feelings to that end. Something about Due Process or some such thing.

        • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/07/2015 - 01:13 pm.

          He Will Not Be On Trial For Months

          Even though Roof is clearly guilty, our ponderous legal system has ensured he will not go on trial for months–and if he gets the right lawyers the wait could be for years. Just look at how long it took to put James Egan Holmes on trial.

  3. Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/06/2015 - 10:52 am.


    I have to disagree with Mr. Held’s argument.

    While I sympathize with what he says, and while I share his anger at the many hate groups that flourish, banning their speech is the wrong solution.

    Banning hate speech opens a can of worms we should not go down. One person’s hate is another person’s voice for freedom. Who gets to decide? Prosecute the violent, sure, but how much further do we go? The Klan has a history, but what about other groups that espouse the same ideology? The Council of Conservative Citizens, the Klan’s cleaned up twin? American Renaissance, Klan-level racism with a pseudo-scholarly gloss (a starched collar, to hide a red neck)? The New Black Panther Party? Earth Liberation Front? Jack Chick Publications?

    There should be no one charged with deciding what private citizens may say to each other. Official censors who get to decide what speech is acceptable are an authoritarian (perhaps even a totalitarian) solution. The only good answer to hate speech is remembering that we all have the right to respond.

    • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/06/2015 - 12:46 pm.

      They Still Have To Go

      I thought my article might get such a reaction, but I still say hate groups have to go. What is the worse “can of worms,” a kerfuffle over the First Amendment or racist killers acting on the hate speak they read? I’d say the latter.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/06/2015 - 01:21 pm.

        More than a Kerfuffle

        Do you really want someone else deciding if a group meets the criteria for a “non-hate” group.

        Put another way, would you want, say, Donald Trump or Ted Cruz making that decision?

        • Submitted by jason myron on 07/06/2015 - 01:45 pm.


          Such a slippery slope doesn’t even warrant discussion. Yes, some of these groups are vile and I personally despise everything they stand for, but they have a right to exist. Ignorant racists that want to congregate are a dime a dozen, but a politician deciding which groups can or can’t exist is infinitely more terrifying.

          • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/06/2015 - 03:21 pm.

            Stopping hate groups would deny hate an officially-sanctioned,,,

            We cannot legislate hate away, but we can deny it an officially-sanctioned base by making hate groups illegal. With the likes of the KKK gone, racists would have nowhere to run and would therefore be shoved further to the fringes of society.

            • Submitted by Pat Berg on 07/06/2015 - 04:53 pm.

              The problem is . . .

              What is the definition of “hate group” and who gets to decide.

              That’s where things get dicey.

              • Submitted by Robert Owen on 07/08/2015 - 01:48 pm.

                And what’s the definition of “hate”? I think Martians should be killed? I don’t want my daughter dating a German? There’s a huge gap between hate and love and everyone has a different opinion of what defines “hate.”

            • Submitted by Kurt Nelson on 07/06/2015 - 05:51 pm.


              would you suggest as a punishment for these groups? Jail time, fines, what.
              That they are offensive is not a legal justification for punishment – you realize that right.

              • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/07/2015 - 01:33 pm.

                Denied the right to exist

                A law should be passed banning their existence, just like in Germany. The KKK and other groups would thus be finally put out of business. Sure racists would still be able to rant on the internet, but a stronger anti-racism measure than banning a flag would have been accomplished.

                I still say hate speak poses a danger since it is inspiring others to kill too. (And let us not forget the hundreds of murders the KKK and other groups have committed in this country, including violent crimes done by sympathizers like Dylan Roof.)

        • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/06/2015 - 03:29 pm.

          Who cares about Trump and Cruz…

          Who cares about Trump and Cruz. We are talking about a matter that would ultimately go before the Supreme Court of the United States here. I am sure Dylan Roof’s actions would convince the majority of SCOTUS that hate speak now poses a “clear and present danger” to America. Would Roof have killed if he had not subscribed to the rhetoric of hate groups? Maybe, but also, maybe not.

          • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/06/2015 - 04:03 pm.

            Who Cares?

            It matters a great deal who decides what group is a “hate group.” That person is the one ultimately responsible for bringing a case in the courts.

            Incidentally, the “clear and present danger” test has been largely abandoned. The courts now look at whether speech is directed towards bringing about “imminent” violent action, and whether it is likely to produce such action. Advocating lawless action as a general proposition is protected speech.

            • Submitted by Richard Held on 08/27/2015 - 01:01 pm.

              I Don’t Care…

              I don’t care if the “clear and present danger” test has been set aside. Lowering a flag is a very weak response to racism, especially if hatespeak associated with it is sparking violence in this country. Dylan Roof is not going to be the last racist killer inspired by hatespeak, people.

      • Submitted by joe smith on 07/06/2015 - 01:30 pm.

        I bet the minute we ban “hate groups” there will be no more racists killing innocent people. I am pretty sure murder is banned in Chicago (along with the strictest gun control laws in USA) and I believe 9 poor souls were shot to death over the 4th of July. We don’t need more laws we need more folks accountable for their actions.
        If we are banning hate groups let’s start with those flag stomping, America hating nut jobs I am seeing more and more of!

  4. Submitted by Dennis Tester on 07/06/2015 - 01:31 pm.

    The Southern Poverty Law Center

    According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the self-appointed arbiter of who qualifies as a hate group, there are 784 active hate groups in the United States. Apart from the groups of black extremists who preach racial separation and reparation, none of the alleged hate groups are on the left of the political spectrum. Isn’t that amazing?

    Among their most feared hate groups, of course, is the “patriot movement,” who espouse such hateful things as a smaller, constitutional government, tighter borders, and lower taxes that apparently have led to the death and destruction of many innocents.

    Now, I don’t take the SPLC and their squirrelly leadership seriously, but the point is, who gets to decide what constitutes hate, Mr. Held? You? The SPLC? The ACLU? The republican-controlled congress? Be careful what you wish for.

    • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/07/2015 - 08:18 pm.

      All I wish for…

      All I wish for is America to get its act together, and banning the Confederate flag alone just won’t cut it in Charleston’s aftermath. It is time to shut down the KKK and its ilk.

  5. Submitted by Kevin Vick on 07/06/2015 - 01:33 pm.

    Hating on Hate Groups

    You can’t legislate hate away. Richard, Isn’t hating on a hate group, by definition, defining yourself as a hate group? The very presence of the 1st amendment is to recognize, as an endowed right, the freedom of speech and expression. We have imposed limits such as not being able to scream fire in a crowded theater. However, there is no right not to be offended as many lately seem to think there is. Am I offended by so called “hate groups”, you bet. I’m also offended when someone tries to suppress the civil rights of all of us. That doesn’t give me the right to suppress their speech.

    I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it. Even you Richard.

    • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/06/2015 - 03:34 pm.

      I used to believe…

      I used to believe hate groups were the price we had to pay for free speech in America. Dylan Roof has made me realize that such a price is now too steep.

      I say again, if Germany can ban hate groups, why can’t America? I insist that the First Amendment is about freedom, not hate.

      • Submitted by Kurt Nelson on 07/06/2015 - 05:56 pm.

        It is

        about hate if the person wants to hate.
        The First is what is called a negative right. The Amendment does not say we have a right to fee speech, but, that Congress shall make no law infringing on our ability to speak freely (or worship, or assemble). If all you want is rainbows and unicorns, you might be in for more disappointment. Unless of course you also want to police thoughts (which it appears you do), and that is a hill you can’t climb.

        • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/07/2015 - 08:16 pm.

          We can’t police thoughts…

          We can’t police thoughts, but we can clamp down on groups like the KKK–whose members and supporters committed hundreds of murders since the KKK’s original formation in 1866 and its subsequent revivals–whose members and ideals pose a danger to this country, especially since they inspire others to kill more than any video game or movie scene could.

    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 07/08/2015 - 12:20 pm.


      While it’s true that you can’t legislate away hate, what you can do is set limits to incendiary language. Like yelling fire in a theater, people then know there are certain lines you do not cross.

      This goes beyond simply being offended at someone’s position on an issue. If that were the case we wouldn’t even be having this discussion in the first place. What we’re looking at instead are people who are encouraging others to go out and commit mass murder, not to mention the numerous black churches that have recently been burned across the south.

      Society has a vested interest in protecting its members. Destroying buildings and killing people rips away at the fabric that binds us together–each fire and each killing makes us less of a cohesive people and builds more of an us vs them mentality, which is what groups like the KKK are shooting for. At what point do we tell them that this behavior is not acceptable and they can’t do it anymore?

  6. Submitted by James Hamilton on 07/06/2015 - 02:51 pm.

    The Confederate flag is more

    of a distraction than a substantive response to hate groups. However, I’ll be darned if I’ll support banning “hate speech”. Even if I agreed with the concept, there’s no one I’d trust to define it and police it.

    If Mr. Held and others want to combat hate groups, have at it. You can’t suppress hatred. You can fight ignorance. The Southern Poverty Law Center and others (e.g., Montana Human Rights Network) have been doing so for decades and can use all the help (time and money) you can provide.

    • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/06/2015 - 03:38 pm.

      Yes, we cannot suppress hatred, but…

      Yes, we cannot suppress hatred, but we can no longer tolerate the presence of hate groups like the KKK (whose members committed hundreds of murders and other crimes and got off scott-free) and others in this nation any more. A fanatic getting stoked up on hate speak to the point he armed himself and committed mass murder proves that tolerating hate groups is too steep a price to pay for free speech in America.

      • Submitted by jason myron on 07/06/2015 - 06:15 pm.

        Richard, you’re essentially throwing in the towel

        on the American Experiment by advocating for the removal of the First Amendment. People have the right to assemble and speak freely whether we happen to like their ideas or not.

        • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/07/2015 - 01:09 pm.

          That right does not apply…

          That right does not apply when the hate speak hate groups spew inspires acts of violence.

          • Submitted by jason myron on 07/07/2015 - 07:04 pm.

            Well, no…

            actually it DOES apply. So by virtue of your logic, should the Beatles have been banned for inspiring Charles Manson to attempt to start a race war in 1969? Should a video game manufacturer be held responsible for some kid going off the rails from playing Grand Theft Auto too much? A movie studio be held responsible for a copycat killing taken from a scene in a film?
            What you’re advocating is totalitarianism and it has no place in the United States…period.

            • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/07/2015 - 08:13 pm.

              Smoke and mirrors logic

              Your latest counterpoint resorted to smoke and mirrors. My focus was hate groups, not music or Hollywood. Hate speak will always exist in one shape or form in this country, but it is absurd for us to go after flags while letting hate groups flourish. Allow either both to exist or banish both, or keep the least harmful of the two.

              • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/08/2015 - 09:28 am.

                Smoke and Mirrors

                Sorry, but I think his point is a valid one.

                If you’re going after hate groups because they necessarily inspire violence, isn’t there a certain logic in going after individuals who spread messages of hate? Why make a distinction between, say, the Aryan Nations and the author of the Turner Diaries (the inspiration for Tim McVeigh)? Taking the logic still further, if someone is inspired to kill by a song–whether gangsta rap, or a beloved rock classic–should they not be shut down as well?

              • Submitted by jason myron on 07/08/2015 - 12:03 pm.

                You have the logic part right.

                You stated that 1st amendment protection doesn’t apply if an individual is “inspired” to commit an act of violence by a particular groups rhetoric. In your zeal to trample the 1st amendment, you’re also giving the fifth and fourteenth amendments a beating as well. Music art and film inspiration is as valid as any “hate group,” so I’m curious as to how your going to separate the two when it comes time level charges, much less prosecute. I guarantee that the victims aren’t going to care much for nuance at that point.

                • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/09/2015 - 10:13 am.

                  I don’t support censorship of art, but…

                  I don’t support censorship of art, but I also do not support terrorists–and groups like the KKK have proven themselves time and time again to be domestic terrorist groups.

                  Sure Timothy McVeigh got inspiration from “The Turner Diaries,” but he was also angry at the government because of the siege of Waco, so his fuse was ultimately lit by a current event. Can we say the same thing about Dylan Roof? So far, no.

                  • Submitted by jason myron on 07/09/2015 - 01:28 pm.

                    So far?

                    Gee…because the guy is entitled to due process from our “ponderous” legal system…and thank god for that. Once again, you can’t have it both ways. You ether support censorship ot you don’t. Every post you’ve made tells us that you want the government to censor thought and expression. That’s untenable in a free society.

                    • Submitted by Todd Hintz on 07/09/2015 - 06:17 pm.

                      Grease Pencil, Please

                      I have to disagree with your assessment, which seems to be a black or white take on the issue. Correct me if I get your position wrong, but it looks like you’re saying someone is either for censorship or against it and there’s no middle ground between the two ends.

                      My take: it isn’t an issue of whether or not there is a line as one exists already. Hence yelling fire in a theater or publishing slanderous material. So then the debate becomes where we draw the line and how much freedom do we want to allow people? Is it OK to encourage people to murder others? Or just maim them? Or just burn their property? Or is it not OK to encourage any sort of violence against others and their property?

                      Again, at what point in the process is it in society’s interest to encourage people to be civil towards one another instead of creating an us vs them mentality?

                    • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/09/2015 - 09:24 pm.

                      Forget the Grease Pencil

                      Throwing “censorship” into this discussion is more smoke and mirrors if you ask me. We can do nothing about hate speech floating around on the internet, but it seems to me that if the Confederate flag is going out of style, hate groups that are fond of waving it should go too. I stand by my opinion that hate groups are more a fount of racist violence than any display of the Confederate flag could.

                    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/10/2015 - 09:03 am.


                      Actually, I think you are advocating censorship.

                      The reason you give for outlawing hate groups is that they incite violence through what anyone with any sense would call hate speech. Unless you are going to outlaw any group that has unacceptable beliefs, you are deciding what groups may or may not exist solely on the basis of what they say.

                      That, sir, is censorship.

                    • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/12/2015 - 10:01 am.

                      These groups…

                      …are also anachronisms clinging to outdated ideologies. If the Confederate flag is going away then they should too if we want to take a genuine anti-racist step forward after Dylan Roof’s hideous act.

                    • Submitted by jason myron on 07/12/2015 - 03:03 pm.


                      the confederate flag does not have constitutional rights. You continue to bring up the flag, but it’s not germane to the discussion. The controversy surrounding the flag is that it was flown on government property. Frankly, I couldn’t care less if some guy down the street hoists one above his house. Once again, what you’re proposing is flat out censorship and totalitarianism. People have a constitutional right to hold bad thoughts. Exactly how do you propose to stop people from forming groups that you don’t happen to like?

                    • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/12/2015 - 04:47 pm.

                      By a law…

                      …that states “No group or organization shall be formed based upon the principles of racism and prejudice.” Nuff said.

                    • Submitted by jason myron on 07/13/2015 - 07:43 pm.

                      “Nuff said?”

                      Seriously? Who exactly determines what is racism and prejudice and …for the umpteenth time, do you just propose to eliminate the first amendment all together?

  7. Submitted by chuck holtman on 07/06/2015 - 04:07 pm.

    There’s a deeper problem with your proposal.

    Yes, the legally sanctioned authority for those in power to decide what is “hate” speech that may be censored is deeply problematic for what you propose.

    But more fundamental is the fact that encouraging irrational fear and hatred of defined groups of people – defined by race, religion, ethnicity, geography, beverage choice or any other convenient separation of us and them – is and always has been the currency of political power, the grifter’s manna, and the tried-and-true means of distracting the population from the real causes of their real grievances. It has been the central electoral strategy of one of our major parties for going toward 50 years now. The obvious hate-purveyors that you cite can be lopped off but the subtle encouragements toward hate and fear coming from all throughout our society’s discourse will continue to have their effect.

    The only route away from our seething morass of hate is to establish as our society’s first priority provision of basic goods for all and an education system that create citizens who can think critically and morally and, accordingly, on whom the propaganda of hate and fear – obvious and subtle alike – can make no claim.

  8. Submitted by Russell Booth on 07/06/2015 - 04:15 pm.

    I never knew that Larry Flint was a great American hero until I saw the movie “The People Versus Larry Flint”. How can a smut peddler be an American hero? (Spoiler Alert:) Because we the people value freedom. The Supreme Court has affirmed it.

    Dylann Roof was not a member of a hate group. He did see what other people had written online and acted upon some very foul ideas as an individual. Are we going to shut down the Internet when banning hate groups fails to achieve Mr. Held’s objective?

    It is actually ideas that would be suppressed. A scary…idea.

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/06/2015 - 04:45 pm.

      Larry Flint

      There was a joke circulating in the mid-70s that Communists were paying Larry Flint to give the First Amendment a bad name.

  9. Submitted by Steve Sundberg on 07/06/2015 - 04:21 pm.

    At what point …

    … does the GOP get outlawed as a “hate group” because some among them spew hate?

    Or, whichever political party is out of favor at one time or another?

    This is a slippery slope I’d rather not travel.

    • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/09/2015 - 12:52 pm.

      We Are Already On A Slippery Slope…

      Re: free speech, we are already on a slippery slope. Corporations discourage their employees from speaking badly about the company even if there are genuine issues that need to be brought to light.

      • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 07/09/2015 - 02:16 pm.

        “Discouraging” is not “Outlawing”

        Corporations are not the government. They only act like it.

        There are also laws in place to protect whistle-blowing employees.

        • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/09/2015 - 05:31 pm.

          Oh really? Then how do you explain employees having to speak anonymously to the media for fear of being fired, or how the United Food and Commercial Workers Union criticizes members who spend their money at non-union stores? That sounds like borderline outlawing to me.

          • Submitted by jason myron on 07/09/2015 - 10:47 pm.

            He just did explain it, Richard.

            “Corporations are not Government.” As long as a person is employed at the discretion of a company they certainly aren’t immune from the consequences of their words no matter how truthful they may be.

          • Submitted by Kurt Nelson on 07/11/2015 - 08:42 am.


            really ought to brush up on your understanding of the 1st A. Only the government can infringe on an individuals right to speech (or assembly, establishment, expression).

            Private universities for instance are not required to adhere to the 1st, and can quell speech all quite legally (and many do, especially the religious ones).

            Businesses have contracts with employees which can limit what a person can say, and if that person runs afoul, they can be fired – but the government has nothing to do with this. If that employee then sues for unlawful termination – well then that is another thing altogether.
            Again, you might want to rethink your desire to suppress speech just because you find it offensive – cause the Constitution protects that speech, and always will thankfully.

  10. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 07/07/2015 - 07:11 am.

    But who decides; where next… banning speech as hate?

    I hate to say it or to respond to “hate group” as a ‘given’… however, if hate is the deciding factor to regulate speech, who decides and who bans speech; who qualifies to be hating hate groups by banning which one could say, pretty much bans the hate group that hates hate?

    Drive hate groups, speech underground will only breed more hate I suppose?

    Hate or hating hate? You could say in the beginning was the word, the word was with deception and deception was the word..or whatever?.. you may think otherwise . yes sir.

  11. Submitted by Dennis Wagner on 07/07/2015 - 09:42 pm.


    Hate comes from ignorance:
    Agreed: Hate groups are a clear and present ignorance.
    Answer: Work to wipe out ignorance.
    Ignorance diminishes, hate diminishes.
    Problem: Some folks find comfort in ignorance.

  12. Submitted by James Rickton on 07/08/2015 - 07:02 am.


    Pretty sure the author is just trolling people here. I haven’t seen any substantive argument, just “throw out the first amendment because “hate groups” are bad.”

    If it were me, I would stop feeding it.

    • Submitted by Pat Berg on 07/08/2015 - 08:50 am.

      I think he is sincere

      He has posted this sort of thing elsewhere, as well:

      I think he is sincerely distressed over the idea that an impressionable young man was misled enough by the ideas put forth by these extremist organizations that nine people attending a church bible study are now dead.

      I also don’t think he has really thought his ideas through, and in the depths of his anguish, I’m not sure he wants to – at least not yet. So what appears to be trolling is more, I believe, someone who just wants to hang onto what seems to be the most accessible idea to try and keep more of these deaths from happening.

      I do think we’ve probably exhausted the arguments – at least for those who are thinking logically and rationally about the complexities of the issue.

      But I wouldn’t go so far as to characterize the author’s actions as “trolling”.

      • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/08/2015 - 09:15 am.

        You Don’t Need…

        You don’t need to speculate about my motives. I’m right here.
        The reason I wrote this commentary and the LinkedIn one is simple: I am sick and tired of people assuming that banning a flag will do something constructive in the wake of this tragedy. I stand by my argument that hate groups are a far worse thing to have in this country than all the incarnations of the Confederate flag put together. Banning a flag will solve nothing, but banning hate groups would be a genuine step forward because it is high time to stop giving hate a home under the American flag.

      • Submitted by James Rickton on 07/09/2015 - 08:07 am.

        I see now

        Perhaps you are right. I retract my previous statement.

    • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/08/2015 - 09:19 am.

      I am engaging in debate

      Now that my commentary is posted, I am engaging in the debate taking place beneath it. An author reserves that right, especially if he/she writes about current events.

      • Submitted by jason myron on 07/08/2015 - 03:26 pm.


        so it’s okay for you to reserve right in the interests of maintaining a debate, but groups that think differently from you don’t ? So for the sake of furthering the debate, let’s say I’m in total agreement with you…so much so that I become angry with these groups…in fact, enraged. I decide to take out that anger by committing an act of violence on one or more members of one of these organizations. By your logic, doesn’t that elevate your dialogue to the level of hate speech? And at that point, you and any other like minded individuals could be labeled as a hate group and forced to cease, yes? You’ve inspired me and possibly others to commit violence against a certain group of people, no matter how repugnant they might be, but at the end of the day, what’s the difference?

        • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/09/2015 - 12:46 pm.

          If A Flag Has To Go Away…

          I do not agree with your argument. I am arguing that hate groups go against what America stands for: freedom and equality. The “negative right” of free speech cannot cut it anymore with hate groups. This isn’t the 1960s, my friends, where the KKK was the de facto ruler of the South. If the Confederate flag has to go away, then the groups that espouse hate and support killers like Dylan Roof should go too. Wasting time on what has been used as a racist symbol but not digger any deeper than that is not what we need.

  13. Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/08/2015 - 08:55 am.

    Ending speech won’t end hate, or violence

    The problem isn’t speech per se, unless you think we can criminalize people who hate things getting together talking to each other. Typically this kind of violence emerges from people who belong to groups the vast majority of us have never heard of, it’s not like these are “speaking” to a broad and large audience. Even the KKK while notorious, doesn’t have a huge following.

    We already have hate crime laws; speech can be met with counter-speech and persuasion, not persecution. In some ways we might actually want these groups speaking out, it makes it easier to track them. Banning them will just drive them under ground, it won’t end their existence.

    • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/08/2015 - 09:18 am.

      Yes, they would go underground if they are banned–but they still would be vulnerable to prosecution if discovered, especially if one of their members went on a killing spree.

      I reiterate, the price of free speech–tolerating hate speak and hate groups–has become too steep a price for America to pay now that Dylan Roof has done his vile deed.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/08/2015 - 01:18 pm.

        Yes but…

        People are subject to prosecution NOW if they go on a killing spree. The question is whether or not your suggestion would PREVENT such killing sprees? Evidence from much more tightly controlled societies is that killing sprees happen despite censorship and prosecution for prohibited speech. The killing spree isn’t simply a function of hate speech, there are a whole host of other factors involved.

        You seem to be assuming that a person like Roof emerges from hate groups Ipso Facto. It’s much more complex than that. Meanwhile, we have to weigh the “price” we pay for tolerance against the price we pay for intolerance. I don’t think excessive tolerance is our problem. Racism, ignorance, mental illness, gun culture, violence, and intolerance all come to mind before I feel like accusing anyone of being too tolerant.

  14. Submitted by Richard Held on 07/09/2015 - 10:01 am.

    Yes, there are many factors here, but…

    I am not assuming banning hate groups alone would stop hate crimes. You are correct that racism, ignorance, mental illness, gun culture, etc.are things that should be addressed too. But couldn’t it be said that Dylan Roof was also a domestic terrorist? And if the KKK supports his actions, doesn’t that affirm that they are a domestic terrorist organization? (Remember: the KKK is responsible for hundreds of murders committed by its members and sympathizers.) We don’t support terrorism, but we allow domestic terror groups to exist at home thanks to the First Amendment being “a negative right”? I just don’t understand America sometimes.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/09/2015 - 05:34 pm.


      I have no problem identifying domestic terrorists, but terrorism isn’t hatred, it’s an act of violence. A lot of people hate stuff but never terrorize anyone or attack anyone, not all hate groups are terror groups. Is the Catholic Church, when it supports discrimination against the LBGT committing domestic terrrism? We try to distinguish between thoughts and feelings, and actions. The FBI has been fighting domestic terrorist for decades, I think the KKK is actually on the list.

      What you’re saying is that we should be arresting and/or charging people who never commit an act of violence with a crime. I assume your justification is that if we arrested haters, we’ll prevent violence. The problem is you haven’t actually made the case that criminalizing hatred will prevent enough violence to justify the over-all loss of civil liberty. Like it or not, people have a right to hate stuff they want to or decide to hate. We’d be locking a lot of people up.

  15. Submitted by Richard Held on 07/09/2015 - 09:24 pm.

    Flag Is Coming Down…

    The Confederate flag is coming down at the South Carolina statehouse:

    Soon the Confederate flag debate will end, but mark my words: Roof’s act will inspire others just like David Koresh’s did Timothy McVeigh’s because lowering this flag will do absolutely nothing constructive in the wake of the Charleston tragedy.

    • Submitted by Richard Held on 09/23/2015 - 01:43 am.

      Lowered Flags And Moral Cowards

      By now the South Carolina statehouse Confederate flag has come down along with several others, state police had to keep the KKK and New Black Panthers from clashing during a pro-Confederate flag rally at the same locale, repeats of “The Dukes of Hazard” are off the air due to the General Lee sporting the Confederate flag on its roof, merchandise featuring the Confederate flag has been pulled off of shelves along with replicas of the flag itself, hundreds of politicians and pundits have commented on the issue… and that is that. In my opinion just lowering the Confederate flag and doing nothing further smacks of moral cowardice – as do the bulk of the comments my article received here when it was first published. Okay then, go stick your heads in the sands until, say, a Black Lives Matter rally is torn up by a hail of bullets fired by a racist who A. thinks Dylan Roof is a hero and B. is all fired up by hate speak espoused by the KKK and its ilk. I won’t comment on that one, though, because I no longer wish to try to get through the moral cowards who run this country and like to harass people like me who seek concrete, decisive solutions to issues like hate groups and the way their rhetoric helps fuel racial violence.

  16. Submitted by beryl john-knudson on 07/09/2015 - 07:12 pm.

    It is no small act to deny the right to speak, however offensive

    If hate speech is made illegal, then words, hate speech as defined by maybe, assigned hate deputies who become watchdogs; policing (most well intentioned one can only assume?), in order to create a hate free society by those who hate hate?

    If then words qualified as hate by hate watchdogs are found and identified as bound in a book, would they make those books full of ‘hate words’, illegal?

    One can only imagine a second footprint here…bound words in books; books that may be so identified by those who hate hate speech, what will be coming down the pike next…book burning…just wondering?

    • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/09/2015 - 09:21 pm.

      Hate groups should be illegal, but hate speech…

      My argument is that hate groups which spew hate speech and support violence against others should be made illegal due to how they pose a threat to us all. We cannot stop hate speech from, say, floating around on the Internet, but if we finally crack down on would-be domestic terrorists like the KKK, we will be doing something far more meaningful after Charleston than removing Confederate flags from public property, because–I said this before and I will say it again–hate groups encourage racial violence far more than all the incarnations of the Confederate flag put together.

      • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/10/2015 - 08:27 am.

        Hate Speech

        Yes, let’s clarify that your proposing to criminalize hate speech, not hate itself.

        The problem is you seem to think that you have a prima facie case that hate speech is a “threat” in and of itself… you haven’t actually made that case. For every Roof you point to we can actually point to a hundred hate groups that have never attacked or harmed anyone. They may be toxic, but they’re not actually “threats”. That Baptist Church for instance that protests gay/lesbian funerals has not attacked anyone and may never commit a single act of violence against anyone, but you want to classify them as criminals?

        You have to remember you’re talking about giving our government the power to prosecute citizens for yet another “threat” to society of some kind. Our government has a long and documented history of abusing it’s threat assessment powers, even with a First Amendment in tact. In the nineteen teens and twenty’s communist’s and “Anarchist’s” were rounded up for their dangerous “speech”, considered to be threats to national security. In the 60’s and 70’s Black Panther’s and American Indian Movement member’s were attacked and killed by government agents because they were deemed to be “threats”. And today we have police officers more or less routinely shooting and killing unarmed (mostly black males) because they feel “threatened”. Doesn’t inspire a lot of confidence.

        Our First Amendment may be a pain in the rear on occasion, but scrapping in order to give our police regime even more power to attack citizens for perceived threats is a tough sell. I mean you do know that actual threatening language is already illegal right? It’s against the law to actually threaten to harm someone. You don’t see a lot of arrests on a day to day basis but as a former mental health worker who had to deal with threatening language on a regular basis I tell you that laws are there. Every time a person under secret service protection comes to town there are a number of people who are rounded up and “detained” because they’ve made some kind of threat in the past. A lot of people think even that’s kind of spooky.

      • Submitted by Kurt Nelson on 07/12/2015 - 12:00 pm.

        Check this out

        Over at Volokh, the good Professor writes about the so called hate speech. He is one of the countries foremost authorities on First Amendment law – and is worth a read.

  17. Submitted by Richard Held on 07/10/2015 - 10:19 am.

    My Last Words On This Matter

    Sure threatening language is forbidden. That’s well and good. But while some hate groups may not have had members commit murders, give them time, people. Dylan Roof’s act has made him a hero to hate groups, and when heroes are made, imitators arise. The odds are that a Westboro Baptist Chruch member or two will eventually seek to emulate Dylan Roof, along with God knows who else.

    I know that banning hate groups alone will not stop hate crimes, nor that much of anything would completely stop hate crimes, but groups like the KKK are as much an anachronism as the Confederate flag–and ten times more toxic and, yes, a threat. I will tell you one more time: if the Confederate flag has to go, then the hate groups that embrace it must go too, otherwise banning that flag is a pathetic half measure that will do nothing constructive in the wake of the Charleston tragedy.

    • Submitted by Paul Udstrand on 07/10/2015 - 11:34 am.

      My Last Word

      “That’s well and good. But while some hate groups may not have had members commit murders, give them time, people.”

      You’re saying that ALL hate groups will eventually spawn killers and therefore represent a clear and present danger. You simply haven’t made that case. In the meantime, it’s not “some” hate groups that have not produced killers, it’s actually the majority of hate groups that have’t produced killers. We’d be turning people who haven’t and probably won’t actually harm anyone into criminals. Hate speech itself may be offensive, but it’s not actually harmful, nor does hate speech reliably predict future violence. There’s a difference between being obnoxious and being a clear and present danger, or even a potential future threat.

      • Submitted by Richard Held on 07/10/2015 - 06:33 pm.

        It is my opinion vs yours

        Mr. Udstrand:

        If I have failed to present facts, so have you, for this debate has swirled around a matter of opinions stemming from the one I put forth in my article.

  18. Submitted by Richard Held on 07/10/2015 - 10:02 pm.

    What I have noticed in this debate

    I figured my opinion re: hate groups would subject me to opprobrium, but I never dreamed I would:

    –Be accused of promoting censorship
    –Be accused of being a “troll” due to my intense participation in this debate
    –Be accused of “essentially throwing in the towel on the American experiment” due to my opinion

    and so on and so forth.

    I have also noticed that peoples’ responses have mostly been scripted in a cautious, anti-government, blindly pro-First Amendment manner (almost in much the same way as during gun control debates, though there the Second Amendment is the one blindly adhered to).

  19. Submitted by Jay Willemssen on 07/11/2015 - 12:10 am.

    Half-baked notion

    The commenters did an excellent job rebutting the understandable, but misguided, sentiment of this piece’s author. Be careful what you wish for.

  20. Submitted by Richard Held on 11/11/2015 - 07:47 pm.

    The Brutal Truth Is…

    The brutal truth is that the Confederate flag was a soft target which allowed attention to be diverted away from a serious discussion as to the role of hate groups and hate speech in inciting racial violence. When people like me tried to raise this question, we were shouted down by cowards who preferred to bury their heads in the sand about this issue.

    If you want to keep burying your head in the sand about this, folks, be my guest, but more hate crime violence is coming, be it from the KKK or the New Black Panthers – and lowering all the Confederate flags in the country, banning all sale of Confederate flags and other merchandise, and even yanking “The Dukes of Hazard” off the air is not going to stop it.

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