In the Media Law class I’m in this semester, we’ve tossed around lots of fine examples of the First Amendment in action, including your classic cases of the Klan being allowed to march, speak, and get harangued by onlookers.
As I’ve said before somewhere, everyone has the freedom to be an asshole.
The theoretical response to letting Nazis parade through town is to allow them to march because it will make them appear to be foolish in the marketplace of ideas.
Then again, there’s always the Woody Allen response in Manhattan:
“Has anybody read that Nazis are gonna march in New Jersey? Y’know, I read this in the newspaper. We should go down there, get some guys together, y’know, get some bricks and baseball bats and really explain things to them.”
An intellectual responds something to the effect of “Oh, actually, I read this biting satire piece in the New Yorker about it this week, it was just fabulous.”
Allen assures the thinker something like “No, really, with Nazis, I think bricks and baseball bats are the way to go.”
Some Toledo citizens appear to agree, although the whole thing seems to have broken down into a police riot, rather than a confrontation with Nazis who planned to march through the predominantly black neighborhood.
Does the marketplace of ideas serve well enough to make the speech of assholes irrelevant? Are there occassions where the proverbial bricks and baseball bats serve any sort of positive purpose? What audience can be reached by violence that can’t be reached by biting satire?
[tags]Toledo, Marketplace of Ideas[/tags]