18 October 2017

On racism, Racism, Spencer and the First Amendment

I'm not a lawyer, and I'm far from an expert on the Constitution. So I'm just sharing my own, possibly unpopular, opinion.

I don't like Richard Spencer. He can use whatever label he wants for himself and his ideology, but he is a Racist. Some time ago I started to think in terms of little "r" and capital "R" racism. I have found the distinction helpful.

Little "r" racism (hereafter simply written "racism") is very common. Most of us possess it. racism is a function of the implicit biases that we all possess. These biases come from nature, as in our innate preference for grouping people according to obvious traits, documented in books like Nurture Schock. I'm white, he's black, she's Asian. We draw conclusions based on those distinctions. These biases can be learned, often indirectly through observing parents, friends and directly through media, school, and other forms of instruction and indoctrination.  Some of these conclusions are correct, some incorrect. Some are simply unfair, based on ignorance. Some have an aspect of malice to them, but don't rise to the level of Capital "R" Racism (Racism from now on).

The distinction for me between racism and Racism is a question of mindfulness or intent. The Racist possesses explicit biases that inform their actions and thinking. They actively view their world through the prism of that bias, rather than being indirectly influenced by it.

White Supremacy is a Racist ideology. Nazism is Racist. Richard Spencer is Racist

The First Amendment allows someone to be Racist. It doesn't protect them from the consequences of their Racism, but as deplorable as it is, our Constitution allows them the right to that belief. In fact, they are guaranteed the right to express that belief. That right is not without cost or consequence, as stated above, but the government does not, and should not, legislate belief.

I don’t want Richard Spencer to speak at the University of Florida tomorrow, but I think President Fuchs made the correct, difficult decision. I am among those who thinks the best outcome would be for Spencer to express his Racism into an empty room. People like him are fueled by the controversy they create. Any hint of violent opposition to his words is considered (by him) proof of their correctness.

I hope those in proximity to tomorrow’s event remember this. No one is justified who confronts speech with violence. All of us are responsible for our own actions. Those who support Racism, and then find themselves out of work or abandoned by friends and neighbors, are paying the price for their choices.

I won't be protesting Richard Spencer's event tomorrow. I have work to do, a school carnival to attend with my family, and church commitments to keep. Lacy and I will share our feelings with our children as we have in the past, exercising our freedom of expression in the most important venue we have- our home.

I wish safety for those who do protest, and for the many law enforcement officers and others who will keep the peace.

02 October 2017


I wrote today on my Twitter feed that
Like everyone I have spoken to, I frequently checked the news for updates, hoping to understand what prompted the attack, what the killer’s motivation might be.

In social media feeds, I frequently saw people remark how “the world is going crazy.” That is true, in many ways.

In other, very important ways, it is not.

We are much less likely to die prematurely today than at any other time in human history. There is less war, less crime, less disease, less poverty. We have seen wonderful acts of kindness and service following the recent hurricanes, and we will continue to see it.

The evil we see today is often carried out by individuals and small groups. Their motivations and ideologies are not broadly accepted. It is no less despicable for that fact, but I believe that these events seem more heinous precisely because we have been blessed by tremendous physical safety.

This doesn’t bring back those who died last night in Las Vegas, or heal the injuries of those who lived. But I stand with the millions who will help them recover, and there is great power in that association.

The horrific nature of these shootings does seem to represent a deepening evil, and we could spend a lot of time examining its roots. But I also see a compensatory good that rises in opposition to it, and that is what I want to recognize tonight.