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Brust: Fight white supremacists with your free speech instead of restricting others

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by the Collegian or its editorial board.

The display in Charlottesville was not a protest, it was a race riot. The rally initially was a gathering of various alt-right groups to oppose the removal of confederate statues. Protesters gathered in emancipation park and were met by counter protesters from various leftist groups. Although white supremacist groups and anti-fascist (antifa) groups were both involved in the violence, there is no denying the purpose of the rally was to promote inequality by pro-white organizations.


Unfortunately, the response to the violence and murder perpetrated during these events was equally as destructive. A media heyday has erupted as lawmakers and political leaders jump to comment on the topic in the most constructive way without dismissing leftist groups. The left and right have showed distain for the situation and acknowledged the violence and loss of life. However, it seems no universal consensus can be made on exactly how to handle racial tensions that have surfaced as a result of the Charlottesville events. The social impact of this rally has posed too many questions to form a general consensus.

The Charlottesville rally highlights two very controversial and subjective topics: What is free speech, and when is it no longer considered free speech?

Pursuing new policies regarding hateful expression would seem like the correct route to ensure this does not happen again, but unfortunately, the only way to eradicate white supremacism, is to use the same right they used to spread bigotry. 

Free speech has been at the epicenter of political commentary since the 2016 election. On college campuses, the topic has been affecting the lives of students. At Colorado State University, free speech zones were abolished in 2016 under senate bill 62. Groups like LGBTQQA have tried to enforce inclusive language on campus. On multiple levels, CSU has discussed what free speech is and how we should control it so that language does not harm students and make them feel unsafe.

It is important to note that certain language can be condemned by municipalities as “fighting words” if their utterance inflicts injury or tends to incite violence. Of course, stating you will harm someone (fighting words) does not fall in the category of free speech because it is associated with violent action. Getting hurt feelings is a choice. The government cannot, and should not restrict any type of speech, because it takes power from Americans that can easily be manipulated by the government. 

The American Civil Liberties Union commented on the rallies with a tweet, “If the government gets to decide which speech is hate speech, the powers that be may later feel free to censor any speech they don’t like. Restricting any group or individual’s speech jeopardizes everyone’s rights. The same laws used to silence bigots can be used to silence you.”

Hate speech is protected under the first amendment, so the only thing we can do to fight white supremacy is speak out against it. As long as you do not infringe upon the rights of others or violate a contract with your language, anybody can say what they please, no matter how bigoted it may be. Right now, this may seem like an abhorrent injustice. However, if we limit free speechof white supremacists, the entirety of America is at risk. But, if we do not stand out against white supremacy, the group may feel welcome to display acts of hate publicly moving forward, so something must be done. Limiting free speech is not an option.

However, the Charlottesville protest resulted in the death of an innocent civilian. This is an issue with violence and division, not speech. Before counter protesters from anti-fa arrived, no violence occurred. It is the polarization of liberal and conservative ideas that drove us to side with the group that serves our partisan affiliation and justify violence if it furthers our individual goals. It is not an issue with the left and the right, it is not an issue with the limits of speech, the issue is condoning violence if it suits your needs.

The only way to condemn white supremacy  is to condemn violent groups as a whole. Yes, liberals, that means we must also condemn the actions of anti-fa. Anti-fa may not be responsible for years of oppression, but that does not dismiss them as wholesome. Anti-fa destroys property, and promotes violence against conservative speakers on college campuses. It is not a pick and choose game – condemn all violence.


Our founding fathers told us that factions were a regrettable choice. However, we have gone beyond factions and ventured into a polarized society where violence is a factor in getting what we want. So, we must move forward and fight vile speech with educated free speech. To impose restraints on hate groups is to restrain yourself. Also, perpetrating violence against what you hate means it’s okay for others to do the same.

At the end of the day, you cannot fight fire with fire. However, you can fight ignorant speech with your freedom of speech, and that is the beauty of democracy.

Opinion Editor Allec Brust can be reached at or online @allecbrust.

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    The Mad HatterAug 25, 2017 at 12:11 am

    Allec Brust, your title could have been more objective, but you have spoken well and have further illuminated the role of anti-fa as a primary agitator to what could have otherwise been a peaceful assembly of free (and uncomfortable) speech. To preempt the TardThink from putting my words into a mental box titled “all things NAZI”, I have to point out that I think nazi’s are bad, very bad, and even badder that than bad. I am a bigot towards nazi’s. I’m am also a bigot towards anti-fa, black lives matter, driving while texting(some of the worst subhumans), and all things stupid and soulless. Bigot defined: a person who is obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices; especially : “one who regards or treats the members of a group with hatred and intolerance.”

    The behavior of the left wing radical fringe of anti-fa, black lives matter and many others, have provoked, promoted, and displayed hatred, violence, segregation and bigotry, unseen since the civil-rights era they claim to still be fighting for. The last several years have reached a screeching harpy crescendo of self righteous, week minded victims of NOTHING. Hysterically Hyperventilating over micro-aggression’s, identity politics, bathrooms, wedding cakes, pronouns, Russians, statues, and on and on. And if your white, male or anyone that supports the success of the current President and these “United” States, your just too stupid, too racist, too privileged, or too fascist to even talk or listen to. And how that working? It’s almost surprising that the white nationalist took so long to show up to these provocations, but their numbers are so small these days, it probably took considerable time to organize such a threatening mob. But anti-fa and black lives matter are ALWAYS there to beat the skulls of the lawful and orderly, while the “fake news” ignores the countless acts of their TERRORISM, violence, and vandalism. The destroyers of peace in the anti Trump “news” networks, have even pitched the idea that anti-fa could be viewed as kind of peace activist/street hero. Now the “fake news” narrative propagandizes the events of Charlottesville as the ah-ha/got-ya moment of the century, demonstrating the root cause of all our problems. The last straw in our tolerance for those evil Russian-loving fascist, nazi, misogynist, racist, intolerant pig Trump supporters. In other words, throw up what ever may stick to create the best enemy George Soros’s (a real nazi collaborator) money can buy, so that a Global elite can take refuge from their crimes by the the distractions of our stupid, petty, MANUFACTURED DIVISIONS. And anti-fa uk tards and paid blm activist, are the stupid willing dups working for “the Man” they think they’re fighting. These subhumans are the most dangerous threat to the stability of the United States since the unfolding of ‘the War Between the States’. They act exactly like the nazi’s, while applying the nazi label to anyone directly in front of them. They poke red white and blue until they strike back. Then CNN points the cameras at their reaction and declares the victims ‘the enemies of humanity’. And we the sheeple are supposed to pick a side to show how divisive Pres. Trump is. These chumps aren’t nazi’s though, they are cousins of a much larger, more dangerous branch of the same beast. They are communist, the plague responsible for the largest number of deaths of any political philosophy in the human story. And that, should be news. We can disagree, but if you aren’t trying to model the approach of ML King or Gandhi in your speech, protest, and every day life, your not solving any problems, you are the problem. As a bigot of all things stupid, I must constantly remind my self that the human condition contains a seed of hope, and that all of us has the potential to learn, grow and be something more. To be teachers of love and peace by example, and not falling into the trap of monkey killing monkey. Peace.