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Is it okay to punch Nazis? Show more Show less
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In 2016, a video of white nationalist Richard Spencer being punched in the face by an unidentified assailant went viral. As it did so, a question that was first asked in World War Two rose to the surface of public debate again: is it morally permissible to punch a Nazi? Some consider these increasingly-publicized acts of violence to be slippery slopes that endanger free speech and compromise morals, while others consider games of whack-a-fascist to be their God-given right, as well as their moral duty.

No, it's not okay to punch Nazis Show more Show less

Punching Nazis might sound satisfying, but if we want to uphold our morality, both individually and societally, we must find other means to mitigate the threat of fascism.
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We must uphold free speech

Using violence as a means to silence Nazis is a slippery slope that could eventually infringe on everyone's First Amendment rights to voice their beliefs.

The Argument

It goes without saying that Nazi beliefs should not be entertained as beneficial contributions to society-but does that mean they should not be expressed at all? The U.S. Constitution, which lays out the inalienable rights of the American people, would disagree. After all, the 1st Amendment guarantees freedom of speech-and this encompasses messages widely considered outdated, bigoted, and hateful, like the messages disseminated in neo-Nazi and white supremacist circles today. By punching Nazis-or worse, encouraging people to do so as a society-we adopt a sort of vigilante justice system that infringes on American citizens’ most basic rights. Of course, it is perfectly acceptable to ideologically oppose Nazism, but using violence to silence its supporters is both unconstitutional and immoral. Perhaps even more worryingly, doing so may become a slippery slope in our society as a whole. If we begin to strip away one group’s freedom of speech, the rights of the rest of the population may become endangered. Thus, we must oppose Nazism in ways that do not resort to violence, but instead support the fundamental rights of even the most immoral members of the larger community.

Counter arguments

As of right now, there are no laws in place dictating that Nazis may not express their beliefs. Their 1st Amendment rights ensure that they are perfectly free to do so. However, this does not mean that they will face no consequences for their hateful rhetoric. Put simply, freedom of speech does not mean freedom from consequence. This effect can be seen in other areas of society. For example, a person has the freedom to confess to a robbery or threaten to assassinate the president, but they are not free from the legal and social repercussions of their words. Additionally, this argument provides no justification for the importance of upholding the U.S. Constitution; it simply treats it as a good in and of itself, rather than explaining why it is just or beneficial.

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This page was last edited on Monday, 24 Aug 2020 at 02:12 UTC

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