Yesterday a friend of mine posted on his MySpace blog a story about attending a KKK rally in Newport, TN a few years ago on MLK Day. My buddy isn’t a KKK supporter in any way. He was there more for the circus atmosphere than anything. As he says, it is fun to see stupid people doing stupid things.
His post describes how the Klan chose Newport because the town was unable to pass restriction on them in time to prevent the issuance of a permit. The rally ended up being relegated to a small area near the courthouse surrounded by the police for the Klan’s protection. Apparently, it was difficult to hear the spout any of their nonsense from outside the barricades due to the drumming of the hippies who’d gathered to protest the protest, or whatever.
I was thinking about the many levels of injustice that were present in this situation, and how one of the biggest benefits of free speech was probably never even intended. Free speech gives absolute idiots the opportunity to expose themselves for what they really are.
I’m too lazy to look it up, but I believe it was Mark Twain who said, “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt. ”
All of the cities and towns that “successfully” blocked the Klan denied their citizens the opportunity to find out what they believe and decide for themselves. The hippies that drummed them out of earshot did the same, and became an annoyance in and of themselves.
Wouldn’t a better approach be to have someone with an opposing view (and the courage to espouse it without hiding their identity) present a different set of ideas? Are we afraid that people are so ignorant that they can no longer tell a good idea from a bad one?