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The internet exploded yesterday when a guy named Richard B. Spencer was decked by an unknown assailant in black. He later whined about it on a periscope and said he was "afraid" to go anywhere without a bodyguard. I've been wrestling with this all day and I'm not afraid to admit it's made me a bit morose. At which point in time does violence become acceptable? Is it ever acceptable? Does the dogma someone follows make it acceptable to use violence against them without fear of an assault of conscience? 

At first I thought "This is a man who spews hatred and vitriol like breathing air. He's the guy that helped normalize it in a way that is becoming fashionable. Punch him. You get what you give. You reap what you sow. Here's the whirlwind, baby! But after talking to some others and thinking on it more, I was reminded of something my grandfather said: "If you accuse someone of doing a thing and others believe you then they have no reason not to do it."

That got me thinking more. Not everyone who voted for Trump were racist, bigoted, alt-right assholes. They did it because they were scared of the state of the world. The economy. Because it's also become fashionable to bash people of faith (which I'll state that I'm not.). Because they believed what Trump was saying because he was different from others. This is also what made Bernie Sanders popular. He didn't speak or act like a politician. It was inevitable that Trump won against Hillary because Hillary is very much a politician who quacks and walks like a duck. 

But back to the topic at hand: Is it condonable to use violence against a specific type of person? I'm of two minds on this. Is what that type of person does, practices, or preaches morally questionable? (And I have to use the term moral a bit loosely - morality is not as cut and dry as most think. For now let's just define this as it's commonly defined in the West "Acts which by and large do not hurt sapient beings and are considered 'righteous".) For example, let's say someone's religion demanded that they make sacrifices of animals. This isn't exactly morally reprehensible. You slaughter animals so you can eat (well, vegans/vegetarians don't) so what's the difference? Let's change this: What if someone's religion demanded sacrifices of people? Is that not morally reprehensible? We'd never allow someone to kill another person to sacrifice for religious reasons. Neo-Nazis and the "alt-right" preach some seriously morally reprehensible crap. Should they be allowed to say it? Yes. That's freedom of speech. If you're going to call white people the master race and denigrate everyone else then fine. You can say that. You're an asshole and I reserve the right to call you one because of it. But if you start acting on those words? If you decide that killing Jews, blacks, etc. is ok because they are "inferior." Then you get punched. Did the guy do the right thing? I don't know. Should he be punished for it? Yeah, probably. It's assault. You practiced your right to break the law and now someone else gets to practice their right to have it enforced. That is as it should be. The right for you to throw a punch ends when your hand touches my face. Period. Even scumbags get that right.

But is violence condonable? I don't know. Not yet anyways. There is so much fear and uncertainty right now. So much doubt and loss of faith in the system. When the Americans entered World War II it was because we'd just been suckerpunched and one of our allies was on the brink. A lot of my family died "Over There" to stop the rise of fascism and now, seven decades later it's rearing its ugly head again. I know we as a nation can't allow it to happen again and we simply must resist with every ounce of our being. A good man once said:

“I wish I could say that racism and prejudice were only distant memories. We must dissent from the indifference. We must dissent from the apathy. We must dissent from the fear, the hatred and the mistrust…We must dissent because America can do better, because America has no choice but to do better.”

I think it's time to start that dissent. And if we must use violence then so be it. But not for the sake of violence or because it's the easier path. Walk the road of peace and when you cannot walk that winding and difficult way, trudge in the mud and cling tight to everything that you hold dear because in the end violence only begets violence and you must decide how far you are willing to go. Oft times, it's farther than you want to and it is always further than those who stand before you.

(And I'm not looking for comments or debate here. I'm just trying to get this out of my head.)

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C. R. Rice

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