The Denver Post is reporting on a series of racist signs being posted in a Denver neighborhood. The signs read: “Get rid of the poor Hispanics. White power.”
But the real surprise was in the comments to the post, where most everyone is defending the signs.
Some of the commenters couldn’t figure out what was racist about the message:
A number of the commenters felt that this fell under “freedom of speech,” and was no difference than posting signs around the neighborhood with your political opinions:
Is it just free speech?
I’d argue that this border on, if not is, an attempt to push a minority group, or keep them, out of your neighborhood. That could run into federal fair housing non-discrimination laws and rules. For example, here’s a summary of one portion of the law:
It is illegal for anyone to:
- Threaten, coerce, intimidate or interfere with anyone exercising a fair housing right or assisting others who exercise that right
- Advertise or make any statement that indicates a limitation or preference based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, familial status, or handicap. This prohibition against discriminatory advertising applies to single-family and owner-occupied housing that is otherwise exempt from the Fair Housing Act.
Then again, in terms of the gravity of the situation, we let the Nazis march in Skokie all those many years ago, and is this really any different, really any worse, than Nazis down main street in a Jewish suburb of Chicago?
But maybe it depends on the message. Could the Nazis march and spew their anti-semitic filth so long as they don’t also add, “Jews out of Skokie”? Is that the kicker that crosses the line – wanting Jews to move, while claiming Jews are genetically inferior, or should all die, doesn’t cross the same line?
I’m not terribly sympathetic to the sign-makers’ freedom of speech here, but the commenters, perhaps unwittingly, raise an interesting question as to when speech crosses the line requiring government action. Meaning, how far does speech have to go before the police can, and should, get involved?
And, while we tend to accept that someone is permitted to be a racist, and spew all the hate he wants, he can’t do it in a way that infringes on your rights. And one of those rights is to be able to live where you want, buy a home or rent an apartment where you want.
Of course, some of the commenters thought perhaps this was a “false flag” operation. False flags are a favorite notion of the conspiracy-minded crowd. Basically, they’re fake conflicts started by someone (usually the government) with an ulterior motive. So in this case, the false flag might be the government wants to clamp down on whitey, or something, and is trying to provide a justification for that clampdown.
I’ve got a call into a house-lawyer friend to ask about the details of this, and see if this kind of rhetoric and actions get us into fair-housing territory.
I’ll leave you with this comment, which did make me chuckle: