A Difficult Conclusion …

Richard Spencer.  Merely hearing the name raises my hackles. And he is back in the news because … he lost his gym membership.  The abbreviated version:

Spenser-gym

Picture & commentary by Christine Fair on Twitter

Richard Spencer was working out at the Old Town Sport & Health gym in Alexandria, Virginia, last Wednesday, when a Georgetown University professor, C. Christine Fair, recognized him and confronted him.  When she asked if he was Richard Spencer, he initially denied it, but she persisted and proceeded to berate him, saying …

“Of course you are, so not only are you a Nazi — you are a cowardly Nazi. I just want to say to you, I’m sick of your crap — that this country belongs [to people like you]. . . . As a woman, I find your statements to be particularly odious; moreover, I find your presence in this gym to be unacceptable, your presence in this town to be unacceptable.”

According to reports, Ms. Fair did not let up and at some point in the confrontation, Mr. Spencer sought the aid of one of the gym’s trainers, an African-American woman.  Eventually the general manager of the gym was called, and he chastised Ms. Fair, saying that Spencer had a right to join the gym, and accusing Ms. Fair of creating a hostile environment.  Fair said that she told the general manager the employees of the gym — most of whom were not ‘white, Christian males’ — could file a class action suit against the gym “for being subjected to this man due to his public hate mongering.”  Ultimately, the gym rescinded Spencer’s membership.

Now … I admit that on first reading this story, I did applaud, saying, “ha ha  …  he got what he deserved”.  And part of me still feels that way.  However … upon reading a response to one of Spencer’s twitter tweets about the incident, I had to double back and examine my own conscience, think with my head instead of my heart, and conclude that … in the absence of Mr. Spencer mistreating any employee or patron of the gym, his membership should not have been revoked.  Sigh … it pains me to have to say that.  Here is the tweet that kicked my thought process into gear:

Richard  🐸 Spencer Retweeted

 TinkerBelle‏ @A_Nice_Girl_  May 20

 Does this mean we can start kicking Jews and coloreds out of our business establishments?

And when I read that, I thought about businesses that want to refuse to serve the LGBT community, those who would turn African-Americans away from housing in certain neighborhoods, and I realized this is no different.  Yes, in my book Richard Spencer is a grade A jerk, a bigot, a homophobe, a racist, and yes, a Nazi.  While he denies being a Nazi, he uses the stiff-armed salute at rallies and speeches, and his ideology is that of a white supremacist who believes white people to be superior over all others.  So yes, he IS a Nazi. But, I think that as long as he is breaking no law, he has the same rights to enter a gym, a grocery store, or a public library as any of us.

I think I speak for many of us when I say that we are incensed when a baker refuses to bake a wedding cake for a gay couple, or when restrictive voter ID laws are passed to discriminate against minorities.  We feel rage when people deny LGBT children the right to use a restroom at school.  If we support discrimination by businesses against the likes of Mr. Spencer, then we are no better than the bigots, racists and homophobes who discriminate against blacks, Jews, Muslims, Hispanics, LGBT, and women.

If those of us who support inclusion and non-discrimination for all groups deny those principles to any group, then is not that a double standard?  Are we not engaging in the very behaviour we disparage?

Personally, I believe that Mr. Spencer should be in prison, not for his beliefs, but because on multiple occasions he has been guilty of inciting to riot and hate speech, at the very least.  He has been banned from no less than 26 countries in Europe.  If it can ever be proven that he broke the law, encouraged others to break the law, then he should be arrested. But until such time, I do not think I can condone his rights being infringed because the majority of us find him and his ideas offensive.

It is much easier to applaud people like Spencer being kicked out of the gym, much harder to reach deep into the mind and determine what is right, but unless we are willing to have our opinions dismissed as “just another snowflake thought”, this is an exercise we must go through, and we must come to the fair and logical conclusion.  I believe I have done this, though admittedly it is not one that makes me happy.  But my conscience tells me it is the right conclusion.

Your thoughts?

29 thoughts on “A Difficult Conclusion …

  1. Like the article Jill! Although I do not agree with your ideas at all I do think your conclusion is in the right place. We should always allow people to say what they think, and then search for truth together. If we look at each persons ideas subjectively and openly, then free speech is only that, speech. It is only when people begin to suppress each other the thoughts of others do manifestations of violence occur in response.

    Like

    • Thank you! We do not have to agree on everything, but we simply must not let civil discourse die, as it seems to be doing these days. I find that if we converse respectfully, we can always learn from others, even those with whom we do not agree. Thanks again!

      Like

  2. That’s tough. It’s hard to separate emotion from reason, but I do agree that she shouldn’t have strong-armed the owner into banning the guy. Making the owner aware so that they’re keeping a close eye on him should have sufficed.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Freedom of speech only goes so far in England..Yet the law on hate crime is so muddied and confused that one is afraid to say anything against any minority group at all ~ even Neo-Nazis. I think the gym should have left they guy alone until he abused someone, and then kicked him out. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, that was my thought also, that they should have waited until they had justification. As for the whole issue of freedom of speech … it is a slippery slope. If you draw a line, where is that line? Sometimes … often these days … I am appalled at the things people can and do say under the umbrella of free speech, and yet … I fear that imposing limits would open the doors to limiting others, and before long one would need to be very careful what one said in public. Tough to decide, but I do think there should be some limits … I just don’t know where the line should be.

      Like

  4. Dear Jill,
    As long as he wasn’t spreading his hate speech, he should have been left alone. The trouble for me is that his very presence symbolizes hate. Still nothing is gained by stooping to his level.
    Hugs, GRONDA

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, I agree … those of us with good will must take a higher road and not lower ourselves to the standards of the haters. But sometimes it is so tempting to go start a mud-fight with them! 😀

      Hugs!!!!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Dear Jill,
        Those who have ever witnessed my Italian hissy fit will never forget the experience. Most would never guess that I am capable of such a show. But when the cause is worthy, well then I can deliver the fireworks.

        Hugs, Gronda

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I hate to have to agree but I do. I would object to him being where I was but would leave and let everyone know why in case others didn’t know him. I’m surprised the gym revoked his membership and hope they refunded him. They should just have ensured no staff he could abuse would serve him and left him in place.
    More power to Prof Fair for voicing her disgust at his beliefs so we know the voice of good isn’t silenced.
    xxx Massive Hugs xxx

    Liked by 1 person

    • Yes, and I must admit that if I had been her, I likely would have given him a piece of my mind … that IS freedom of speech … but I would not see his rights to be there taken away … sigh. Sometimes it isn’t easy to ‘do the right thing’, but if we don’t, then we lower ourselves to the level of the very people we are criticising.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. It is so hard to take that high road, especially when others refuse to. But that is when it becomes most important to remain true to your convictions. I am saying this to convince myself more than anything… Hope you had a good weekend!

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Perhaps American Law needs to be ‘looked at’ to criminalise ‘hate speech’ or ‘fomenting/encouraging’ discrimination. Have a look at the South African Constitution! Your President would not get away with lots of what he has been saying…. (in South Africa). 😉

    Liked by 3 people

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