Free Speech and Racism

I yesterday was pretty stunned to see a Facebook post making fun of Asians.

As the comments and “likes” rolled in real-time, I frankly couldn’t believe it. But, after thinking about it, I’m going to assume that the author (someone from my high school class) meant it as a harmless joke.

The topics which I’d like to address here are three-fold.

First, I’ve heard much, much worse. Racial jokes and taunts were common growing up. Probably the worst example happened one day when I was home from college (my parents were living in California). I was at the parking lot of an In-N-Out Burger, when two guys came up to me. “Hey, Dad,” one said, “here’s a gook.  Let’s beat the sh** out of him.” In broad daylight. I couldn’t believe it.

I didn’t go to that area much, in that there’s not much there, but I happened to be in transit. It was an area which had a thriving branch of the Ku Klux Klan (more here).

Second, race has become a topic at our household, since an eye-opening discussion Christmas Night about apartheid. I’m in a mixed-race marriage, and we had always assumed that everyone in our immediate circles was against subjugation based on race. The above Facebook post will inject another round of dialogue about race with our children. And, that’s good.

Third, I’m all for free speech. I think it’s a cherished feature of our nation. You can say what you want, when you want it. If it means people will share their racism, I’m all for it.

In fact, if people look down on other races, I’d rather know that up front.  If you have those views, have the guts to express them, and let’s have a debate over your views.

You don’t like me because of my race? Well, at least show yourself.

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