I was reminded today that even though Free Speech is a right that is established by the First Amendment of the United States Constitution, it takes great willpower to not infringe upon others even when you know it’s morally wrong. Two events reminded me of this.
First, I was in Wenatchee, WA at the Council office. I travel to these offices in different councils because my job allows me this type of travel. I need breaks from driving so, I go. Every once and awhile I will pick up a patch or segment that I do not have. Today was no different. I found the Den Leader Coach Knot. It was retired in 2000 and replaced by the Cubscouter Knot. The lady who helped me was great. She is a Wood Badger. (I forgot to ask her totem) We had a great talk about the Council I was visiting and what they were up to. They are soon to have a Leadership Breakfast that will be honoring several Scouts and Scouters. Their guest speaker will be the Attorney General of Washington State. He is an Eagle. We talked about how important Scouts is and how just being a Scout helps not only the person, but others around them. It was a good time.
When I got to my stop in Monroe, Wa, I went in and conducted my business. Business as usual. However, it was there that I came face to face with HATE. I was shocked and stunned. I had never seen it like that before. There, talking on a cellphone was a white male, about 6 ft, slender and with tattoos. I do not mind tattoos, I even have one myself. But what was very hard to miss was the words on his black hooded sweatshirt. ” SUPPORT YOUR WHITE TRASH” with the Nazi SS Logo right in the middle. He was right there with HATE SPEECH. Something that I just never thought I would see that blantent out in the open. To me, it’s like watching Marlin Perkins on Mutual of Omaha on Sunday nights after 60 Minutes showing really cool stuff about animals in some far off land that I would never see. But, there it was. No documentary on TV showing me about this stuff.
My first reaction was just to stare directly at him, which I did. I thought that I should go over and tell him that his hooded sweatshirt is offensive to me. I did not move. I thought, what if he punches me? What do I do then? I did nothing. I did nothing because I did not want to create a scene. I was at this store as a representative of my company and not there for myself. Which had no bearing on me if I did act.
I realized that if I did do something that I would be the agressor and would be violating his Freedom of Speech. He did nothing wrong to me, nor incited me. I left him alone. It was the First Amendment in action without him knowing it.
So, how do both of these events tie into each other? Both events are tied together because of laws we abide by. I realized that being a Scout there are certain laws that need to be upheld even when facing adversity. While I cannot abide by the person who promotes ideals of hate, I have to recognize that we both live under the same laws. Laws that must be respected and upheld if they are to be of any good to others.
As the night comes to this land,
On my promise I will stand,
I will help the pack to go,
As our pack helps me to grow.
Yes, I’ll always give goodwill,
I’ll follow my Akela still.
And before I stop to rest,
I will do my very best.