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Parent Article: Regional Peace Rally in Boston Draws 30-50,000 (english)
plainclothes cops, "freedom of speech" (english)
30 Mar 2003
Modified: 31 Mar 2003
In response to Squirrel:

Police in the Black Bloc?
Riding behind the main Boston police station on the way to the rally I saw two surly and snide looking police dressed all in black, with no badges, and with black backwards baseball caps, get into a minivan, looking like they were going to do a job that they relished. I suspect the went to the rally and were among the "minders" of the red and black. It bears repeating: don't expect all cops to look like cops. Know the people you work with.

To Erin,

I understand what you say about freedom of speech, but I don't support it on a philosophical level, because to me, speech is a special form of action and nobody claims to support freedom of all actions, like murder or assault or sexual assault. Speech is hurtful, contrary to "sticks and stones", names do hurt people and support a culture of hate and violence against people for who they are, especially in the dimensions racial, gender, and sexual preference.

I think there is something inherently wrong with protesting for a war. Of course it's their opinion, but I don't think they're aware of the implications of what they're supporting. I don't think our best tactic is to try to shut them down directly, but this is not on philosophical grounds based on "freedom of speech" but only because ridiculing and outnumbering them works a lot better, and shutting them down would have a bad backlash in this mainly liberal culture.

But the most important thing I want to say is that there's a HUGE connection between being prowar and being a blatant racist, and there were definitely outright white supremacists among the pro-war people. There were people with white supremacist patches or buttons on their backpacks, and one skinhead pushed a black man, at which point a white cop grabbed two black cops and asked them to come over and help the other white cops stand around these skinheads, to prevent any more physical violence. I still remember the smug smirk on the one white supremacist's face, while he told the cop "They're there expressing their views and we're here to express our views." But his views lead to untold violence and a culture of oppression. Ironic that he was the one to initiate the only physical violence that occured in that incident.

So, I respect your comments, but when you write "I believe that everyone, of course, has the inherent right to make their voices heard, loud and clear," I have to differ with you. If there is racist rhetoric posted on a billboard I will proudly deface it. If there are white supremacists making it know that non-White people are hated and should live in fear of violence, they're not free in my mind to voice their opinion loud and clear. On the contrary, people with a more developed conscience are obliged to address this issue seriously, and to work against those people actively, and not allow their voice to be broadcast "loud and clear" under the rubric of freedom of speech...

I felt these comments needed to be made.