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KKK and Cross Burner's Rights

Discussion in 'Issues Around the World' started by ethics, Dec 12, 2002.

  1. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    A burning cross is indeed highly symbolic, Justice Thomas said, but only of something that deserves no constitutional protection: the "reign of terror" visited on black communities by the Ku Klux Klan for nearly 100 years before Virginia passed the law, which the Virginia Supreme Court declared unconstitutional a year ago.

    Finally, an issue that got Clarence Thomas animated.

    The US Supreme Court heard arguments over a <a href="http://www.nytimes.com/2002/12/12/politics/12SCOT.html">Virginia Supreme Court decision to overturn a conviction of Ku Klux Klan members for burning a cross</a>, citing First Amendment protection.

    The usually placid Thomas, whose unusual vow of silence during arguments annoyed many observers, went into a livid oratory denouncing the idea that cross burnings can be protected under the constitution.

    While the court spectators were shocked to hear Thomas deliver a rapturous baritone monologue on the symbolism of the burning cross, the other justices listened intently and were impressed by Thomas' opinions. So impressed, many of the same justices who considered that the ruling was unconstitutional moments before began to change their opinions.

    'A burning torch and a burning cross - what's the difference?' asks Rodney A. Smolla, the lawyer for the convicted men. Justice Kennedy shot back, '100 years of history.'

    Even Justice Scalia fell in line and noted blacks would rather see a rifle-toting man in their front yard rather than a burning cross.

    <small>(The victims in this case did move out of their Virginia Beach home after the incident.) </small>

    So, a court which <a href="http://slate.msn.com/?id=2075301">previously made burning flags and swastikas protected speech</a> is now set to put burning crosses into its own, unprotected category.

    But now only cross burnings are considered, the nation is more aware of terrorism in all its forms, and Justice Thomas found his singing voice. Should all that make a difference? Or does history really count for something when it comes to race?

    I predict this will be yet another charged issue and a heated debate.
  2. Ravenink

    Ravenink Veteran Member

    so long as it is their own crosses they are burning...and are not doing it on the private property of others or any other prohibited place, I would say the KKK has a right to be morons.
  3. RRedline

    RRedline Veteran MMember

    I feel that acts like these should be perfectly legal. However, I also feel that intimidation and harassment should be illegal.

    If I want to burn a cross in my back yard, why shouldn't I be permitted to do that? It's a religious symbol? Too bad! Read the First Amendment to the Constitution. If singling out a Christian symbol isn't respecting a particular faith, then I don't know what is.

    However, what if I were to burn a cross in an attempt to intimidate someone? Isn't that what the KKK has traditionally done? Well, I feel they should be arrested for harassment, but not for burning a cross.

    Does anyone think Madonna should be arrested for her "Like A Prayer" video? There were many burning crosses in that video. However, it was done not to intimidate anyone, at least not that I am aware of.

    If we make cross burning illegal, then we need to make lots of other things illegal as well. Why single out a single, religious symbol? Why not just arrest the KKK members when they harass and intimidate people?
  4. Misu

    Misu Hey, I saw that.

    History does count when it comes to race, as things like this are symbols for things, like the KKK using burning crosses and Nazi's using the swastika.

    I think Justice Kennedy hit it right on the head when asked what the difference was between a burning torch and a burning cross - the burning torch doesn't mean the same thing as the burning cross.
  5. Techie2000

    Techie2000 The crowd would sing:

    I have to agree with Ravenick. Course as an atheist, a burning cross is no different to me than some logs in the fireplace...
  6. ShinyTop

    ShinyTop I know what is right or wrong!

    I have always believed in equality. So of you can come up with arguments that allow burning a symbol I believe passionately in, my flag, you should accept a burning cross as protected speech. I disagree passionately with the burning of the cross but if we should defend the right to make that statement.

    I disagree violently that the burning cross or the confederate battle flag are more onerous symbols than a swastika. We are being raked over the coals by a portion of our history in which nobody defends. Let the ignorant speak their ignorance with burning crosses but if you take away their right to speak that way watch what symbol will be taken away next.

    What is so difficult to accept about taking away another's rights just makes it easier for somebody to take away your rights next week.

    Justice Thomas is wrong. His passion on the subject is understandable. But a true judge of the Supreme Court is not supposed to be about the passion of the symbol but of about the protection of the Constitution. Surely mere passion of belief made no difference when the symbol was merely our flag. They had brought me around to the free speech argument with regards to the flag. Now show me we are one country and that your argument applies to all symbols, not just mine.
  7. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    Correct, and this isn't a flame bait since I know your stance on here (and you are not one of these people anyway) but the same can be said of the pro-lifers who "bar" people by abortion clinics.

    The intent is intimidation.
  8. Misu

    Misu Hey, I saw that.

    Rred, Madonna's video "Like a Prayer" used burning crosses because her video was also dealing with racism - a white woman making out with a black man? She was dealing with 2 major taboos at the time - questioning the church and interracial dating. She used the burning crosses to represent racism in her video, like she used the cops beating the black guy.
  9. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

    AH! Bingo!

    I was waiting for the comment on Thomas and Shiny took me to the task. :)

    Totally agreed there, and I am stupified to find the left cheering Thomas on. And the shock that his speech actually swayed other judges?

    We need Asimov's robots to go by logic in SCotUS, it appears the human factor is standing in the way.

    For the record, I despise the KKK (went to jail for beating the living shit out of someone who was a member) and anything they stand for. However, as Rred mentioned, if we ban this, this opens up a lot of room to ban other things and I do not know about the rest of you, but I DO NOT want to be like Germany and other European countries that pretend hate doesn't exist by banning it.
  10. RRedline

    RRedline Veteran MMember

    I understand this point, Misu. It certainly is a huge difference in its meaning. However, is it against the law to hate? Do we not have freedom of speech?

    We must not allow ourselves to legislate thoughts. If cross burners are harassing people, they should be charged with harassment. If they are threatening people, they should be charged with terroristic threats. The KKK are a bunch of extremists who are starving for attention. Just ignore their pathetic cries for someone to look at them. And if they show up on your front lawn, call the police and have them arrested. Arrested for trespassing, harassment and/or anything else they do that is against the law. As for charging them for burning a piece of wood shaped as a cross? Um, that sounds strange to me. If that were to make sense to me, then sodomy laws would probably make sense too! ;)
  11. RRedline

    RRedline Veteran MMember

    Hmm...I guess that is true, ethics. However, I have never supported anyone's right to harass women walking into clinics. I suppose the act of protesting could certainly be considered harassment with regards to pro-lifers "demonstrating" near clinics. And barring anyone to a clinic(or a shopping mall, movie theater, grocery store, etc.) should be a punishable offense, in my opinion. I assume that it is.

    While I generally hold a pro-life view, I will agree with you, ethics. Those people should be protesting in the streets of Washington, D.C. and not harassing citizens who are not breaking any laws. And I'm sure you would agree with me that the Westboro Baptist Church should not be permitted to harass people(gay or straight) walking into gay bars.

    I know this word can be overused in these forums, but it's all about <b>tolerance</b>. It doesn't offend me to know that people protest gays and lesbians. As long as they stay away from me, I am okay with it. I feel that people should look at cross burners the same way. If they want to burn a cross on their own land in some field, let then have their little hate party. If they harass someone, throw their hating asses in jail.
  12. ethics

    ethics Pomp-Dumpster Staff Member

  13. mikepd

    mikepd Veteran Member

    In these times, worth repeating as often as possible.

    The passion for logic and what the Founding Fathers intended as applied in a modern society is a far cry from the passion of an emotional response to 100 years of injustice no matter how egregious the injustice.

    As there is no appeal from SCOTUS, just as I understand it, a hope that a future Court might review a past ruling, I expect the Members to be held to the very highest of standards.

    When it comes to sitting on the highest Court in the Land, passion and emotion in the proper form is fine. Knee-jerk gut reaction is not.

  14. RRedline

    RRedline Veteran MMember

    Hehe...I think you just argued the point I was trying to make! :)

    It was perfectly acceptable in her video to you and me because we understood her intent(apparently, Pepsi didn't). See, it is the INTENT that we should criminalize - not the action itself. If burning crosses was illegal, that would mean that the law was broken while filming her video. But the making of her video was not meant to harass or intimidate anybody any more than it was in the making of "Mississippi Burning." On the contrary, it was done in an effort to make people more understanding to the black community's perspective. That movie had a big effect on me just as Schindler's List did, by the way.

    If the KKK needs to release their angst by burning crosses, let them have their fun. If they are doing it to harass other people, then there's a problem.
  15. Coot

    Coot Passed Away January 7, 2010

    Damnit...I read this earlier today and was hoping this wouldn't come up until I had a chance to digest it.

    My half digested response would be that the intimidation factor cannot be readily dismissed...the same case can be made for swatztikas.

    However, the framers were very clear in their desire to protect free speech, no matter how repugnant that speech may be.

    As I am not now, nor ever will be a barrister, I choose to invoke Coot's Rule of Reasonability in the Defense of the Irrational:
    Personally, I'd like to see a 'Burning Sheet' campaign launched. Start burning KKK symbols in effigy...do it in the town square, do it at city hall, it's all good as long was we don't do it on david duke's front porch.
  16. wapu

    wapu Veteran Member

    I disagree. I do not like punishing people for what they think. I do not think the circumstances surrounding why someone committed a crime should be considered when punishing them for that crime. It should be illegal to go on someone elses property and light a fire. It should be illegal to beat someone up. It should be illegal to kill someone. None of these things are any worse a crime because of what the criminal was thinking.

  17. Frodo Lives

    Frodo Lives Luke, I am NOT your father!

    I agree with you on that. There will always be a bottom step on the ladder. Take it away and the next step up takes its place.
  18. RRedline

    RRedline Veteran MMember

    Wapu, did you mean that you agree with me? I think you might have misunderstood what I wrote. I completely agree with you. In fact, I think hate crime legislation is a bunch of crappola.

    What I meant was that burning crosses should not be illegal, but doing it to harass someone should. In other words, burn all the crosses you want in your back yard, but don't do it on LaShonda's and Dante's front lawn. (Was that racist of me to use those names?)
  19. wapu

    wapu Veteran Member

    We sort of agree. I think the act of burning the cross should be illegal. Not because it is a cross that is burned, but because <i>something</i> was burned, Not illegal because of the intent behind the burning. It is a fine distinction that I feel needs to be made. Now using someone's hatred of blacks as part of the <i>motive</i> when investigating is fine. To make the punishment greater based on those motives is wrong.

    As for the names? Dante makes me think of the guy in <i>Clerk's</i> so that is not racist.;)

  20. kristiankk

    kristiankk Banned

    are you prejudiced?

    have you been to all the kkk? web sites do you know what they belive? you are assuming that there all white supremist. i have been to severle sites all of them say they do not hate blacks. two of them even belive whites and blacks are equill. you assume they are racist before you even know them YOU ARE PREJUDICED you pre judged them SOME KLANS EVEN BELIVE WE ARE EQUILL. AND THEY BURN CROSSES OUT OF RESPECT TO CHRIST. they are just a white christian orginazation.

    if a few members of the naacp hanged a few whites decades ago would that justifi lableing them all racist.

    blacks,jews, and mexicans can all have groups without being labled racist why cant we.

    ill tell you why because of bigotry thats why

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