the ethics of firing racist protesters

A reader writes:

After the Charlottesville violence, I’ve been watching discussion on one of my professional organization’s Facebook groups and would appreciate your opinion about it.

People are discussing the ethics of figuring out the identities of white supremacists from news photos, and then reporting them to their employers. Apart from the “ethics” of white supremacy, and associated domestic terrorism, what do you think are the HR/management implications?

At first I’d wondered if it was appropriate to report somebody if it would result in his removal from a job for participating in protected political speech. But then, thinking about it longer, I wondered if instead a person would be creating a hostile environment in any job, once his coworkers saw that he’d participated in a protest that argued against the value of races other than white. How could a minority employee be expected to feel safe around someone like that at work?

So, purely on an management basis, what do you think?

I think that as a society we’ve chosen to treat racism, bigotry, and hate speech as different from normal political discourse, and that smart employers will do the same.

I believe strongly your private life is no one’s business but yours, as long as you’re not hurting anyone else. But if you’re publicly espousing hateful, racist views, your employer is entitled not to want to be associated with that or to expose their other employees and their customers to that. (And indeed, in most states there’s no such thing as “protected political speech,” unless it’s about wages or working conditions.)

Whenever this comes up, people ask whether that means that it’s okay for employers to meddle in other kinds of speech too, because it’s important for people to be able to speak out for social or political change without jeopardizing their employment, and what if an employer wanted to discipline or fire someone for protesting against the president or organizing for health care access? But again, hate speech is different, and as a society we’ve chosen to treat it differently.

Everyone in the U.S. has a constitutional right to hold whatever opinions they want to hold, and to voice those opinions as long as they do so peacefully. But that right to free speech means that the government can’t punish them for that speech. Private employers, on the other hand, have the right to say they won’t be associated with hate speech (or in this weekend’s case, violence), and can choose to keep that kind of vileness out of their workplaces. I’d argue that employers who do that — and who choose to stand with their black, Jewish, Latino, Muslim, and other non-white employees — are on solid moral ground.

{ 1,078 comments… read them below }

    1. Anlyn*

      Man, I need to bookmark this so I can link to it every time I see someone pipe out about “but, free speech!”.

      1. Elsewhere1010*

        Or you can buy several 99¢ copies of the Constitution to hand out. So many people are genuinely surprised when they, you know, actually read the 1st Amendment.

        1. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

          The comic may be partially wrong as a matter of *state* analogues to the First Amendment, however — in particular, California’s. In the 1980s, in a case called Pruneyard, the California California Supreme Court had ruled that, under California law, quasi-public spaces (shopping malls specifically) had a duty to accommodate people exercising free speech. The US Supreme Court ruled that the states, including California, could adopt free speech protections broader than those in the First Amendment.

          So it is possible, under some circumstances, that private organizations have a duty to host speech they disagree with. This is why you often find people approaching you in California airports and malls to discuss political matters and sign petitions.

        2. Fafaflunkie*

          I am not American, but I am well versed in the First Amendment of the US Constitution:

          Amendment I. Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

          Key word: Congress. As in the government. If your employer has a problem with your views on things, assuming you don’t work for the government, then they do have a say in your First Amendment rights. As long as it’s not about forming a union or complaining about wages, you publicly making a statement that contradicts your employer’s raison d’etre can put you on the unemployment line, at least to my understanding.

          1. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

            It used to be that people made the argument that state legislatures could constrict free speech to their hearts’ content, precisely on the grounds you identify: that the First Amendment, and the rest of the Bill of Rights, only covers Congress, and not the states.

            This was the dominant view in the 19th century, but in the 20th century, the Supreme Court has consistently rejected it. This is known as the “incorporation doctrine,” which meant that the Bill of Rights was “incorporated” to cover the states, as well as the federal government.

            1. Fafaflunkie*

              While I agree with you on the statement about the US Supreme Court smacking the individual states’ right to suppress free speech, this wasn’t my argument. I was stating that your employer can take issue in most cases of your opinion and can terminate your employment because of it.

          2. Fafaflunkie*

            Reading this over, and wishing for an edit button, I also understand that an employer cannot fire you if you’re defending protected classes under the Civil Rights Act, or the Americans With Disabilities Act. Alas, a**hole employers will (ahem) Trump up another excuse to fire you.

      2. Brett*

        Understand that there is both the right to free speech, which protects you from government restrictions, and the concept of free speech (sometimes called liberty of expression), which does not protect speech at all but speaks to the philosophical concept of an independent value to free expression outside of society.
        The latter, though, cannot exist in a practical society which must always place political (not philosophical) limitations on speech that govern those areas where two forms of expression restrict each other.
        Another take of this is that there is no freedom of speech. We only protect speech to protect other freedoms, and any speech which is not in protection of those other freedoms has no right to protection. (Again, the idea that there is no independent value to free speech, only the value of free speech to protect other freedoms which do have independent value.)

        tl;dr: Free speech is more than first amendment protections. The first amendment is only the form of speech that we have chosen to protect as a society, as free speech by itself has no value other than the value of the other freedoms it protects.

        More reading: John Stuart Mill’s harm principle from On Liberty, which explains why social approbation is far more chilling to free speech and harmful to democracy than government sanction, even though political expression of free speech only protects from the latter and not the former.

        1. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

          It seems to me that this entire thread is dancing around two distinct, albeit related, questions.

          1. Ought employees be protected from retribution by employers for engaging in political speech? Now, it’s clear that in the US, there’s no such protection under the First Amendment, which applies to governmental restrictions on speech, although a few states (chiefly California) have adopted statutory protections for employee speech.

          My own view is that other states would do well to emulate California’s example in this, as in so many other political trends. The strongest argument against that position is, ironically, based on the First Amendment; namely, that companies and other private organizations have their own free speech rights, and that they may exercise them to enforce the company line. It seems to me, though, that this line of reasoning implicitly endorses the Citizens United reasoning (“corporations=people”) that many people find troubling in other contexts.

          Ultimately, as Brett aptly points out above, in a liberal society, we recognize free speech and public inquiry as independent goods, even before we get to First Amendment jurisprudence. There is a public interest in fostering lively and contentious political debate. It seems to me that if an employer can fire employees willy-nilly for exercising free speech rights, we de facto have no free speech rights. Free speech rights are meant for all, including those who must earn a living, and not merely the privileged few of independent means.

          That is why I would broadly come down on the side of expanding the California statute. (And who knows? The idea of applying the First Amendment to private enterprise is laughable today, but equally so was the idea of applying it to the States 150 years ago. Who knows what constitutional scholars will say 150 years from now?)

          2. Ought there to be an exception to free speech rights, to whomever they apply, for hate speech? I think this is a much closer question. I’m extremely sympathetic to slippery slope arguments. On the other hand, I also strongly endorse hate crimes legislation (i.e., statutes that penalize hate-motivated crimes above and beyond the penalty for the underlying crime committed for reasons other than hate).

          3. It is very surprising that in this entire debate, no one has mentioned James Damore, the author of the Google memo concerning women in the workplace. I do think Google severely erred in firing James Damore, which is an excellent example of the slippery slope in action. It is clear, whether you agree with his contentions or not, that Damore is not part of the alt-right, and certainly not a Nazi. Indeed, quite a few commentators *on the left* have argued that his memo is based on sound evolutionary psychology research. And yet Google fired him and, in so doing, turned him into a martyr, such that in Mountain View, where Google is headquartered, the alt-right is staging a Charlottesville-style protest this weekend. I cannot see how that benefits anyone, and certainly not a county where more than 80% rejected the alt-right presidential candidate in 2016.

          1. Gadfly*

            Well, although it is really hard to argue there is such a thing as ‘sound evolutionary psychology’… You might be able to argue for valid, as in internally consistent, but sound is much more problematic.

          2. HRKylie*

            My argument against your third point, however, would be that this person sent out a memo to 40,000 employees that was discriminatory against protected classes. The Department of Labor is already investigating Google for discrimination. This makes him a liability. As an HR person, I would recommend firing him to mitigate risk and decrease our liability as a company. So whether he’s a member of the alt-right or no, firing him was the only thing they could do. Him claiming that they fired him because he’s “conservative”, is a ridiculous argument.

          3. Zahra*

            Oh no, firing James D’Amore was absolutely the right move:

            It created the potential for hostile work environment against women, which companies are obligated to prevent.

            Google is under investigation for significant wage discrimination. It cannot afford to look complicit in the eye of the EEOC.

            The fact that he sent it at all says volume about the company culture: sending that memo means that he expected it to be accepted by a good number of colleagues and supervisors. Just that means that the workplace is already very, very toxic. It’s no coincidence that many women at Google decided to look for other jobs if swift and decisive action was not taken: it was a “last straw” (although a “last 2 by 4” would be more accurate) situation.

      1. Misidentified*

        It went downhill after he jumped on the bandwagon of literal murder accusations toward AHCA supporters, and masked it behind the “simple english” bit he’s been doing since Up Goer Five, but this one is at least still good.

          1. Misidentified*

            It was a site banner, not a comic. It asked to vote against it, which is fine. It then said, and I quote, “IT WILL HURT PEOPLE.”

              1. Misidentified*

                We can disagree on the best way to do things without accusing each other of literal murder over it.

                1. Delphine*

                  But, it would have hurt people. Many of them would have died because they wouldn’t be able to access care. These are just facts.

                2. Junior Dev*

                  1) the banner didn’t use the word murder. You’re reading that in.

                  2) if someone else’s “best way to do things” would lead to people dying, what words would you find sufficiently inoffensive to describe that?

                3. The Vulture*

                  Hurt people does not equal murder, no one said murder except you, you don’t even claim he said murder, which presumably was to strengthen an already very weak point, which you further belabor by basically saying “disagreement is okay as long as no one mentions murder” which is funny because YOU’RE THE ONLY ONE MENTIONING MURDER.

                  I’m not one to belabor the literal MEANS literal point because it doesn’t but I find it a little hilarious you’re claiming he is accusing people of “literal murder” when he doesn’t do that at all?…so maybe you’re accusing him of accusing other people of FIGURATIVE MURDER?

                  If you disagree with him saying it will hurt people, you can certainly make that argument without invoking murder, if that is a priority to you, as it seems to be.

                4. Misidentified*

                  This is why I said “masked it behind the “simple english” bit he’s been doing since Up Goer Five” at first. Anyone who reads the comic well enough to be able to call back anything that anyone here has talked about knows that Simple English is a Thing He Does(TM).

                  Maybe I’ve just been unlucky enough to have seen this everywhere and be the subject of it often enough, while nobody else sees it at all.

                  But none of the above really matters anyway, because the base accusation already got backed up twice in this thread alone. It’s becoming clear that this is a sore enough spot, so I’ll drop it.

            1. Yomi*

              The AHCA would have hurt me. In fact Trump’s current threats to pull healthcare company’s payments are causing me to lose my health insurance because the company is dropping my plan (along with 400,000 other people in my state). I have a chronic and incurable disorder that requires daily medication, and I don’t get health insurance through my job.

              So there’s one person, we just need to find one more person who would have been hurt by/is being hurt by the situation and we’ll have “people” and the banner headline will then be factually correct, and not hyperbole or anything else.

              1. Junior Dev*

                Me too! The two of us make “people,” assuming those of us with chronic illnesses count as people.

        1. iseeshiny*

          I didn’t hear about that, but I immediately thought of the fact that his wife is a cancer survivor who would definitely have died without healthcare, so the whole “went downhill” thing is subjective, and the “literal murder” is perhaps not quite as debatable a point as some people would like to believe. His point about free speech is an excellent one, though, I’ll agree.

        2. she was a fast machine*

          Perhaps you should brush up on the definition of literal? I remember(as others have said) him saying that the bill would hurt people, which is true, but it’s a bit of a logical jump to imply he LITERALLY said if you support AHCA you are a murderer.

        3. General Ginger*

          How is “this bill, if made law, will hurt people” masking a murder accusation with simple English? This bill, if made into law, would have hurt people. Saying so isn’t masking a murder accusation.

  1. Gaia*

    “I think that as a society we’ve chosen to treat racism, bigotry, and hate speech as different from normal political discourse, and that smart employers will do the same.”

    100% this. If you attend a rally for Candidate X and I am a huge supporter of Candidate Y I would be wrong to report you to your employer and your employer would be wrong to fire you (except in the instances where Candidate X’s positions are in direct opposition to your employer and your employment involves activism, etc)

    If you attend a rally and participate in hate speech or bigotry it doesn’t really matter what your political leanings are – you’re not a good person and you’re not someone I would want to work with or feel comfortable working with. This goes for all hate speech and bigotry and it is simply not the same as differing political viewpoints.

    1. CM*

      Agreed. It’s different than having, say, differing opinions about the economy or the prison system. I would feel unsafe working with someone who was spending their weekends marching with the KKK.

    2. Specialk9*

      It’s a key distinction. It gets muddled though when politician figures borrow dog whistles from hate groups. Sigh.

    3. High Score!*

      I disagree. I think we’re going down a slippery slope with this. I while heartedly disagree with racists and hate groups, etc.. BUT I believe while heartedly in free speech. We’ve had this actual conversation at my workplace too and my stance is at odds with most here.
      Here’s the important thing though, if those weirdos know their jobs will be on the line for how they act outside of work, they’re not going to change and be better people, they’ll just hide their opinions.
      THEN if they do that HOW will the rest of us know who the degenerates are? I prefer to have them and their opinions out in the open. I almost invited a racist to a party, but he felt comfortable enough to blurt his views and I nodded and walked away, satisfied that I had dodged a bullet.

      1. extra anon today*

        If they’re hiding who they are, then they aren’t committing acts of violence against minorities, so, that seems like a good outcome???

        1. Annabelle*

          As someone who is not infrequently targeted by these groups, it is a good thing if they’re hiding. POC know that racists are all over the place. I had a run in with neo-nazi in 2008. We’ve always know that these people exists. The notion that you won’t see their true colors unless they’re being violent is really flawed.

          1. High Score!*

            If they’re out in the open, they’re easier to arrest. As horrible as the Charlotte thing was, it was all in the open and hopefully those involved will be executed or put away forever. But if they were hiding thru could’ve set a house on fire in the middle of the night, shot some one from a distance and ran and been much harder to catch.

            1. Annabelle*

              I’m not holding my breath for cops to arrest white supremacists. IME, they have to do something truly violent and egregious to actually face any consequences.

              1. Vegan Atheist Weirdo*

                I don’t want to live in a country that will arrest people for their thoughts or beliefs. Hate whoever you want, in your own head/heart. If the people, places or things you’re hating on aren’t being actively harmed by your actions, I support your right to think like an asshole. Do I wish people didn’t have these awful attitudes? Of course! But to say I wish they’d be arrested for them would mean I had to accept the same risk when someone else decides it’s my attitudes that are dangerous.

                This is where the true slippery slope lies; not with individual or public response to speech, but with the desire to encode limitations on belief into law.

                1. Annabelle*

                  Where did I advocate for people getting arrested because of their beliefs? My entire point is that it’s not actually good if people are emboldened to spew hate speech out in the open.

                2. Snark*

                  I’m sympathetic to this viewpoint, because I’m a priveleged white guy who could once hold these things at arm’s length and fret about slippery slopes, but it’s amazing how being married to a queer, immigrant, Jewish Israeli woman who looks Arab, having a son who is by convention a Jew, and having Jewish family I love like siblings and parents wrenches your perspective around.

                  Look: I realize you’re coming at this from a good place. But this is not just people’s opinions. These are not just thoughts and beliefs. This isn’t just thinking like an asshole. There are people in those pictures who, if they felt they could do it and get away with it – hell, even if they knew they’d get caught, would gladly see my entire family killed and count it a victory. Many would pull the trigger. Their beliefs embody and espouse ethnic cleansing and violence. There is a line. They’re over it. There’s no slippery slope we’re at danger of sliding down by opposing these people as mortal enemies.

                3. Delphine*

                  This is beyond thinking like an asshole, and it’s strange that we keep pretending that these things stop at thoughts/speech when a young woman was murdered less than a week ago and when racism, misogyny, homophobia, transphobia, anti-semitism, etc., are institutional.

                4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  I think this is an easy argument to make if you are not persistently a target for the violent behavior that accompanies those philosophies.

                5. Vegan Atheist Weirdo*

                  Putting all this in one reply, as we seem to have hit the nesting limit.

                  Annabelle: I didn’t say you (personally) advocated arresting someone for their beliefs. You said “…IME, they have to do something truly violent and egregious to actually face any consequences.” I agree that for some of these people, the next step from quiet belief is a violent, egregious act. But before they act at all, there is nothing for which they can OR SHOULD be arrested.

                  Snark: I don’t disagree about hate speech being something that needs to be fought. I’m addressing the difference between “arrest[ing] white supremacists” for being white supremacists and arresting people for inciting violence and hatred in public. You said in response to Annabelle that you wouldn’t shy away from advocating that [arresting people because of their beliefs] at all, and I’m surprised you don’t see the irony in that, given the topic.

                  Delphine: I’m not pretending anything. I’m stating that I believe society will face even greater danger if we start locking people up for believing the wrong things. Actions, yes. Ideas, no.

                6. Snark*

                  There’s no irony there. There’s a double standard there, but one I think is eminently defensible.

                7. Backroads*

                  The thing is, my most important views are generally protected by law. I can generally act upon them just fine.

                  Thinking in supremacy terms, however, is not protected by law. Sure, they can peacefully assemble, and if I employed them and felt they made my company look bad, I can fire them.

                8. The Other Katie*

                  This isn’t about thoughts or beliefs anymore. A young woman died last week, and 19 others were injured, while engaging in her own right to free speech – in her case, without the violent accoutrements of tiki torches and openly carried long guns.

              2. JamieS*

                I’m not going to defend the white supremacists because I find their views indefensible. That being said if they’re just marching and shouting something like “white power!” (not violent, didn’t destroy property, aren’t shouting death threat, etc.) what crime is committed?

                1. JamieS*

                  No I’m not defending white supremacists. However I recognize arresting someone for what is said is government interference and the first amendment doesn’t just apply to speech the masses considers acceptable. If it did the 1st amendment would be a moot point.

                  You can consider what they say a “violent phrase” but does it violate the law?

                2. Anon today...and tomorrow*

                  My mother taught me and I am teaching my children that if you start a sentence with “I’m not” and then add a BUT…you are indeed doing what you said you were not doing. JamieS you are defending them. You may not think you are but I can assure you, you are. And for the record, the answer is no crime is committed by screaming “white power” just like no crime would be committed when the screamers got the sack from their employer when it was discovered that it had happened. Free speech means the government can’t stop you, it doesn’t keep your job safe – and in these times I really hope a lot of employers are scanning those photos from this weekend and making some personnel changes!

                3. Bertha*

                  No crime is committed, because hate speech is protected by the 1st amendment. Heck, the ACLU has defended the KKK in court before. There are exceptions, of course, but every single person at the rally would have been arrested if hate speech were illegal.

                4. JamieS*

                  Anon, in this case you and your mother are wrong. Pointing out you can’t arrest someone who didn’t break the law isn’t defending the activity. There are dozens of things that are legal that I don’t support and find morally reprehensible. That doesn’t mean people who engage in those activities should be arrested based on my moral outrage.

                  No the speech isn’t illegal unless it poses an imminent threat. We’re not talking about what private citizens can do (ie employers firing racists) or the morality of participating in hate marches. We’re talking about whether or not the law is being broken by marching.

                5. Nephron*

                  No one has claimed laws were broken by marching. It was the assaults that were criminal.

                  And you can be fired for things that are not illegal if your employer does not like what you are doing because it can harm their business.

                  White power is not an innocent phrase, just as the Nazi or confederate flag are not just flags. They all exist in a context that are associated with some very violent groups that targeted specific groups.

                6. JamieS*

                  Nephron, yes some people are saying those who committed no crime should be arrested.

                  I DID NOT say “white power” is an innocent phrase. That doesn’t mean it’s illegal to say it. The Confederate flag also isn’t innocent but it’s not illegal to own one and wave it around.

                7. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

                  Those of you who are attacking JamieS for “defending white supremacists” by arguing they have First Amendment rights need to go back to law school. The Supreme Court decided this issue ages ago when it invalidated a ban that Skokie, Illinois, had placed on a march by Nazis.

                  Asserting that someone a right to free speech in no way endorses that speech. Arguments to the contrary utterly vitiate the First Amendment. And hopping up and down on one knee while shouting “but, privilege!” is not a rebuttal to this point. (And seriously, don’t you think that the Black Lives Matter movement would be the first target of laws like this?)

              3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                I’m with Annabelle on this 1000%.

                And I think it’s important to remember that Charlottesville was not a “nonviolent” protest. People were dressed in low-grade “armor,” and carrying metal pipes and torches and mace. And they used it against counter-protestors without any provocation other than the fact that people were counter-protesting.

                1. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

                  What assertion of Annabelle’s, exactly, do you endorse?
                  I know of no free speech advocate who would say that the government cannot arrest people for violent behavior.

                2. Grace*

                  But the permit for the protest was granted. If no one had shown up to protest the white supremacists and no media had covered them how much violence would have occurred?

                3. Falling Diphthong*

                  @Grace:

                  “There are Nazis marching in the street!”
                  “Don’t look at them. It just encourages them.”
                  “They have torches, and they’re chanting about not letting the Jews replace them!”
                  “Stay inside. If no one looks at them, or goes outside, or does anything to draw their attention, then it will be fine.”
                  “They just killed someone!”
                  “Yeah, someone who went outside!”

                  80 years later, I cannot believe we are still having this conversation.

            2. Optimistic Prime*

              It would be better if they didn’t do anything worth arresting them over, because that implies they hurt someone.

        2. KS*

          “If they’re hiding who they are, then they aren’t committing acts of violence against minorities, so, that seems like a good outcome???” Sorry, what? This…doesn’t follow. Most criminals do indeed try to avoid being identified/caught? o.O

          1. CMart*

            If society has deemed “who you are” to be a shameful thing, then you do what you can to hide it. You don’t say things about that identity to your coworkers, you don’t participate in activities that would identify you was that thing. You only are who you “truly are” in private.

            For some things, that’s horrible. It was and still often is the reality for a lot of marginalized groups (eg: LGBT). For other things, that’s a great thing. I want Uncle Dittohead to feel like his racist views aren’t accepted. I want him to be afraid to say certain things at Thanksgiving. I want him to be afraid to attend rallies because of the intense public scrutiny and backlash that might befall him. I want him to be afraid of losing his job if his boss finds out he thinks XYZ people are inferior.

            If you’re hiding who you are, you aren’t acting out on those things. It’s a good outcome when it comes to racism, hate, and bigotry.

            1. High Score!*

              These people will act out either in public or private. I’d rather they be overconfident and easier to catch than paranoid and sneaky bc of they’re sneaky, there’s a higher likelihood of them hurting more people.

              1. Queen of the File*

                I’m not sure this is true. I feel like there are many people who could be swayed to inaction or action based on how socially shunned other people who hold their views are.

              2. aebhel*

                Not really. When bigots have their views publicly legitimized, that encourages them. They feel more confident that they will get away with mistreating the targets of their bigotry, because look, OBVIOUSLY, everybody feels this way. You think that LGBT people are worse off now that it’s generally unacceptable to call us disgusting perverts in public? Because I sure don’t. Sure, there are people who still privately think we’re disgusting perverts, but they’re much less confident acting on it, because they’re much less confident that they’ll have the support of their community behind them if they do. That’s a good thing. Making certain behavior socially unacceptable in the public sphere does in fact cut down on instances of that behavior.

              3. Natalie*

                If you have a strong stomach, you might consider looking into the phenomenon of lynching postcards, which were not uncommon during the nadir period in American race relations (late 1800s-1920s or so). We often think of lynch mobs as an anonymous group of people operating under cover of night, but that was often not the case. People were lynched in broad daylight, in the town square, with the majority of the local (white) population treating it like a picnic. The crowds posed for photos, faces perfectly visible, and had these printed up as postcards and sent to friends and relatives in other towns.

                None of this extremely public acting out made a whit of difference when it came to prosecuting those responsible.

              4. CMart*

                idk, I think “acting out in private” is heavily weighed in favor over “acting out in public.” I’d rather James Field have ranted to a buddy in his basement about the way the neighborhood is going instead of driving his car into a bunch of people, personally.

              5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                I don’t think there’s any evidence—empirical or otherwise—that backs up the argument you’re making. There are plenty of people who harbor white supremacist beliefs and are non-violent. There are plenty of people who harbor those beliefs and are violent.

                Generally speaking, making it “ok” to be openly white supremacist does not make it easier to identify and isolate those folks. It makes other privately white supremacist people feel comfortable being super open about their feelings. And all of that, cumulatively, makes the world awful for literally everyone who is not a white supremacist (which, thankfully in this country, is a majority of white people and a hypermajority of POC).

                The “openness” of their beliefs does not make them “easier to catch.” There’s no sneaky way to commit hate violence against another person. And the “private” sneakiness you’re describing is usually not violent and at least means that I can walk down the street without having to hear all the vile things in someone’s head. If someone wants to keep an American Beauty-style collection of Nazi memorabilia, I think it’s vile, but I can live with it. If they want to march down streets with torches, reinvoking the imagery of lynching and white power, and beating people, then I cannot live with it. I think this is pretty obvious.

                1. Annabelle*

                  This is essentially what I was trying to say. I find privately held white supremacist beliefs just as repugnant, but at least you’re not spitting on me while I walk down the street.

                  I think people who claim that it’s better for racists to be open about their beliefs are usually coming from a place of privilege. But for POC – and also queer and trans folks – Nazis remaining stigmatized is actually a lot safe than normalizing them.

                2. Elizabeth West*

                  Generally speaking, making it “ok” to be openly white supremacist does not make it easier to identify and isolate those folks. It makes other privately white supremacist people feel comfortable being super open about their feelings.

                  This is exactly what Trump’s failure to denounce them has done. I’ve been on Twitter nearly all day and they are actually saying he has given them a green light to do whatever they want.

                  I want to leave here so badly. It’s too red. It will never change. I’ve never felt more desperate to escape.

                3. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

                  “Generally speaking, making it “ok” to be openly white supremacist does not make it easier to identify and isolate those folks. ”

                  Of course it does. How do you think that domestic intelligence agencies are able to disrupt terrorist plots?

                4. Specialk9*

                  Elizabeth West “I want to leave here so badly. It’s too red. It will never change. I’ve never felt more desperate to escape.”

                  I wake up most days with this feeling.

              6. Falling Diphthong*

                While people love their centuries-long-secret-conspiracy fiction, in actuality what happens is that the people who begrudgingly hide their feelings in public and talk in code have children and then grandchildren who aren’t doing the double meaning eyebrows when they talk about… not being Nazis. Or whatever thing has become impolitic to mention in polite company.

                It’s how social change works. What’s itchy and awkward on the first generation is the way normal people talk after a few decades.

                1. Cedrus Libani*

                  Agreed. I’m from old Confederate stock; the generational shift is real, and it’s caused by social pressure. Stuff my grandma would say out loud…she was an intelligent, moral woman who grew up on a share-cropped former plantation, and never quite lost the idea that blacks were talking farm equipment instead of people…is stuff the next generation would look over their shoulders before saying. And some of it is still rattling around in my generation’s heads, except you’d have to waterboard us before we admit it to our kids’ generation, some of whom aren’t 100% Aryan. They’ll know it’s out there, somewhere. With luck, their kids will read about it in history books and scratch their heads.

                  I just got back from a family reunion in Tennessee. One of the elders, on the first day, decided to comment on how “refreshing” it was to see all the Confederate flags there. He got side-eyed so hard by everyone under 40 that, mercifully, we did not have to have this conversation again. Shaming; it works.

        3. Artemesia*

          I have never understood the argument that we are better off if people are ‘open and honest about their racism’ or whatever. A secret sexist may hamper my career but an open one also emboldens those on the border and makes the lives of women miserable. A secret racist is not a good thing, but it sure beats having someone making nasty remarks to minorities, openly opposing their hiring or promotions, and assaulting them.

          There is a lot to be said for hypocricy when it means reining in one’s bigotry and a lot to be said for ‘pc’ when it means not insulting people.

          1. Annabelle*

            This is a really important distinction. We are so incredibly far from eradicating racism. It’s not going anywhere any time soon. In the meantime, I would feel a lot safe if Neo-Nazis felt compelled to hide their beliefs for fear of the consequences.

          2. Book Lover*

            When people are open in their racism and sexism and antisemitism, it demonstrates that behavior to children. When political leaders act like being a Nazi is a reasonable alternative viewpoint, it destigmatizes and increases that behavior.

            When people hide it, kids get to not see it and not be infected about it.

            I have been talking to my son about the Holocaust but did not appreciate having to tell him about a group of Nazis marching openly in the US in 2017.

          3. she was a fast machine*

            I think this political circus and the sudden jump in Islamophoic, Sexist, and generally racist/xenophoic acts is proof enough that people who secretly felt this way were waiting to openly act on it until it was socially appropriate.

          4. cereal killer*

            While that will make the here and now more pleasant, it does nothing to move us (society) towards a solution. I can’t speak personally about racism but have experienced both types of sexism in my work life. The open and honest (was not particularly egregious but as the only woman in ear shot I got roped into it) was something I could respond to, make my point about and move on or report if it was bad. There was proof. And if nothing else it alerted me to people I would prefer to avoid. The secret sexism is what formed a system that I could not conquer, was difficult to prove, difficult to fight against, and demoralizing.

            I can understand minorities being downright tired of hearing comments or just hopeful to not hear threats of violence (and violence adds a whole other level), especially these days. But I don’t think just pushing hate to the back corners is going to solve anything.

            1. Creag an Tuire*

              Except the original argument was that firing racists and misogynists will simply cause them to become closeted racists and misogynists, and we should have them in the open. …but what’s the point of having them out in the open if you can’t or won’t punish them for those views?

              1. Ego Chamber*

                Bingo. I’ve worked at many employers that had racist/sexist/homophobic/bigotry du jour opinions on display, and I’ve left every single one quickly and quietly after they got comfortable enough with me to state their opinion(s), because none of those workplaces had a functioning system for changing any of those things. (I’m a cisgender white woman in what presents as a heterosexual relationship, living in a red state, and I am not immediately assumed to be an enemy by these people.)

                Fighting for good is important, but so is paying my bills, and I learned after the first time that getting out on my own terms was a better solution—for me, personally, because I’m selfish like that—than getting fired suddenly and not having money to cover it.

      2. N.J.*

        But by your reasoning, you appreciated the right that you had to decline inviting a racist individual to a party you were hosting or attending. Which means that you made a conscious decision to assign a consequence to this person’s speech, the consequence of social rejection. This person engaged in his or her own free speech and you engaged in your own free will of making a decision to “punish” that person is org a concrete consequence. Companies have the same right to do just as you did and assign consequences to their employees engaging in hateful speech, exercising free speech or not. Yes, some racists will hide themselves if they think they will lose their jobs, but deciding their shouldn’t be consequences for them behaving openly racist isn’t the answer. Hidden or not, a racist is a racist, the more consequences the better.

      3. BPT*

        I don’t think the goal has to be to change racists minds. If they do, wonderful. But the goal is to make it so unacceptable to say these things in society that they have to go hide their views. It really doesn’t matter to me if my coworker is a genuinely good person – it matters if I’m scared to be around them, if they advocate for violence, if they outwardly treat people differently in any way. If they don’t actively say that they’re a racist, you can still address issues you see such as unethical hiring practices should it ever come up.

        I’m not worried about individuals being better people. I’m worried about society as a whole clamping down on these ideas and making them shameful to ever espouse. The fact that Nazis and KKK this weekend went without hoods means we’ve taken a big step back in society.

        1. Snark*

          “I don’t think the goal has to be to change racists minds. If they do, wonderful. But the goal is to make it so unacceptable to say these things in society that they have to go hide their views.”

          This is where I’m at. It’s not a difference of views or opinions. It’s a fundamental difference in worldview, morals, and how you move through society. If they want to rejoin sane humanity, that’s great, but I don’t think we need to waste much energy making them feel heard or coddling their fragility.

        2. blackcat*

          Virginia (along with several states) has a law outlawing adults wearing masks to hide their identity in public. So covering up would have gotten them arrested. Otherwise, I do think we would have seen hoods.

          1. BPT*

            I’m not sure the point of this comment. They certainly created violence that was illegal, so it’s not like that was a huge barrier for them. But the thing is, even if the law was the reason, they knew they couldn’t wear hoods. They went and participated anyway. Anyone who had any reservations about what they were advocating wouldn’t have gone out in public like this without the option of wearing a mask.

            The fact that they couldn’t wear masks and still participated is just as bad. There’s literally no difference.

            1. Specialk9*

              The comment was originally in response to someone saying that they didn’t even wear hoods. Blackcat was pointing out that that would have been illegal. The alt right was careful, at least originally, to stay technically legal. It wasn’t a value statement about racism, just volunteering info about state specific laws.

        3. High Score!*

          Sadly, the only way we can evolve and improve ourselves and our society is to figure out how to stop this, and it has to stop from within the perpetrators. I admit I do not have the answer. I do question people when I hear this stuff in hopes that they think about it. I also know I don’t want to lose my free speech bc of some groups abuse of it.

          1. BPT*

            The first amendment is still as intact as it ever was. But for people talking about the concept of “free speech” as being more than the fact that the government can’t infringe upon your right to say things, what exactly do you want as the outcome? Do you want workplaces to be required to keep Nazis on the payroll when they advocate for free speech? Am I supposed to be required to give my time and attention to people espousing racist or sexist views? Are they owed a platform? Do we need to “hear out both sides?”

            My answer is obviously unequivocally no. Your right to free speech is not going away. But there will always remain consequences for it.

            1. High Score!*

              Sooo say people start reporting members of hate groups to their employers and they get fired and we’re all happy bc we don’t have to work with them anymore. Yay!
              THEN someone reports another employee for being a member of a mildly offensive but harmless group… how should HR evaluate this, what’s over the line? Where do we draw the line? Maybe something you do in your spare time would offend a co-worker or manager. How do we define that line in legal terms?
              Already we have issues. Should the Christians have to bake a gay wedding cake? Should the liberals have to bake a MAGA cake? I hope NOT because I want to open a bakery now and bake all these cakes for everyone and make all the money myself!
              Seriously, there’s so many slippery slopes. What happens when the aquarium supplier discovers one of their employees is *gasp* fishing in their spare time with the hateful group called “fishing with friends”?

              1. Bird*

                I don’t understand this comment. What does a hypothetical scenario about fishing have to do with firing literal Nazis?

              2. General Ginger*

                What does any of this have to do with literal Nazis? Nazis are not a “mildly offensive but harmless group” going “fishing with friends”.

                1. Snark*

                  And if you go fishing with Nazis, I’m cool with you getting fired, hnstly.

                  We really don’t have an issue here. There’s some gray area on each side of the line, but once we’re talking about literal Nazis marching and killing people, the line is miles behind and not worth discussing at length.

                1. Snark*

                  It’s really that simple. Wherever the line is, it’s not anywhere close to the guys Indy punched a lot. Case closed.

                2. Katie the Fed*

                  Right? I am out of patience for clever slippery slope arguments. This is pretty simple.

                3. Sylvan (Sylvia)*

                  Yep. It’s not that hard.

                  I’m tired of “slippery slope” commentary about this. The slippery slope is a logical fallacy. People are naming their logical fallacy as they make an argument that hinges on it, while defending the rights of actual Nazis. This is beyond stupid.

                4. Specialk9*

                  Sylvan “The slippery slope is a logical fallacy. People are naming their logical fallacy as they make an argument that hinges on it, while defending the rights of actual Nazis. This is beyond stupid.”

                  Oh. I didn’t know that. So “slippery slope” is a rhetorical fallacy, a logical weakness or manipulation, like a strawman? I really should read up on rhetoric.

              3. BPT*

                …The line is already defined in legal terms. You can fire anyone except for reasons relating to protected classes. Someone can already be fired for non-offensive actions. There’s nothing illegal about it now.

                We draw lines in society all the time. We don’t have to live under the threat of a “slippery slope fallacy.” Society as a whole should be able to draw a line between racism, sexism, etc without worrying about the rights of fishermen being impeded. If we stick to the slippery slope fallacy then why ever draw lines at all? Society has to draw a line at some point. I’m very content with that being at people who want to eradicate members of the human race. If we ever get to the point where it slips to bowlers being discriminated against because their boss doesn’t like bowling, then I’ll be happy to speak up then.

              4. Ayah Setel*

                There is no moral equivalence between hate speech and the incitement to violence it espouses and any of the other examples you gave. Remember how “you can’t yell fire in a crowded theater?” Same thing. Hate speech puts people in serious danger of being injured or killed.
                Just because your office Nazi doesn’t say anything out loud in the workplace, do you really think they are not expressing their views in a hundred different ways? They don’t hire, deny bonuses and promotions to, and generally make life miserable for POC, LGBTQ, Jewish, Muslim etc. people. If that idiot is stupid enough to show their face on national TV making their viewpoints clear, then yes, they deserved to fired – because whether you see it or not, that’s also what they’re doing in the workplace, and that’s not good for anyone.

              5. Anon today...and tomorrow*

                I don’t even know where to start with how wrong your question is. Nazis and the KKK are not “mildly offensive and harmless”. They are NAZIS AND THE KKK. Seriously. How is this even comparable to any other group out there? I can literally think of no other group of people that I would immediately, 100% support firing an employee for. You want religion in your life? Go for it. You’re gay/straight/bi-sexual/transgender/asexual/pansexual? Cool. You want to eat plants that have only fallen from the tree already or only eat big game meat? Live it up. You want to be involved in a group that there was a literal World War to stop them from killing millions of people? Yeah…that’s the freakin’ line. It’s not a slippery slope. There’s no slope. There’s no slide. This isn’t a playground. This is the state of the world right now, in this moment. It’s not about Free Speech. It’s hate speech and it’s abhorrent and needs to be stopped. If that means somebody loses their job over it, then that’s a good start.

              6. Jadelyn*

                The line is this: does your belief system advocate harm to another group of people? If so, it is over the line and is unacceptable. If it’s just distasteful to me personally but not harming anyone, it’s not over the line and it would be bizarre of me to report you for it.

                I…honestly don’t get how it’s unclear to people what the difference is. It’s not about distasteful beliefs or not liking someone’s politics. It’s about stuff that actively tries to get other people killed.

                And if we can’t unanimously agree that that’s a Bad Thing…then that by itself is the clearest red flag that shit has gone Wrong.

              7. JamieS*

                As far as public consequences (ie being fired) I don’t think there’s a slippery slope because as it stands in most places in the US an employer can already fire an employee for all the things you mentioned and some things that are even less egregious.

          2. aebhel*

            I don’t think this is a free speech issue. I don’t believe these jerks should be arrested (other than, you know, the ones who actually committed violent crimes) and I would strongly oppose any efforts to outlaw their speech. But one person’s right to free speech does not trump another person’s right to free association; that is, my employee has a perfect legal right to grab a swastika armband and go marching; I have a perfect legal right to decide that I don’t want my company associated with people who go out in public wearing swastika armbands.

            As a philosophical issue, I generally oppose firing people for what they do outside of the workplace, but I’m willing to make exceptions for cases of egregious misbehavior.

          3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            I don’t mean to be rude, but based on your comments, I don’t think you understand how “free speech” works in the legal sense, nor do I find the slippery slope argument compelling. The right to free speech is about citizens’ relationships with the government, not with private employers. And it doesn’t protect violent riots, like the one hosted in Charlottesville under the guise of a “rally.”

            And I really think it’s worth evaluating what it means to defend the right of neo-Nazis and the KKK to violently attack innocent people who were exercising their free speech rights. Or to keep their jobs. I think you’re misrepresenting what happened to create a moral/ethical quandary over something that is pretty straightforward. There are many kinds of odious speech that toe the line—this was not one of those occurrences.

            1. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

              “The right to free speech is about citizens’ relationships with the government, not with private employers.”

              As I would hope you are aware, this is not necessarily true in California, which has a statute expressly protecting employee political activity. The recent James Danmore controversy potentially implicates that statute. (Some people have argued that the statute only protects employees running for political office, although I find that argument perplexing under the plain language of the statute.)

      4. 1.0*

        well, for one thing, maybe those of us they want to violently murder won’t have to hear about their views, or have “is 1.0 a real person? Should they be allowed to exist in the world, or should they be murdered for being subhuman trash?” treated as a reasonable question worthy of debate and consideration, which frankly would be really nice.

        1. Snark*

          Yeah, my bisexual, Jewish, noncitizen immigrant spouse would kind of like to spend the mornings drinking coffee and maybe taking a hike, rather than devoting 45 minutes to intensive daily krav maga practice as she’s been doing since November.

              1. Annie Mouse*

                Krav is awesome, I’ve started classes lately and it is so much fun but also so much pain after a session!!

              1. she was a fast machine*

                ♥_♥ (dating myself here!) But only if you also happened to live near the middle of nowhere, USA, in which case I also feel sorry for you (my SO and I are in an open/quasi poly relationship and it is HELL finding others who are similarly minded and not a 2+ hour drive away).

                1. Snark*

                  Yeah, it’s sort of “open/quasi” by default for us, because we typically don’t have opportunities for relationships per se. Getting waaaaay off topic here, tho.

      5. Trout 'Waver*

        The problem is that the white supremacists begin to view their stance as one of many acceptable stances, when in reality it is the exact opposite.

        Having a mixing pot of different cultures, values, viewpoints, and perspectives only works if we all agree that people with different cultures, values, viewpoints, and perspectives have value. White supremacists and those associated with them have preempted the discussion by insisting that only they and those like them have value.

        1. Gaia*

          Yep. Let’s not lump them in with other acceptable opinions. Hate is not an acceptable point of view.

        2. Ayah Setel*

          Perfect. People forget that just because an opposing view exists doesn’t mean there is any moral equivalency between the two sides. Sometimes someone is just flat out wrong in their “alternative facts.”

      6. LawBee*

        Hate speech is protected under the first amendment. As recently as last June, SCOTUS reminded us that even though what they say is repugnant, they still have a right to say it. That’s where you and I agree.

        Where we disagree is whether or not I, as an employer, can fire someone (say, DR, the initials of a particularly disgusting racist of my acquintance) who publicly espouses morally repugnant views. And yeah, I can. It doesn’t keep DR from spouting off whenever he wants to. If DR is afraid he’ll lose his job because of his Nazi sympathies, then I shrug. I don’t care as a person, and as an employer, the LAST thing I want is future clients coming across DR with his Confederate flag and armband and then seeing his face on my webpage. I also don’t want people who are known child abusers, or the person who stands on the street corner proselytizing for what-have-you, or the guy who’s been arrested seventeen times for giving cops the finger. Moral question aside, it hurts my brand and has a direct negative impact on my bottom line. Thus, at a purely business level – fired. So very fired.

        Which has ZERO impact on DR’s freedom of speech.

      7. emw*

        You have the right to free speech. That doesn’t mean you’re protected from the consequences of your choices to participate in it.

        1. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

          Lovely argument. So, in your view, Vladimir Putin was justified in arresting Pussy Riot because those were the “consequences” of Pussy Riot’s choice to engage in performance art?

          1. Falling Diphthong*

            ????? Free speech is enshrined in the US constitution. Going to other countries and trying to claim the US constitution applies to you there is naive dumb.

            1. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

              I see nothing in the general principle that emw enunciated that limits it to the US.

              Under emw’s rule, the government could legitimately criminalize to free speech, because, y’know, that’s a “consequence” of your choice to speak.

              1. Morning Glory*

                I think you deliberately are twisting what emw meant, seeing at this blog post is about white supremacists being fired, not arrested.

                Government interference is the only thing the first amendment actually does protect against, which I know that you know that emw knows… so it feels like you wanted more to seize upon sloppy wording to argue semantics than to actually discuss the issue.

                1. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

                  From the beginning: we’re arguing whether firing employees on the basis of political views is justified. emw argues that it is, because “there are consequences to free speech.”

                  Trouble is, that *same principle* justifies arresting people for free speech. The government doesn’t physically stop your performance art in Christ the Saviour Cathedral (or St. John’s in New York, for the real pedants), it just treats you to the *consequences* of your speech, which in this case are a stay in the Ust-Izhma Hilton.

                  If the application of the principle horrifies you in the government context, perhaps it also ought to horrify you in the private sector context. The argument that the First Amendment is in applicable to private businesses is one of the extent of government power, not “consequences.”

                2. Falling Diphthong*

                  We’re arguing whether it is justified in the US, which is where this is happening. And whether it is justified in the legal sense, rather than according to some abstract framework like What Should Daleks Do?

                3. Specialk9*

                  Morning Glory – that is exactly what Semi-Constitutiinal Lawyer, and others here, are doing. Oh, you didn’t word this comment with 100% precision, I’m going to accuse you of saying something wildly different than you were actually saying. Oh fun.

          2. SignalLost*

            Well, since that’s definitionally the government curtailing a citizens right to free speech … no.

      8. ReallyNeedToGetBackToWork*

        I see where you’re coming from with the concern about a slippery slope, and have wrestled with this myself. For example, if you show up in photos of a gay pride parade, and your boss is vehemently anti-gay, then what? The US government seeks to protect you. And that, to me, is great. Here, I want the jerk-wads fired. So here’s where I’ve come to with it: constitutionally protected rights basically form a treaty. We all agree to live and let live, in order for a “more perfect union” — union being the operative word. If someone chooses to advocate violence, or stripping rights from another, or segregation, etc, then they have violated the agreement and are no longer protected by it. If I show up at a gay pride rally, I’m not in any way infringing on or threatening another’s life/freedom/safety. If I show up and advocate violence against a specific person or group, I am doing so, and therefore now exist outside the agreed framework. So in a workplace the question to ask is whether someone’s speech/actions might implicate you or your business in such a constitutional violation. If so, then you are protecting yourself by firing them. If not, then you’re reacting unreasonably (e.g. by firing LGBT people who don’t threaten/harm you in any way, no matter your feelings on them). To me, that’s a very clear distinction.

        1. Two sides*

          So let me ask you: are you in favor of the firing of ALL participants in Charlottesville? Both the ones who you define as a hate group AND the counter protesters? Because, end of the day it was BOTH sides at fault. It was not just mean old white supremacists beating up defenseless, pacifist counter protesters. Not that you would know from OUR media coverage. But check out the BBC. Some cementhead made a “nazi” salute, and the name itself is a misnomer as MANY governments used that salute prior to the fascists but I digress. The pictures show a counter protester belting him. Should the guy who hit him be fired for his violence, or just those who have views that you or
          I find morally repugnant.

          Bottom line, i say fire people for their actions, not their thoughts. Or else fire EVERYONE identified on BOTH sides of the violence because it was not one sided. Had EITHER side been there without the other present, I imagine Saturday would have turned out MUCH differently.

          1. Jessie the First (or second)*

            Ah, the “many sides” argument.

            The argument that resisting Nazis is just as bad as being a Nazi.

            To which I say, no. Not at all. Not in this lifetime, not in any lifetime.

            And for the record, yeah, I’ve checked out the BBC. Listen to it every day on the way to work. And you know what the BBC was covering Monday morning? The Nazi violence and the murder by a Nazi of a counter-protester. And the group of Nazis beating a black man.

            I CANNOT BELIEVE I am seeing a “but people who resist Nazis are just as bad” post here.

            1. JenM*

              +1000 there was a time when resisting Nazis was something to be proud of. Now we actually have people saying those that do are just as bad! WTF?!

            2. Sylvan (Sylvia)*

              The argument that resisting Nazis is just as bad as being a Nazi.

              I can’t believe this conversation is happening. On this site, in real life, just in general.

              No, guys, people who oppose racists are not just as bad as racists.

            3. Falling Diphthong*

              Jessie the First, I am jabbing hard at the space where there should be a ‘like’ button.

              Like Sylvan, I cannot believe that we are having a discussion about whether opposing Nazism is just as bad as espousing Nazism.

            4. chilleh*

              Thank you so much for this comment. This whole devil’s advocacy and defense for Nazi beliefs just boggles the mind.

            5. Specialk9*

              In fact, let’s be really clear here:

              GOOD PATRIOTS RESIST NAZIS.

              Any questions? No? Good.

          2. Charlie Bradbury's Girlfriend*

            The white supremacists were armed to the teeth with semi-automatic rifles. One of them killed a women with his car. So no, both sides were not equal contributors to the violence.

          3. siobhan*

            It’s not a “misnomer” to call that gesture a Nazi salute. That is so disingenuous. It’s the meaning that gesture has in our current society and it’s the meaning that people in our society intend by it, especially in the context of an alt-right rally.

          4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

            If you are going to argue that some counterprotestors engaged in violence (e.g., when a Nazi maced or started beating them), or that a “Sieg Heil” style salute is ok because it has other non-Nazi historic context, then I honestly don’t know what to say to you.

            Because these are not equivalent behaviors, political attitudes, or conduct, and your desire to somehow make them equivalent is really frustrating. You can talk media bias as much as you like, but one side was overwhelmingly violent towards the other side, and you cannot pretend that they were the same. You can read literally any newspaper that adheres to journalistic standards, including the BBC or whatnot, and they will tell you that the violence is overwhelmingly one-sided. Hospital records will tell you it was overwhelmingly one-sided. Video will tell you it was overwhelmingly one-sided. So interjecting with “but the counterprotestors did it too at the same level of badness and at the same frequency!” is not just intellectually dishonest, it’s factually false.

            There is no equivalence in the scale of violence or participation in violence between Nazis and counter-protestors. And advocating against Nazism is not morally repugnant or a rending of our union, as ReallyNeedToGoBackToWork has described it.

            People are not being punished for the thoughts in their heads. And I’d really like you to think about that last line. You think only one side gets to have free speech at a time? That doesn’t sound particularly pro-free-speech or pro-free-association at all. It sounds like you think each side gets to take a turn because they’re somehow equally valid.

            And it would have been “MUCH” different? Why? Because I’ve lived in places where the KKK still march annually, including ones where they march at night with torches and there’s no counterprotest, and it doesn’t turn out much differently. The way you’ve represented what happened, and your line of argumentation, is despicable.

            1. Perse's Mom*

              Not nearly enough “FAKE NEWS” or “tremendous” in that post for it to be him. Maybe one of his interns.

          5. Snark*

            “So let me ask you: are you in favor of the firing of ALL participants in Charlottesville? Both the ones who you define as a hate group AND the counter protesters? Because, end of the day it was BOTH sides at fault.”

            No. The Nazis came to Charlottesville and intimidated people, surrounded churches, marched chanting on majority-black neighborhoods, marched with torches, ran over 20 people and killed one, and royally pissed off the residents. Counterprotests arose as a direct result of all that, and if a few Nazis got beat on, well, there is a dignity in consequences.

            Nobody but the Nazis are at fault, and if they’d just stayed home, Charlottesville would just be another little college town starting another academic year.

          6. Sylvan (Sylvia)*

            I am fairly comfortable saying that the people at fault for what happened at the racist rally in Charlottesville are the racists.

            It wasn’t an anti-racist activist, BLM supporter, antifa, or whoever’s supposed to be too ~extreme~ in counter-protesting racists now, behind the wheel. Nor was it any of them beating a young man with poles in the police parking deck, apparently unnoticed or ignored by police.

          7. Optimistic Prime*

            Because, end of the day it was BOTH sides at fault.

            No, no dude, it’s not. You’re not at fault when you resist against people who literally want you wiped off the face of the planet.

          8. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

            It absolutely was NOT “both sides” at fault. “Both sides” did not commit acts of domestic terrorism. The white supremacists did.

          9. Dot Warner*

            One side was protesting because they think minorities, gays, and Jews aren’t really humans. The other side was protesting because they oppose that idea. If you really can’t understand that they’re not morally equivalent, then… I truly don’t know what to say to you.

        2. Cedrus Libani*

          I think I’ve come to a similar conclusion. I’m prepared to treat some basic elements of the social compact as above discussion; human beings have equal dignity, period, and disagreements with that premise are not valid and deserve to be shouted down (and/or get the culprit fired). You can’t have a reasoned discussion about whether group X qualifies for human rights. Either we all do, or no one does.

        3. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

          “I see where you’re coming from with the concern about a slippery slope, and have wrestled with this myself. For example, if you show up in photos of a gay pride parade, and your boss is vehemently anti-gay, then what?… Here, I want the jerk-wads fired”

          Do you seriously think that this “fire ’em for marching” stance won’t be applied against the least politically popular causes? Should people have been fired for participating, as I did, in the Women’s March just before Inauguration Day?

      9. Natalie*

        I find this entire argument to be rather circular. We shouldn’t shun bigots because otherwise they’ll hide their bigotry to avoid shunning. It’s better if they’re out in the open, because then we’ll know they’re bigots.

        But what are we doing with that knowledge? Apparently declining to employ them or befriend them is bad, because then they’ll hide, and it’s very important we know who they are, because… and around and around we go.

        1. Two sides*

          I hope the irony of what you wrote is apparent to you. To fire someone for the simple reason that they hold an opinion other than yours is also bigotry and by your logic reason for you to be fire for being a bigot.

          1. Natalie*

            No. Just no. Don’t bring this “tolerate my intolerance” crap in here. This isn’t middle school.

          2. Jessica*

            No, because intolerance is not a moral virtue and is destructive to society. That’s why we don’t tolerate it. Bigotry is wrong. Refusing to tolerate bigotry is fighting a known social ill.

          3. ReallyNeedToGetBackToWork*

            False equivalency is just moronic. Sure, there are “two sides” and sometimes — as here — one side is morally wrong. More than morally, however — they are advocating violent expulsion of citizens of this country. They are proposing constitutional violations — using violence if necessary — and therefore do not get to hide behind that same constitution. Period.

            And as for whether it was “right” for a counter protestor to hit a nazi — if we were talking to third graders then I’d say “no, no, you never hit, use your words, and violence is never ok.” Fine. He’s a bad boy. Book him for assault. But was he actively campaigning on a platform historically used to justify lynchings and genocide? No he was not. He is not equivalent in any way shape or form to the guy doing a nazi salute.

            And then you’re trying to whitewash the nazi salute — it’s innocent because someone else used it in the past? Please. And I suppose when you see a rainbow flag you assume it’s a reference to the Wizard of Oz? Once it became the salute of the Nazis, it became the Nazi salute. Done. For all time.

            No one is suggesting firing someone for “the simple reason that they hold an opinion” — they are suggesting firing them for being party to a group which espouses violent assault on 40% of the US population. And in fact at the top of the thread, people started this by asking, hm, when does it cross the line from being “simply holding an opinion” over into a fire-able offense. And you’re saying “never.” Now, that’s your opinion, and I would NOT advocate firing you for it. I wouldn’t invite you to dinner, but I wouldn’t fire you. You could even decorate your house with swastika’s and I’d defend your right to do so, even while I would find you loathsome. But as soon as you pick up one of your swastika flags to join in a march that explicitly calls for blacks/jews/gays to be targets of violence — out you go. Do you see a line?

            1. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

              “Sure, there are “two sides” and sometimes — as here — one side is morally wrong.”

              But what happens when your political opponent gets into power, and the state suddenly believes that the side that you view as “morally wrong” is, in fact, “morally right”? (The US president would never, ever endorse morally wrong beliefs, surely.)

              Seems to me that you would be clinging to your moral argument in a squalid gulag somewhere.

              That is what the First Amendment exists to stop.

          4. Optimistic Prime*

            It is not bigotry to fire someone who is literally advocating for violence and murder of other people. That’s what neo-Nazis do.

        2. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

          Once again, you DO understand that domestic intelligence agencies keep tabs on extremists, correct? (Not to mention groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center.)

          Quite plainly, they don’t have a 100% success rate; equally plainly, they nonetheless have a high success rate. Just last week Australia prevented a plot by Muslim extremists to bomb airliners.

          I would be quite interests in the opinions of the intelligence community as to whether the “sunshine as disinfectant” theory helps its work. I suspect, however, that it does.

          1. Elsadora*

            The government keeps tabs on everyone, and that is a problem. An even bigger problem is when “we the peo ple” are duped into doing their bidding. Technology is the proverbial noose of a free society.

      10. Czhorat*

        If we make a slippery slope argument about this then we’ll have to allow slippery slope arguments about everything. Before long nobody will be able to make any decisions for fear of where the slippery slope will take them.

        Seriously, that’s a poor argument (IMHO). We can take each issue on a case-by-case basis and act appropriately. Being part of a literal torch-wielding racist mob is pretty clearly past what I would consider acceptable behavior.

        1. siobhan*

          And hey, if people are so worried about the slippery slope of suppressing violent ideology, they should read about what was at the bottom of the slippery slope of unchecked anti-Semitism in 1930s Germany.

      11. GingerofOz*

        But their free speech isn’t being stepped on by firing them. You can support free speech and not think they should go to jail for saying hateful things, but also think that employers should be able to activate their at-will employment rights and fire people that make their co-workers, clients, etc unsafe. Esp when their actions aren’t’ just saying hurtful things but inciting violence.

      12. siobhan*

        For one thing, degenerates not knowing who the other degenerates are hampers their ability to organize. Since these particular degenerates think “peaceful ethnic cleansing” is not only possible but desirable, I’d say that’s a meaningful outcome.

      13. NerdishBird*

        High Score, I think you probably need a better understanding of free speech. And an understanding of a hostile work environment.

      14. Red 5*

        Here’s my thing with slippery slope arguments, because they usually boil down to “where do we draw the line?”

        The thing is though, the answer is in the question: we draw a line. And where we draw that line defines us as a society and as a community, it says who we are as a people. Refusing to draw a line is basically saying that as a people, we accept, condone, and advocate for the most horrible thing you can think of. “Silence encourages the tormentor, never the tormented.” -Elie Wiesel

        Drawing a line right here past “advocating for actual genocide” and then standing on the side of “doesn’t want to murder fellow employees based on their race/religion” is a perfectly acceptable thing for a society or a community to do. In fact, it’s the only way to actually have a society or community, by setting the borders of what is and isn’t acceptable. Otherwise it’s just chaos.

        An employer or company is building a community just as much as they are a workforce. The only thing that we should do is establish that the government itself cannot determine those parameters for the employer for the most part (there is some speech that is not covered even by the first amendment). There’s a reason we’re always going on about employees being a good “culture” fit for a company. That isn’t just about if they are self motivated go getters, it includes “doesn’t want to cause harm to our Jewish clients.”

        1. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

          Self-serving quote by Elie Wiesel.

          Wiesel was an eloquent advocate against anti-Semitism, but also endorsed profoundly ugly views on the Palestinian question. So he’s drawn his free-speech line to exclude anti-Jewish racists, but include anti-Arab ones.

          Which in my book is damned good reason to be skeptical of line-drawing in the first place.

    4. Violet*

      Anyone who espouses Nazi ideology should feel the consequences of their actions. They will resort to violence at the first opportunity. It’s what the people do.
      It isn’t as if White supremacists are holding a different political opinion. They hate minorities for existing.

      1. Snark*

        I had a friend of a friend from college try to tell me today that Spencer et al are just ducky because they just advocate separation of the races, not actual ethnic cleansing or anything. Ask the Zulus how that worked out 30 years ago.

        1. Specialk9*

          Actually the “alt-right” Nazis have been open, on the record, about how they’d prefer brown people/Jews/feminists would just leave, but purging is also an option. They have advocated “black genocide” as a wise thing.

          I have the link but you know what? Nobody needs to read that now. Google it if you want – Slate had an article. There were a bunch of articles right around the election too.

          1. Snark*

            Nah, I’m good. The “we’d prefer they leave, but purging is an option” line just made my skin crawl, because clearly, they’re down for whatever. Don’t even tell me it would take much for these guys to get their pogrom on, because one of ’em rammed a crowd with his big stupid douchemobile just for disagreeing with him.

            1. Two sides*

              But, is that not what YOU are espousing? You would rather the supremacists would just go away but purging is a viable option. If we become them, we are no diferent than them. Ghandi, MLK, they preached PEACEFUL resistance because they understood that. You make a thought, no matter how horrible you find it, illegal and you make the thinker a martyr for their views.

              1. Czhorat*

                Yes. I am fine with violence against Nazis and white supremacists.
                I am fine with them losing their jobs.
                I am fine with the law silencing them.
                I’m fine with punching them in the mouth if that’s what it takes to shut them upp.

                As someone more eloquently put earlier, there is no good to come from airing their viewpoint. Nothing for the rest of us to learn, nothing to understand. Just the argument that some people are less than human. Even airing those sentiments is an act of violence against marginalized groups; I am fine seeing it met with any level of response.

              2. Koko*

                Unless I missed a comment, I have not seen Snark call for “purging” anyone, assuming we’re using “purging” in the same context Nazis use it, meaning “mass slaughter.” There is a pretty big difference between wanting literal genocide and wanting to have zero tolerance for an ideology, so I hope you’re not equating the two like you seem to be.

              3. Anon but Still Against Nazis*

                Two Sides, on the off chance that someone who isn’t a snaky concern troll reads thru this later, do you also feel that people marching in support of pedophilia should feel free to openly express their thoughts and we should just kindly ignore them and hope that they choose to change their opinions on their own? Because it’s the same thing. No one is policing THOUGHTS. People can think whatever durn-fool hateful or sickening thing they want in their own minds. But there are some things that just SAYING them is threatening and hurtful to other people. At that point, the contents of that hurtful speech (speaking, demonstrating, advocating violence) becomes worthy of censure.
                It’s ALSO an insidious form of privilege to hold the victims of hate speech and malice to a higher standard of behavior in their ‘acceptable’ responses to threats and violence.

              4. Snark*

                “But, is that not what YOU are espousing?”

                Do you know what I mean by “purging?” I’m talking about ethnic cleansing, pogroms, and genocide. I’m talking about running cars into people. I’m talking about ovens. If the fullness of a few more seconds would help you realize how breathtakingly asinine your post is, you’re welcome to them. Don’t bother replying.

                1. General Ginger*

                  This. Oh, and I am so tired of the “MLK preached peaceful resistance” argument, while we’re at it. Yes, and they KILLED him.

                2. esra*

                  This is what straight up boggles my mind. If a coworker were out making death threats in their spare time, I would 100% be okay with them being fired for that. But a person is an actual Nazi advocating for the death of thousands, and that’s just supposed to be a difference of opinion?

              5. crepuscular*

                This is two fallacies – MLK and Gandhi did not advocate total pacifism. (MLK advocated assertive self defenee, using force when necessary)

                Anyway, moderate pacifism has always included an exception for the use of reasonable force in defence of self or others.

                Finally,many actual pacifists joined WW2 era anti-Nazi efforts that did not involve fighting or making weapons, such as mining, farming, or nursing.

                Pacifism has never meant tolerating bigots unopposed.

              6. Jadelyn*

                You do realize that Ghandi firmly believed and openly preached that Jewish people should have peacefully submitted to the Nazis’ ethnic cleansing, because he valued peace over justice, right? Is that a stance you really want to support?

                That’s the thing. If we can have both peace and justice, that would be wonderful. When the two are at odds, then I am on the side of justice and to hell with peace.

                You also seem to have a deep misunderstanding of what MLK’s vision of peaceful resistance actually was. He advocated peaceful resistance in the sense that those resisting should not offer violence. Nowhere did he ever advocate passivity, which is what you’re suggesting. MLK’s vision of peaceful resistance was still quite assertive, even forceful.

                Since you want to try to convince us to follow MLK’s example, let me leave you with a direct quote of his: “I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro’s great stumbling block in the stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen’s Council-er or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate who is more devoted to “order” than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says “I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I can’t agree with your methods of direct action””

                (Hint: that’s you he’s talking about as the greatest stumbling block of civil rights advancement. In case that was unclear.)

                1. Snark*

                  Jadelyn, thank you for the pleasure of watching you absolutely burn his argument to the ground.

                2. Optimistic Prime*

                  CHRIST, thank you!

                  Let’s also not forget that MLK was not the only civil rights leader in the 1960s and that the great diversity of leaders of the civil rights movementS in that time period had vastly different views on violence and self-defense.

                3. Jadelyn*

                  That’s very kind of you both, I’m glad to be able to exercise my arguing skills on the side of the forces of good when I can.

              7. Specialk9*

                Two sides “But, is that not what YOU are espousing? You would rather the supremacists would just go away but purging is a viable option. ”

                Ah, I see the alt right is now officially trolling the page. I had been suspecting this by above comments but now I know.

                Pretending that wanting to fire Nazis from a job is the same as *wanting to murder them on a genocidal scale they way they did to 14 million people in recent history* … Well that’s the stupidest strawman I’ve ever seen.

                On the other hand, obviously creating these stupid strawmen has worked. Our society is now literally discussing whether American patriots are all Nazis, or only some.

                Two sides, please crawl back to your alt right rock.

    5. Koko*

      Yeah…the #1 thing making me hate the country/internet lately has been the insistence that we can’t do anything to Nazis we wouldn’t do to Quakers.

  2. Spooky*

    I recently saw a webcomic on Facebook, and it made a very insightful point: Hate speech is incite-ful (not “insightful.”) It is designed to incite hatred and evoke fear, and is frequently a call for violence. That makes it very, very different from traditional protected speech. I’ll link the comic in a comment if I can find it.

      1. SansaStark*

        Thanks for the link. I’ve been trying to articulate this for the past few days and does a far better job than I was doing.

      2. Kate 2*

        I’m pretty sure that cartoon is incorrect.

        In the first place, we allow the KKK to march, and they have committed plenty of violence, simply identifying with a group which has enacted violence isn’t enough to qualify as incitement.

        In the second place the qualifiers on incitement in the U.S. include both timeliness (an incitement happening right now), likelihood (someone saying we should gather up all the purple people and put them on a rocket off planet wouldn’t qualify, some advocating shooting all the purple people would) and it has to be explicit (raving about how awful and horrible the purple people are isn’t incitement, even saying “we should do something about them” isn’t enough, it has to be an explicit, literal call for violence.

        1. Czhorat*

          That’s because we in America have a simplistic, all-or-nothing view of free speech. NO other liberal democracy is without hate-speech laws.

          Fun fact: in the US you can throw a Nazi salute and people will wring their hands if someone punches you. If you give a Nazi salute in Germany you can be literally jailed for it. Think about that.

    1. Snark*

      I saw it too, and I think it’s kind of a rickety constitutional argument, but otherwise I agree that these beliefs are inherently violent in a way that sets them apart.

      1. aebhel*

        Agreed. From a legal standpoint it’s meh (incitement is a very specific thing, and that isn’t it), but philosophically speaking I agree.

  3. Jaguar*

    The question isn’t actually about what companies are ethically allowed to do. The question is whether it’s ethical to doxx white supremacists in an effort to get them fired. I agree it’s ethical for employers to fire people for participating in hate speech. I’m far less comfortable with doxxing or attempting to ruin people’s employment.

    1. LBK*

      I think it would be one thing if they were hiding behind anonymous online accounts or something and people had to really dig to figure out who they were. But these people went out in public and unabashedly showed their faces. I don’t think you have an expectation of privacy when you do something like that.

      1. Jaguar*

        That’s not what I read the letter as asking. The question I read is, “Am I [or anyone] morally in the clear to find out who these people are and then contact their employer and attempt to get them fired?” I don’t think the answer to that is “Yes.”

          1. Jaguar*

            It’s vigilantism, because people have been trying to get people fired for a lot of reasons and I’m not comfortable with it at all, and it strikes me as a really ugly thing to do. I think I’m okay with finding out who they are and reporting them to the police (I’d have to really think about it – doxxing is a really ugly business to be involved in), but going after their job seems far too much like two wrongs making a right.

            1. Katniss*

              Being a Nazi is a much, much uglier thing to do.

              These people are advocating for entire groups of people to be killed. I’m not sure why we’re so concerned with the rights of Nazis. Do we forget that we didn’t fight them with gentle acceptance last time? Do we forget what happened when we just let them be for a long time last time?

                1. BPT*

                  …It doesn’t mean they’re not right either. I think it’s always right to marginalize racists, Nazis, and bigots. If they don’t want to be marginalized they can change their views. But like Katniss said, giving them a platform last time certainly didn’t end well.

                2. Mike C.*

                  It certainly means that one can defend one’s self or others, and the best self defense is not having to spend time with them in close proximity.

                3. Snark*

                  I’m okay with a questionable ethical choice in the service of making it difficult and uncomfortable to support oppression, intimidation, violence, apartheid, and genocide. I really am.

                4. LBK*

                  It really feels to me like a uniquely American view that it’s necessary to equivocate about genocide allegedly in the name of protecting the rights of the marginalized groups often targeted by those wanting to commit genocide. Maybe I’m wrong but it seems like other countries (especially Germany) have found a way to draw extremely hard lines about certain types of speech without the country collapse into fascist oppression of any speech the government doesn’t like.

                5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  @LBK, you’re right, it is. American society (and jurisprudence) loves a false equivalence, and it particularly loves it if it uses laws created to protect oppressed groups to protect the people oppressing them.

            2. Leatherwings*

              Well I find White Supremacy really ugly though. And I don’t think that people who engage in it ought to be afforded a ton of leniency.

              If you’re not comfortable with doxxing them, don’t do it.

            3. Morning Glory*

              My understanding of the word doxxing is that it applies to exposing an online person’s real-life identity, often with information like their home address. It’s scary because people often post their opinions or beliefs online with the expectation of anonymity (like on this site).

              These were people who chose to go out in public in real life with their faces out for a highly public event that they publicized in advance… I don’t understand why you see this as doxxing. It’s just…identifying.

              1. Putting Out Fires, Esq*

                Exactly. They aren’t being doxxed. They showed up in person at a rally, they wanted to get publicity. They’re getting it.

              2. Jaguar*

                It’s an important distinction in terms of whether you are denying someone their presumed anonymity, so point taken. However, my point was the ethics involved, and in both cases you’re doing work to find out identifying information about the person (and in this case, to harm them), so whichever term you prefer to describe that, I think it’s a distinction without a (relevant) difference.

                1. KellyK*

                  If you define “giving someone’s employer information that might cause them to fire them” as harming them, then an awful lot of perfectly innocuous actions become unethical. If it’s wrong for a random stranger to forward a picture to their local Target and say, “Hey, this looks like Bob the cashier,” then is it also wrong for an employee to bring the same photo to their boss and say, “Having seen this, I’m not comfortable working with Bob.”? The harm is the same. Maybe greater if it’s a good employee who complained.

                2. Yomi*

                  I think the relevant difference is that doxxing has historically (if you can use the word historically for a recent phenomenon) been used to harm and silence marginalized groups like women and people of color. To compare the intense amount of harassment and invasion of their lives that they have suffered to a twitter account putting an accurate caption on a picture of a public event, and a quick google search to see where that name pops up as a student/employee in openly publicized and posted info is, I think, a disservice to the people who have been stalked and terrorized by doxxing.

                  It’s important not to say these men are being doxxed because that implies a degree of harm that they are not experiencing, which benefits them and further victimizes the people they’ve hurt in the past.

                  I know this is a bit of an argument about semantics, but I think that’s why people are reacting so negatively to the rest of your ethical stance. I can see your point of view on this, though I disagree, I understand where it’s coming from.

            4. Artemesia*

              Nazis ain’t bean bag. This isn’t a little difference of opinion about politics. These people strutting with Nazi flags and military garb (designed specifically to create confusion if the National Guard is called) and assault rifles are a genuine public danger. These are racists, fascists, terrorists. They are doing this to intimidate. I would not want one of these violent jerks representing my business and discriminating against people for being Nazis is not a protected class issue. It is not only not wrong to fire someone for participating in a racist march, it is the right thing to do.

              1. Venus Supreme*

                Yes. These people are TERRORISTS. They incited terror in Charlottesville. This was pure terror.

            5. Christine*

              Nah. You advocate for the death of my kid brother or my coworkers or the African American family of five sitting next to me on the train home from work yesterday or the millions of people who don’t fit their extremely narrow definition of who gets to be treated like a goddamn human being, and you are so far outside the social contract that losing your job is the *least* that should happen to you.

              Everyone involved in this thread should look up the Paradox of Tolerance. The short version: a tolerant society is not ethically required to tolerate intolerant groups, i.e. those who wish the destruction of a tolerant society. Nazis hold up the first amendment to shield themselves, but that will be one of the first things to go if they gain full control over the government. People who want to destroy a tolerant society do not have to be protected by that society.

              1. Katniss*

                I’m putting this whole thing on a cross-stitch and hanging it on my front door. Or maybe just that last sentence.

              2. MrsCHX*

                Thank you. Because I had no polite comeback for “but it’s not nice to the hate speech-ers!”

              3. Mike C.*

                Seriously, my late grandfather didn’t escape Europe in the 1940s because he wanted to see the world.

              4. Tammy*

                As US Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg wrote in 1963, “while the Constitution protects against invasions of individual rights, it is not a suicide pact.”

            6. Willow*

              Vigilantism would be tracking them down and beating them up. Alerting their employer is just enacting the natural social consequence of their behavior. Social disapproval is one of the main bulwarks against hateful bigotry.

              1. Bryce*

                Personally I’d draw the line between alerting their employer and spreading their info all over the internet to encourage multiple people to alert their employer. That smells too much like mob justice, and can go really badly if the person has been mis-identified. But that’s just where I pass my comfort level, not some universal morality judgement.

            7. RabbitRabbit*

              KKK used to wear robes so they could be both scary and anonymous. These guys are just scary. They want to be weekend warrior Nazis/KKK/white supremacists, toting torches or guns and shouting literal Nazi slogans and heil’ing, and then go back to their weekday jobs like it’s no big deal? Oh hell no.

              1. Annie Moose*

                Not that I want to offer them any advice, but one step to being scary would be to find a torch supplier that isn’t the garden section of Walmart…

              2. Katie the Fed*

                They’re not wearing robes/masks because they WANT to normalize it. Sorry, bros, but it’s 2017. Everyone has a camera. You want to show your face? You pay the consequences.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  Well, not just that. It’s also illegal in VA to wear masks/hoods or other things that distort your identity for the purpose of evading identification (linked the statute to my name). But I agree with you that, on a broader level, they still would have marched without hoods because they’re trying to mainstream white supremacy. They want to make it cool/hip.

                  If you’re committed and proud enough to openly identify in public as a Nazi, then you should not be surprised if there are consequences later when someone recognizes you participated in a neo-Nazi march.

                2. Detective Amy Santiago*

                  Exactly this.

                  If they were ashamed of their views, they wouldn’t have gone out in public to espouse them. Once you publicize your repugnant opinions, you deserve whatever consequences come your way.

            8. General Ginger*

              The way I see it, one can’t be a “weekend Nazi”. They want to go to Nazi rallies, wave around torches, guns, spout hateful slogans and all that? Then they need to accept the ramifications of that “during the week”. They don’t get to just go back to their lives like nothing happened.

            9. Annabelle*

              This isn’t doxxing. None of those people were anonymous. If they wanted to be, they would have taken a page from their predecessors and worn hoods.

            10. KS*

              But there is nothing to report to the police. Employment, however, is far more subject to scrutiny.

            11. aebhel*

              What good would it do to report them to the police? It’s not illegal to attend a white supremacist rally.

            12. chicken_flavored_deodorant*

              The label vigilantism is being thrown around but, in my view, with very little justification for why that word is appropriate.

              The action being discussed is, at base, just the sharing of truthful and publicly-available information which may paint a person in a negative light. It’s not so different than when the local newspaper runs a piece on sleazy business practices at the local car dealership. ‘Investigative journalism’ would be a more accurate description.

            13. Jessica*

              If it were a member of ISIS who spent their weekend plotting attacks in their basement in the company of their local terrorist cell, would you have a problem with finding out who those people are and letting their employer know, so that they did not have a source of revenue and a means of spreading their propaganda?

              I doubt many people would have a problem with that.

              Okay, now substitute “Nazi” or “White supremacist” for “member of ISIS”. Because that’s literally what they’re doing, plotting acts of terrorism with their fellow terrorists. I feel quite comfortable with the idea of outing them publicly and cutting them off from every possible means of continuing their terrorism and propagandizing. If they don’t like it, they can stop being terrorists, change their minds, purge their associations of other terrorists, and start fresh.

              There is no scenario in which it is “wrong” to stop terrorist activity because what if the terrorist gets fired. I find it incredible that anyone would even argue that it was.

            14. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              How is it vigilantism? Vigilantism is taking the law into your hands. Contacting someone’s employer and saying, “Hi, your employee publicly marched with and identifies as a Nazi. Just thought you should know” is not vigilantism. It’s no different than if someone took a photo of people in the march and put it on a newspaper.

              The only thing that concerns me re: doxxing is when someone is incorrectly identified as a participant when they were not. But if you are easily identifiable online and are out marching in public and someone puts two and two together, then I don’t think sharing that information is wrong.

              1. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

                So how do you propose to stop people from contacting someone’s employer (say, Hobby Lobby) and saying, “Hi, your employee publicly participated in a rally for Hillary Clinton and identifies as a Democrat”?

                1. SunshineOH*

                  You can’t. There’s already nothing to stop that from happening. And of course, Hobby Lobby can fire me for being liberal if they want to. But again, you’re arguing for the rights of an entire group of people that wants to eradicate entire populations of humans. IT IS NOT THE SAME. As Simone so eloquently said above – people who want to destroy a society don’t get to be protected by that society.

                2. chicken_flavored_deodorant*

                  Why would anybody need to propose methods to stop that? Whatever gave you the idea that limiting speech in that way was necessary or desirable.

                  It’s a shame you didn’t go to a decent quasi-law school.

                3. Gaia*

                  You can’t, however, as already mentioned multiple times we’ve drawn this line as a society. As a whole we’ve decided hate speech and bigotry are different than political association. It is one thing to be a Dem working for a publicly Repub company. It is another to be a Nazi living among sane minded humans.

                4. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

                  @SunshineOH: YES IT IS THE SAME. (And making an argument in all caps is not an argument, although it keeps the occulists in business.) The Constitution doesn’t say “Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of popular speech.” It says Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech, full stop. The regulation of speech must be content neutral.

                  @Gaia: you state, “a whole we’ve decided hate speech and bigotry are different than political association.” Cite your precedent for that claim. The Skokie case, which affirmed the right of Nazis to march in downtown Illinois, would seem to stand for the opposite proposition. As an op-ed in today’s Boston Globe put it, “there’s no hate speech exception to the First Amendment.”

            15. nonegiven*

              Report them to the police for being Nazis? It’s not illegal. The police knew, the Nazis had a permit. Now, you filmed one doing an illegal act? Report that to the police.

            16. Mookie*

              This is a mis-use of the term “doxxing.” Someone is not “doxxed” if they are publicly participating in an event and someone recognizes them or decides to identify them through normal, legal means. No one is violating their quasi-anonymity. You are responsible for what you do in public; if you can’t handle the blow-back, don’t march with Nazis.

          2. Brett*

            One particular reason is that doxxing is wrong and wrong far more often that it is right.

            Two examples I have first-hand knowledge of, from Ferguson:
            A person was doxxed early on as the killer of Mike Brown. (Actually, nearly 20 people were, but this person’s story is particularly bad.) His facebook profile was published and his work history along with his home address, the addresses of all of his relatives, etc.
            The problem is that his work history was faked. He was not a police officer at all. He was a dispatcher for a different department near Ferguson.
            Someone tried, and failed, to kill him. Someone else tried to burn down his parents’ house. He ended up having to quit his job, move away, and assume a new identity. His relatives had to move.
            The false doxxing also was likely on purpose by a specific person who personally knew the dispatcher, but that is a whole different issue and charges were never brought against them.

            Second story is sadder though. People decided to doxx the relatives of the mayor of Ferguson. What happened to those relatives was already pretty sad. His parents lost most of their savings, their business, and someone even broke into their house and smashed the pipes, flooding it.

            But one man simply had the misfortune of sharing a name with one of the mayor’s relatives and living in Missouri.
            He actually was the director of a non-profit in northeast Missouri that ran assistance programs for the poor. He was doxxed with his employer, his credit information and every account connected to him. Those accounts were all completely emptied, and they included all the funds of the non-profit. He lost everything, and so did the non-profit who was forced to close and could no longer provide assistance.

              1. Brett*

                Using the term as the public exposing of private information of known people, e.g. the chief of police had his home address, phone number, credit record exposed (documents released) as well as that of all of his family.
                I know many people use the term to refer to specifically exposing anonymous people, but it is more often used to expose private information of publicly known people.

                Doxxing itself is fraught with enormous ethical issues, but the harm principle against it is probably bigger. Even when targeting people with well known identities (names, photos, occupations), the wrong person is targeted 95%+ of the time. Even when you just want that person fired (where you can argue that the employer can do due diligence), there will be vigilantism (economic and physical violence) against the person that will target them, their employer, their relatives, etc., normally to the point that their employer will have to fire them anyways just to protect other employees.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  So what you’re describing as doxxing (which I agree is the technical definition) doesn’t sound like what people are talking about on this subthread. Folks are talking about using public photos to identify the name of someone who is publicly known. Not their home address, credit card, relatives, phone number, etc. Just their identity, and oftentimes their employer (because again, they’ve made that information publicly available.)

                  Even pre-internet, there was a risk of people being misidentified. The press still does it, and it has harmful impacts on those people. But that doesn’t mean that we don’t use public photographs or attempt to identify people based on personal knowledge. I don’t think that 5% risk (or however you want to place it) outweighs the public good of getting 95% of it right. I think it means we should have better systems for dealing with the 5% error rate.

                2. Brett*

                  You misread my number. It was 95% wrong, not 95% right, even with people that were well known with public identifies and public photos like James Knowles III.

                  Now, that is just based on the couple hundred cases that I personally knew about, but even then it was a couple of hundred cases of misidentification when targeting less than 5 very well known and public people.

              2. Minority Opinion*

                I object to this doxxing (I have no better term for it) in general because the potential for misidentification is high, because harassment extends to family, friends, and associates, and because there is no recourse for misidentified people when the harassment is made by anonymous individuals and the false accusations live on forever on the web. Additionally, I worry about a trend I am seeing of false misidentifications for political purposes.

                To actually reinforce the preview point, the driver of the car in Charlotteville was originally misidentified by conservative websites, and a perfectly innocent person was harassed. This isn’t an isolated incident, there have been multiple instances of innocent people being identified was the person in a photo of a crime or other repugnant action and being harassed, and having their lives ruined.

                I’m against doxxing and harassment campaigns in general, because I see them wielded not just against Nazis, but against people who hold ideological differences from the doxxer. Scientists who experiment on animals get doxxed and harassed, online activists, academics with unpopular opinions, researchers with research people disagree with. People who I personally know have had harassment campaigns levied against them from the conservative and liberal ends of the political spectrum for research and reasonable disagreement.

                As a result, I tend to be very skeptical of the use of mass harassment campaigns to silence people, because the definition of disagreeable speech has been so watered down by some people, that they send their army of followers against whoever is deemed their enemy.

                As a person of color, I never thought I would find myself defending white supremacists, but here you go – I am against doxxing and harassment when done by private citizens in general, EVEN the doxxing of white supremacists.

                In my world, the slippery slope argument is not a fallacy and holds weight because the same arguments being used for giving the OK to harrass Nazis are being used against those who do animal and cell research (they are hurting animals and so people can harass them because it is for the common good of ending a practic they find abhorrent). I’ve begun to see rhetoric formed around this kind of idea aimed at people who disagree with various definitions of discrimination (the rhetoric I see is the notion that arguing for a more conservative definition hurts people).

                (Just for pendandict personalities- government tracking down online crime is different).

        1. Leatherwings*

          I’m not necessarily directing this at you, but I’ve had several conversations with people who hold this viewpoint that doxxing is bad over the past several days and I universally find it odd that so many of them are willing to spend time and energy defending the social privileges of Nazis. I don’t know. I know there are plenty of people who think doxxing is bad and that it sets a dangerous precedent, but why waste your time defending these people?

          1. that piano lady*

            Exactly. Doxxing women for wanting better representation in media, for instance, is a totally different thing than doxxing someone for aligning themselves with a political group that MURDERED MILLIONS OF HUMANS.

            1. Snark*

              And that’s the thing that pisses me off about all the false equivalencies. No, it’s not the same BECAUSE NAZIS. No, it wouldn’t be the same flipped around BECAUSE NAZIS. Yes, I would be upset if a LGBT+ person got doxxed BECAUSE NOT NAZIS.

              1. that piano lady*

                Right. Like how did shutting down Nazi speech become controversial in this country? Did we not get involved in an international World War to end the atrocities Nazis perpetuated? How is hating Nazi speech controversial?!

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  I don’t think it’s just WWII vets dying, Snark. I think it’s been a 30+ year campaign to normalize white supremacy through a series of political dog whistles that have built on each other and are now culminating in this constant parade of violent, fascist, Nazi horribles.

            2. Bookworm*

              Also, this isn’t doxxing, for the most part. Many of the people being ‘outed’ were sharing their participation on social media or giving interviews. They can hardly expect people to not recognize them.

          2. Specialk9*

            I’ve actually wondered for a long time why there isn’t a nonprofit dedicated to forensic computing, to out those people on the Internet who threaten horrible things to women (graphic rape, dismemberment, murder) for having opinions on sports and video games etc. It seems like if womens’ lives are ruined by those actions – and they are – so should the anonymous mob.

            I’m not advocating doxxing – listing their address and phone to threaten and encourage violence by shadowy unhinged people – but making sure that parents and family members and employers and universities will know that Greg Cyberpunk threatened these people with these awful things.

          3. President Porpoise*

            I think sacrificing the privacy of a universally reviled group in an effort to ruin their life is a bad precedent. If their employer recognizes them and fires them I’m ok with that.

            But the public changes its mind on what is not acceptable at least a few times a century. If we’re ok doing this to these guys, what if a future society (or maybe current society) starts doxxing, say, less clad ladies and ruining their lives, citing this as pecedent?

            1. Leatherwings*

              Well I fundamentally believe that a thinking society can tell the difference between Nazis and women in bikinis.

              1. LBK*

                Right. If our society’s values have so dramatically changed, I’m going to have much bigger concerns.

                1. President Porpoise*

                  I’m thinking, say, Saudi Arabia, actually. I hope we ever Handmaid’s Tale here.

                2. Leatherwings*

                  I do not support the doxxing of women in Saudi Arabia, but don’t have an issue with doxxing Nazis. Nuance is allowed, especially when it comes to racists.
                  This a slippery slope fallacy – “we can’t do this because then this will happen in the future” and that’s just not a good enough reason to prop up and defend white supremacy.

                3. President Porpoise*

                  Yes, but morals are frequently set by societies, and societies vary greatly based off of time period and geography. 1950 US morals are very different than 2017 US morals. 2017 US morals are very different from 2017 Saudi Arabian morals, or 2017 Russian morals.

                  Nuance is HARD, especially with racists. Something that seems normal and reasonable gets twisted way out of proportion and used to justify evil and hateful acts. With the way the country is currently going, I’m way more inclined to do all in my power to protect the general rights to privacy, barring legal action and court order. The tools that we give the powerful today are the weapons that beat us down tomorrow.

                4. Leatherwings*

                  Man, we just really disagree that nuance is hard. Racism is bad and wrong. And yes, morals are set by society but racism is like a guiding north star.

                  And leaving absolutely all punishment to the courts/justice system will absolutely result in [further overt] social acceptance of white supremacy.

                  After all, what these guys did this weekend is absolutely not illegal save for the guy who killed someone and the handful of others who engaged in violence. Largely, they acted legally. We as a society can’t sanction it just because it was legal.

                5. President Porpoise*

                  I’m down for hanging the laws to make this type of speech actually illegal. I’m down with employers firing protestors that they recognize. But actively doxxing these guys feels waaay to similar to the current justice department request for IPs of January protestors.

                  As for the nuance aspect – you an I both agree that these guys advocating racist Nazi speech are clearly, obviously, and inexcusably evil. But they believe differently, which means that it’s not universal agreement. So while we may believe that we would be justified in doxxing these crapholes and ruining their lives and any hope of gainful employment, they may feel the same about doxxing our gay friends and family members, or our Muslim friends. And while many (I hope most) people would respond to protect our minority communities, there are enough people who wouldn’t where this would be a really big problem.
                  I want to maintain the moral high ground for those instances so that I can condemn their bad behavior without justifying the nuances that allowed me to do the same thing to them.

                6. that piano lady*

                  There’s a difference from government doxxing people and requesting agencies and companies to disclose, vs private individuals doxxing. I see a lot of people making this a false equivalent.

                7. Leatherwings*

                  Woah woah woah, President Porpoise. You’re more okay with the government restricting certain types of speech than you are with the public taking action to make certain types of speech disallowable?

                  That’s a far more dangerous precedent. The First Amendment exists for a reason, and I’ll defend that. But it’s not a catch all for regulating hate speech, that’s up to us as a public to do.

                8. President Porpoise*

                  Perhaps legislating that certain types of speech be considered hate speech, hard stop? Nazi salutes, slogans, etc. Similar to Germany’s laws in that regard.

                  I mean, if the red line is Nazism, make speech tied to Nazism legally considered hate speech and actionable.

                9. Leatherwings*

                  I fail to understand why literally altering the First Amendment of the Constitution to reflect this red line is fine, but public individuals are incapable of adhering to the exact same red line.

                10. President Porpoise*

                  Legal authority. If I’m going to take an action like that, I want to be able to point to the exact statute that makes me right.

                11. KellyK*

                  In the case of firing people, the exact legal statute is that you’re not firing them for membership in a protected class or as retaliation for whistleblowing or reporting harassment, and possibly a couple other things depending on state laws. If an action has to be illegal to be fireable, then an employee can literally show up *at work* with their Nazi symbols, say horrible things to their coworkers and customers, and be guaranteed to keep their job. People get fired for things that aren’t illegal all the time.

                12. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  As a lawyer, I think that’s a terrible approach. You don’t need to amend the First Amendment to make it “ok” to be mad at Nazis for marching.

                  And we should be really clear that (1) the government is involved in this; (2) this is not doxxing (despite its mischaracterization that way); (3) there is no privacy interest being violated; (4) private employers are allowed to make decisions on whether to fire neo-Nazis, who are not a protected class; and (5) THESE ARE FREAKING NEO-NAZIS.

                  People marched publicly where they knew there would be pictures, etc., taken of them. They consented to disclosing their identities. There’s no privacy interest at stake. Sharing photos of their faces in order to identify them is in no way a violation of privacy. Nor is there any privacy interest violated if a private employer then declines to continue to employ that person.

                  Plenty of people with other political beliefs that are not racist/terrorist/noxious have been fired for their participation in public protests and marches, as well. I find it mind-boggling that you would suggest this will be used against oppressed groups or groups that expouse narratives regarding anti-racism and inclusion as a threat, because those folks already experience constant harassment and actual doxxing.

              2. Minority Opinion*

                As a person of color, looking at the history of the US, and th way society has to be forced into giving minority groups rights, I actually don’t have that much faith in society.

                As someone who sees animal researchers harassed by anonymous groups because the harassers feel they are stopping great harm, I’m against faceless harassment because it is being used as a tool to silence people in general.

                when we rely on mob rule (which is what doxxing is) we set a dangerous precedent, because eventually that tactic will be misused. Well, actually, it already is being misused.

              1. Jerry Vandesic*

                Isn’t that also true of people who work at or visit any organization? Tobacco company, abortion clinic, NAMBLA meeting, investment bank, the list goes on and on. It’s not uncommon for organizations to have opponents. Being in public is pretty common when people go about their lives. Is it open season on everyone?

                1. Optimistic Prime*

                  Because Nazis are completely, totally, and utterly different from people who work at tobacco companies, abortion clinics, and investment banks.

                  NAZIs. Let’s remember who we are talking about again: NAZIs. One more time.

                  NAZIS!

                  The concern trolling slippery slope comparisons are grinding on my last black nerve out here.

                2. Jerry Vandesic*

                  True, but it’s a distinction that won’t matter to the person who is publicly outed for working at an abortion clinic. The power to out the Nazis is the same power that can be wielded against almost anyone who steps out in public. In some ways there is no argument, as this is simply the power of the internet and modern surveillance technology. It will be used for both good and bad.

            2. Annabelle*

              FWIW, people already do that to women all the time. I also think letting a company know that they have a Nazi on their payroll is a pretty far cry from ruining someone’s life.

            3. KS*

              …What privacy? This is also not doxxing, as others have pointed out. And now we’re invoking the Handmaid’s Tale future? This is some weird concern trolling.

            4. Vancouver Reader*

              I guess I’m looking at things too simplistically, but there’s a difference between doxxing these guys and say someone who’s in a minority group. People who join the KKK or other hate groups do so as a freedom of choice. Those who are visible minorities, or non heterosexual, aren’t that way by choice, it’s genetics and not something you can change.

            5. M*

              But these nazis aren’t just walking around for fun/to be edgy. They want to make that society where most people are either dead or severely restricted in what they can do/where they can go/who they can date/what clothes they can wear etc. And people are already doxxing women. So telling a bunch of nazis that they can’t advocate purging entire groups of people because “if we’re ok doing this to these guys what if a future society starts doxxing…citing this as precedent” isn’t really relevant.

              Women already get doxxed. Now people are marching to instill terror in people and advocating murder, and women are still getting doxxed. These nazis aren’t going to say ‘oh, trans woman, you let me spew my hate so now I’m totally fine with you having your say.’ Somebody might cite shutting nazis down as precedent for why they want to stop others from having a voice, but they’d find a precedent/’reason’ anywhere.

              Abusers who commit domestic violence say ‘well they totally deserved to be beaten because they made me tomato soup instead of black bean soup.’ That’s ridiculous.

          4. Stop That Goat*

            I guess I fall on the side of defense because next time I could be on the other side of it for being gay. We’re doxxed today in some countries to sometimes fatal results by people who view us just as negatively.

            It’s an ugly viewpoint but purposefully hunting down people just feels like a step too far.

            1. M-C*

              On the other hand, I fall on the other side precisely because of being gay. Nazis killed hundreds of thousands of my own kind before, and proclaim publicly that they would be delighted to do it again. I don’t want to work with them, I wouldn’t feel safe.

          5. Jesca*

            I think the argument is set on “where does it end” and that is legitimate. I mean you have to really understand that not everyone is socialistic societies were killed for speaking against their government .. they were just ostracized and removed. Many times, people would do this even before government interference. Right and wrong are not so black and white. What if you were just there to watch? What if you were there and saw the carnage and realized those beliefs are not for you? Assuming someone’s presence means they agree ends at what point? I think that is the danger. And while yes we need to protect the rights of those these people would like to hurt, we also need to be mindful that a mob is a mob is a mob. And once people on any belief start thinking like a hive, there can be no end to what is determined to be “wrong”. Do you want to ruin people’s lives over an assumption? Do you want people to go into hiding believing that their minority belief will cost them their livelihood? Or do you want to have a discussion and let them be? If their employers themselves catch them, so be it. But do you really want to start the hive? Just something to consider.

            1. Leatherwings*

              Studying this stuff is sort of what I do, it’s not that I’m ignorant of the social consequences. But I think the answer is pretty simple too: It ends with hate speech. Doxxing people for engaging in hate speech is allowed. Ruining someone’s lives over engaging hate speech is allowed. I mentioned the slippery slope fallacy above, this is another example of it. The brightline is hate speech.

              >Right and wrong are not so black and white. What if you were just there to watch?

              Hard disagree. Marching at a white supremacist march is wrong and there’s no excuse for participating. Those photos of dudes carrying tiki torches are not ambiguous.

              1. Jesca*

                There is not “slippery slope” fallacy in logical reasoning. It has happened in the past and more than likely will continue. Once you hop on a crazy bus of missing ambiguity and throw around the “us vs. them” mentality, there really is no end to it. It doesn’t matter if your beliefs match the current societal correctness or not. A zealot is a zealot and it will only attract more to it. Yes, people who generally espouse this type of rhetoric are not people we want in a civil society. My point is, once you cross that threshold, what end is there to how far you will eventually go? People have very different ideas of what racism and bigotry actually entails, and this is something our country is really struggling with right now. Slippery slopes do exist. If you believe that you can stop and drawn a hard line on when you say nope that is going to far, then by all means go for it. My point is, many people do not know how to define that line. Many people have had their lives ruined in this manner over very trivial things taken out of context. This is why you don’t see the flurry you once did of basic every day individuals being “outed” like in years gone past. Because it is nuanced. Because people have PROVEN that they do not know where to draw the line. I am afraid with such ideas as “slippery slope fallacies” used as arguments against very true and very real outcomes that have occurred in the past, that yes it will go too far in the end. It is ok to feel very strongly about something. It is also ok to admit that maybe our emotions and hysteria limit our ability to draw hard lines.

                1. Mike C.*

                  But for many of us, it is literally “us vs. them”. Sure, Nazis aren’t going to pick me out of crowd but if they start looking at my family tree then I’m a target just as much as the rest. My grandfather didn’t escape Nazis the first time around just for me to sit around and do nothing.

                2. Leatherwings*

                  >My point is, once you cross that threshold, what end is there to how far you will eventually go?

                  The end of hate speech. That is how far we go. I absolutely believe that we can do that. Perhaps we just fundamentally disagree on that.

                  And I don’t totally appreciate the implication that I’m being emotional or hysterical either.

                3. Ambivalent*

                  Jesca, I can see your point. I am ambivalent. If you think about the experience under totalitarian regimes, this idea is not without basis. I have friends who were outed online and their families targeted and ostracized back home in China, for expressing liberal ideas abroad. This wasn’t by the government (per se, though obviously tolerated by it). It was ‘mob justice’ by people who thought these liberal ideas were anti-Chinese and deeply evil. The bright line isn’t always clear, it’s defined by society. What is scary, as you say, is that this isn’t a proper court process. It is possible (though highly unlikely) that a person who was marching had some kind of mitigating circumstance (mental disease? Coerced to be there by scary friend? Child murdered by minority recently and wasn’t thinking clearly, but regretted it later? etc) but mob justice doesn’t differentiate.
                  I have also family murdered in the holocaust. But I am not in favor of employing mob justice to right the wrongs. That said, maybe I wouldn’t shed too many tears if somebody else outed these people. I think this is not as easy a question as many commenters make it out to be.

                4. Jessie the First (or second)*

                  The person making this an “us vs them” is not the anti-Nazi. It is the Nazi – the person who literally says to entire categories of human beings that “you are subhuman trash and you need to be purged.” That’s where the “us vs them” comes from, and this moral relativism where we pretend resistance is just as bad as actual advocacy for violent oppression and murder of vast swaths of people, on the basis that over time sometimes societies have different ideas is not okay. Advocating mass murder is not okay. Nazi = evil.

                  Yes, the slippery slope IS a logical fallacy, because it pretends that it is not possible to distinguish A from B from C, all the way over to Z. The world is full – absolutely full – of examples of when A happened and we managed to keep from Z happening. There are *plenty* of lines that can be drawn before we get to Z.

                5. Optimistic Prime*

                  You know, there may be a point at which that line is really hard to draw. But I would say that point is far, far beyond “everyone who is not white, straight, Christian, etc. is of lesser value and they should be purged from society.”

                  No, a zealot is not a zealot. There’s a very large difference between being a Nazi zealot and a social justice zealot.

                  There is really no ambiguity when a group actually advocates for genocide of entire swaths of people. They want me dead, they want my entire family dead, they want lots of my friends and coworkers and the people I love and live with dead.

            2. Leatherwings*

              Oh, and yes I do want racists to be afraid and go into hiding. Normalizing their opinions as “just an opinion we can have a civilized discussion about” is not the way I would go with that.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Yup. I don’t want to have a discussion with them about their beliefs at all. They already believe that I’m subhuman, that I have no right to be here, and that by virtue of my identity I deserve violent treatment and expulsion from my homeland. I have zero interest in discussing or probing that mindset and pretending it is a valid political belief.

                As far as people struggling over what constitutes racism and bigotry, that may be true, but here’s one case in which it’s absolutely not the case: Pretty much everyone agrees that the KKK and Nazis are racist bigots. I don’t think we have to worry about drawing the line at Nazis.

            3. MrsCHX*

              Would you go watch a KKK rally? Who would? Who doesn’t know WHAT IT IS, exactly?

              Let them be?!?! Woah. I’d better log off now…Wow.

              Do you have any brown people in your life that you actually care about? Ask them their opinion on just letting the racists be.

              1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                Such a strong agree on this one. Maybe this is an unfair assumption, but I seriously have to ask if the people making “protect Nazis from their public actions” arguments are (1) POC or (2) have experience with KKK marches. As someone who’s got both of those experiences, I don’t know anyone who goes to watch the KKK march, or attends a rally, as a bystander.

                1. Gaia*

                  I mean, I’m not a POC and I don’t have any experience with KKK marches but… I’m never going to go to one. I love studying societies and I am fascinated by fringe groups but…I know what the KKK is about and I am never going to even pretend they have any legitimacy.

            4. Risha*

              The problem I keep running into with these types of arguments is that it treats them as if these were legitimate points of views. As something that is and can be debated.

              We don’t typically entertain the arguments of people who eat people, because wanting to eat people is something that someone can argue for (overpopulation! world hunger! humans are tasty!) but isn’t a legitimate point of view. I don’t have a problem doxxing a proud, open cannibal if I ever happen to meet one, and if I can stop screaming and running in terror for long enough. And yet we treat “this group is subhuman and should be killed if they don’t leave” as a something that can be a legitimately debated? I’m okay saying that I draw my line here.

            5. Snark*

              “Do you want people to go into hiding believing that their minority belief will cost them their livelihood?”

              Yes. Because if these bastards get any kind of actual power, they will be going directly for my spouse, my friends, my family, and me. Do not mistake this for a difference of beliefs or opinions. Ther “beliefs” are that my wife is subhuman scum who should be killed. So yes, I want them fucked, burned, and driven across the land.

              1. General Ginger*

                Snark, I don’t always agree with your comments on this blog, but on this post? I am so glad you’ve been commenting on this post.

                1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

                  Very much agreed. They’re a little more violent than I am, but I still very much appreciate them. I don’t have the emotional bandwidth or time at work, today, to field this onslaught of crazy, and I appreciate that you (and others) have been picking up the slack.

              2. Cleopatra Jones*

                And the problem with so many white supremacists’ is that once the colored people and the LGBT people have been purged, they want to move on to the physically disabled and mentally challenged as their next conquests. They don’t stop in their relentless push to for white purity.

          6. Annie Moose*

            I don’t hold strong feelings on the subject of doxxing (I genuinely don’t know how I feel about it), but one concern is if a photograph is taken out of context and an innocent person is accused–e.g. what if the person was actually counter-protesting? Or if the photo’s not from Charlottesville at all, and doesn’t actually contain anything proving the person is associated with white supremacist groups?

            (one example that demonstrates this is something that really can happen–there’s a picture going around of a black police officer standing calmly in front of white supremacist protesters that purportedly came out of the recent Charlottesville protests. But while it’s a great picture and a real one, it’s actually from a different Charlottesville protest in July. Another example is some guy and his son got harassed after the Boston Marathon bombing because people examining pictures from the aftermath thought they were the bombers–they weren’t, obviously)

            Now, obviously I would surely hope that an employer would do more investigation than take a quick look at a single photograph (e.g. ask coworkers what impression they’ve gotten from the employee in the past). And I’m not sure I’m all that convinced by this argument anyway (it does come across as a bit “well we can’t know 100% for absolute certain that this person wearing clothing with a swastika on it and giving the Nazi salute and holding a sign with the logo of a white supremacist group is actually a neo-Nazi, so we can’t get mad at anybody! Maybe it’s all just a horrible misunderstanding!!”). But I do think this is a legitimate reason to, at the very least, be careful about doxxing. (and leave it to people who know what they’re doing)

            1. Annie Moose*

              I should clarify, in my post I’m using “doxxing” in a confusing way. What I really mean is “figuring out who they are and reporting it to their employers”. I definitely lean against randomly publishing people’s names and addresses on the internet. Even if I’m 100% certain they’re a Nazi, this sort of doxxing is just… dangerous and can spiral out of control in very bad ways.

                1. Annie Moose*

                  I’m pretty sure there’s a middle ground between allowing white supremacists to air their views unopposed and publishing the names and addresses of purported white supremacists on the internet. These are not literally our only two options as a society.

                2. Snark*

                  Social pressure, ostracism, and economic pressure are uniquely effective disincentives for social animals like humans. So I’m open to other forms of social pressure, ostracism, and economic pressure, maybe, but getting them fired and ostracized is a pretty decent alternative by my lights.

                3. Leatherwings*

                  Annie, I think the vast majority of people are are using doxxing to mean “identify who the person is and contact their employer” vs. publishing their info on the internet and encouraging arson or something.

            2. Creag an Tuire*

              This is my only concern with Internet “doxxing” — we’ve already had one person falsely accused of participating in the Nazi rally based on nothing more than a single photo of a bearded Nazi wearing a certain university’s sweatshirt and a professor at that same university having a similarly beardy face. Fortunately he didn’t get fired but he has been harassed for it (which is why I’m not using his name — it’s that university whose mascot is a Really Angry Pig if you’re interested in looking it up). So I’d caution anyone thinking of “outing” somebody like this to wait and do some due diligence before proceeding.

              That said, I shed zero tears for the actual Nazis who are suffering professional and social consequences.

          7. Mazzy*

            Well who said doxxing is limited in anyway to nazis (which isn’t the group in question here anyway)?

          8. aebhel*

            FWIW, I’m not going to cry over these guys getting doxxed, but I do think that normalizing doxxing sets a bad precedent, in much the same way that restricting the free speech of despicable people sets a bad precedent. Also because there have already been cases of collateral damage by way of misidentification, and the people doing the doxxing don’t seem too concerned about it.

    2. Mike C.*

      Vigilante justice is risky but I’d want to know if my employees were marching around in white hoods.

      1. Christine*

        They weren’t in hoods, even. They went out with their faces exposed. There were media and private citizens taking pictures, which they had to have known would happen. Were probably counting on media attention, in fact, that’s how protests make an impact. If they were so concerned about staying anonymous to protect their continued employment, they should’ve taken steps to hide their identities.

        Or, you know, not been Nazis. That’s also a good step towards being allowed to remain a part of society.

        1. Artemesia*

          It is especially sweet that their ‘lynch mob torches’ illuminated their faces and made them easy to identify in the photos.

          1. Infinity Anon*

            One thing I would be concerned about is if they are misidentified. Some people look extremely similar to each other, especially if it is based on one photo.

            1. SarahTheEntwife*

              For this reason I’m much more comfortable telling someone’s employer than publishing their address (not to mention the fact that other people might live at that address in addition to the person you’re trying to target). I have zero problem with people being fired for being Nazis, but it should be management’s responsibility to be Really Damn Sure that the picture is of Bob and not someone who just kind of looks like Bob at that angle.

            2. AndersonDarling*

              This is my worry. Some unfortunate tourist happened to be standing at the wrong place when a picture is taken and now he is on trial at his office. If he is lucky- his employer could fire him without investigating.
              99% of the time you may get the correct ID. But then you have the innocent 1% whose lives are ruined.

              1. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

                During the anti-Yanukovich protests in Ukraine, the regime sent automated SMS messages to all cell phones within a prescribed radius of the Maidan. These noted that the recipient “had participated in an illegal demonstration,” regardless of whether the cell phone user was there to protest or buy some salo.

            3. Amber T*

              This. My heart stopped when I saw one picture because one of the men looked so much like my childhood friend. It wasn’t him, thank goodness. I think a company, before firing someone, has to do their due diligence and confirm that it is indeed their employee before firing. But honestly, if you look at most of their social media, they proudly announce it, so I don’t think it’ll be that difficult to prove.

              1. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

                “I think a company, before firing someone, has to do their due diligence and confirm that it is indeed their employee before firing.”

                You seriously trust companies to do this? Especially when it means they have to expend resources doing so?

            4. New Window*

              People already have been misidentified:

              “Amateur Sleuths Aim to Identify Charlottesville Marchers, but Sometimes Misfire”
              https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/14/us/charlottesville-doxxing.html

              That’s one huge danger with vigilante justice (or “justice”). Mobs do not carefully sift through facts and deliberate before taking action. People telling employers that their employees are white supremacist who marched at a rally? Sure. Publicizing personal information that is guaranteed to lead to constant threats and even real danger to safety, health, and life of the individual or those they live with? No, even if the target is an actual neo-Nazi.

            5. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              I don’t think the risk of misidentification outweighs the practice of trying to pair photos with names. I’m not saying that to be cavalier—being misidentified is awful and can have tremendous personal consequences that may not be deserved. And I suspect my tolerance would be different if the number of people misidentified were grossly disproportionate to the number of people who are correctly identified. But I think that means we should become more rigorous about the process we use to identify people, not that we should stop identifying people at all.

              The downside of crowdsourcing identifications is that there’s not as much time spent on due diligence (to be fair, newspapers have done this, too, with little criticism or pushback). But if the folks who are making this info public want to come up with guidelines for how to “responsibly” share that information, then I’m not opposed to introducing that framework.

              1. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

                There is also the example of the guy in the UK who was recently arrested for (almost) pushing a woman under a bus while jogging. They arrested him based on resemblance to the perpetrator, as seen in CCTV footage.

                Minor problem: they guy they arrested was on a business trip in the US at the time.

    3. VintageLydia*

      You have no expectation of privacy in public spaces, though. There was a reason Klasnsmen wore hoods back in the day. If they are truly worried about the consequences of their actions, they can do the same.

      1. RVA*

        Not to defend them, but in Virginia it is illegal to cover your face in public with a couple of exceptions.

        1. SarahTheEntwife*

          I’m pretty sure killing people with cars is also illegal in Virginia and this doesn’t seem to have stopped them.

          1. Iris Eyes*

            So is blocking a public street without a permit and attacking people and property with base ball bats and lead pipes.

            If we condemn violence and hate speech we need to do it no matter what type of extremist you are. If there is legitimate hate speech then that is a matter for law enforcement to deal with, not for private citizens.

            Wasn’t the original intent of the march/protest to challenge the removal of a statue? I feel like trying to out people just because they were in attendance would be like trying to out Lalapalooza attendees as people who do illegal drugs. Is that something that employers might want to know about and fire employees for? Yes. However unless there are some other factors (like Facebook posts, in person comments, they were actually holding a sign calling for the death of the “other”) I think that based on attendance at one event that wasn’t actually a KKK or neo-Nazi rally but just had those groups in attendance isn’t enough to condemn.

            1. Natalie*

              If there is legitimate hate speech then that is a matter for law enforcement to deal with, not for private citizens

              Not in the United States, as hate speech is not illegal here. The only recourse this particular society has is social pressure.

            2. JenM*

              Seriously? They marched with swaztikas and gave Nazi salutes! You are literally defending Nazis!!

            3. New Orleans Resident*

              I live in one of the areas dealing with the statues issue and no I do not have patience for people coming in from outside just because they want to protect monuments built during the early 1900s and the Civil Rights movement. Those monuments come with photos of their unveiling and the crowds there were not military enthusiasts.

              My city has so far avoided the violence, but it cost us a fortune and we had people from other states camping out near schools and playgrounds with guns. They threatened locals, trashed businesses online, and used public spaces as bathrooms. It has been months and some of them are still here causing problems and trying to instigate more clashes. Anyone that travelled from outside Charlottesville to protest are associating themselves with that. Either they did not know about it, and are likely not very bright as they failed to research something before traveling quite a ways to take part, or know what is going on and support it. If you have been pulled into this issue as many residents have been you know that these protests are not friendly and not safe.

            4. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Who are you referring to when you talk about people attacking property and people with baseball bats and lead pipes, or blocking the streets? Because most of the people with those items and behaviors were Nazis, not counterprotestors.

              So I’m not sure what you’re trying to argue. That murdering people with a car is ok if they’re in the street? That carrying a baseball bat is the same as carrying an AR-15? That if some people on one side do not protest exactly according to what you think the laws are, then no one should be protected by those laws? Or that everyone should be prosecuted under those laws?

        2. she was a fast machine*

          I wonder why? It certainly couldn’t have anything to do with the area’s history of racial violence perpetrated by people wearing face coverings….

    4. Leatherwings*

      Meh. These guys think they get to be weekend Nazis. But black people, Jews, Muslim people, LGBT people and everyone else they hate don’t get to be minorities on the weekend only, they deal with discrimination every single day for something they, for the most part, don’t pick.

      I’m totally down for demonstrating that there are consequences to hateful actions.

      1. extra anon today*

        I agree. Also they want to pretend they are *just* weekend Nazis. When we all know there is no way that they can go into work Monday through Friday and not let those abhorrent and disgusting views influence them. They cannot be trusted to treat their minority coworkers equitably. It’s setting the company up for discrimination lawsuits.

        1. MrsCHX*

          And remember, not just “coworkers” — direct reports, interviewees, students, defendants, etc.

      2. General Ginger*

        This.
        Plus, there is no such thing as a “weekend Nazi”. If you’re comfortable spouting this disgusting rhetoric at a rally, there’s no way it’s not influencing how you treat your coworkers.

      3. Starwatcher*

        Did you see the one who was confronted by a single protestor, and abjectly ripped off his white shirt, basically made a white flag out of it, denied meaning any of it – he just liked to shout “White Power” and troll people?

      4. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

        So again, do you agree with sending Pussy Riot to the gulag for its “hateful action” against Orthodox believers?

          1. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

            But the point is, some people — Orthodox believers — found Pussy Riot’s protest to be offensive and hateful. In jailing Pussy Riot, that’s the principle that Putin appealed to.

            It’s the same principle that you’re appealing to in order to create a hate speech exception to the First Amendment.

            If the principle is flawed in one context, it’s worth questioning whether it’s flawed in others.

    5. Spooky*

      If they’re okay with lynching people, I’m okay with them having a tougher time finding employment.

      Besides, if companies can fire employees for making comments on the bus (a previous question on here) because it makes the company look bad, they can certainly apply the same logic here. True, they aren’t wearing a company shirt, but to me the logic is much the same.

      1. Annie Moose*

        I can tell you this much, I sure wouldn’t want to walk into a store or office and be served by somebody I recognized from one of the photographs. It definitely would not make me inclined to patronize that business!

    6. Roscoe*

      Well, we need to define Doxxing and Identifying. I agree that digging up someone’s personal info (name, address, phone number, etc) is wrong. I don’t think though saying “This is John Smith” and then someone saying “I saw he works at the Target near my house” is quite the same thing. I can then see a bunch of people writing to Target saying “I will not support you as long as you employ this person”

    7. Liane*

      A spokesman for one of the companies (I think) was quoted as saying it wasn’t doxxing because the person had been giving media statements so their identity was already known

    8. Ask a Manager* Post author

      I actually don’t think that’s the question the LW is posing in her letter to me. She writes: “What do you think are the HR/management implications? … So, purely on an management basis, what do you think?”

      1. Jaguar*

        Ah, you’re right. My bad – you can delete my comments if you want, they’re pretty off topic and are already getting a lot of replies.

    9. seejay*

      I read a post regarding doxxing/reporting people for participating in hate speech and I think it’s relevant here:

      User robotmango:
      i had a discussion today with a friend who was genuinely trying to understand why people are working so hard to ID the charlottesville nazis and contact their employers. “but won’t that just make them more desperate and violent?” they asked. “if they get fired from their jobs or kicked out of school? if they think they have nothing to lose?”
      and i said, “i don’t know. maybe. but right now, these motherfuckers think they can be nazis on the /weekend/.”
      like, i somewhat understood my friend’s hesitance re: doxxing, because doxxing is so often a tool of evil. but these motherfuckers thinkt hey can show up to a white supremacist rally on saturday where /pepole got fucking murdered by white supremacists/, and then on monday they can go back to the IT desk and log into outlook and answer their fucking office phone. they think they can show up to a rally on saturday with a shield and a helmet and beat black teenagers with fucking sticks in a parking garage, and on monday they can be back on campus, taking notes in accounting. these putrid pieces of human garbage think they can be nazis all weekend, and then on thursday they can go to the professional development workshop with the department and enjoy those brownies that diane brought in.
      no. no, they fucking /cannot/.
      if you want to be a goddamned weekend nazi, you have to be a nazi every goddamned day. you want to be a weekend nazi? then you face the fucking music on monday, you cowardly piece of shit. you go ahead and live in a world where your hatred of other people means nobody wants to hir you, work with you, live with you, break bread with you; you hateful fuck. you get to suffer the natural consequences of your belief in the lesser humanity of others. you get to live the outcome of your violence, your acts of bigotry. you get to live your ugly truth, alone.

      User moonsrain:
      black people don’t get to stop being black. Jewish people don’t get to stop being jewish. Minorities live their truth every waking moment of their lives, so these wastes of space can live their chosen identity 24/7/365 as well.

        1. seejay*

          There’s a community I follow on FB that reposts a lot of Tumblr social justice stuff and has some really good messaging and beliefs. I got it from there. ^_^

        1. seejay*

          As others have pointed out, people aren’t getting fired willy-nilly and any employer worth his salt isn’t going to take some rando reports to just fire outright, they’re going to do their own investigation and deal with what they find.

          And as someone else downthread posted:

          “Innocent people might suffer. If you never punish racists for fear of being wrong, though, a whole ton of minorities suffer. Gotta find a balancing act of sufficient evidence to punish someone, but occasionally punishing the innocent is not a reason to never punish the guilty.”

          While it sucks that innocent people might get caught up with it, sitting by and *not* doing anything and not reporting racists and nazis out of fear of misidentifying bystanders, at the risk of a large amount of minorities suffering and white supremacy gaining a foothold and running loose? I’m willing to take that risk.

          1. Meh*

            Then I’m afraid we’re going to have to agree to disagree. “A few burned witches for the greater good,” doesn’t sit well with me, especially when the doxxers don’t have to face any consequences for making people’s lives miserable (not even firing, but just the slew of death threats is enough to drive people nuts). I do not trust the Internet mob.

    10. LawBee*

      To be clear – they’re not being doxxed. Doxxing is seeking out someone’s private information who was not acting in a public space and publishing it, hoping harm comes to her (because it is often a her).

      These guys were in public, gave interviews, marched barefaced in a street. They have public facebook pages with their pictures. This isn’t doxxing, it’s saying “Hey, I know that dude, he works at top dog.”

      Why do I care about the difference? Doxxing is a deliberate act to ruin someone’s life; victims of doxxing are often unaware they’ve even been targeted until the death threats start hitting their email. Not an exaggeration. It is horrible.

      Going “that’s Peter Cvjetanovic, he goes to my school and I think he’s a member of such and such group” is not doxxing. Believe me, these marchers knew exactly what they were doing.

      1. Infinity Anon*

        But it often isn’t people saying “I know that dude.” It’s someone scouring the internet and comparing pictures of people and then saying “I found him! It’s this guy!” based on a picture. This is affecting people who were not there and are being misidentified and they are “unaware they’ve even been targeted until the death threats start hitting their email.” That is a problem!
        I’m not saying that people who did participate should get a free pass. They should have to face the fact that they decided to spew hate, and they should be held accountable for that. But the way that this is happening is a problem. There needs to be a higher standard of proof than is currently being used, but there is no way to enforce a standard in mob justice.

        1. seejay*

          It’s not randos identifying people just based on pictures, it’s literally people spreading the photos and people identifying them based on them *actually recognizing them because they know them*. Those are the reports that are being taken seriously and are being followed up on. I’ve been following the accounts and communities of people that are tracking these people and it’s friends, coworkers, classmates and family members that are identifying people in the photos. They’re then being cross-referenced to FB profiles with more photos and most of them contain more evidence of white supremacy beliefs.

          1. Infinity anon*

            The fact that most of the time it is possible to find more corroboration of their views is part of why using only pictures is a problem. Most of the people who participated are not trying to hide it and have plenty of posts on facebook and twitter that can corroborate their views and that they were there. Why then would a picture ever be considered enough evidence?

        2. LawBee*

          ok first. Google image search doesn’t do face matching. You can’t take a picture of my personal favorite Peter Cvjetanovic, plunk it into something online and find all his information. You can look at his picture on @yesyoureracist and say “I know that dude.” Yes, some people were misidentified. From what I’ve seen, the mistaken identifications have been rectified – including the guy who was pissed at being misidentified because he wore his nazi band at a different rally “as an experiment”. Yes, that one guy’s family has been harassed, but that was happening long before Charlottesville because he’s from Fargo, and everyone knew about his sick views already.

          This is not doxxing. From docs, as in legal documents like your bank statement, your finances, your personal address, your mother’s address and phone number, your children’s schools, with the specific hope that deliberate and grievous harm is inflicted on your person because you dared to speak up about sexual harassment/dump your boyfriend/whatever.

          I have zero pity for this scum. If you can think of a better way to identify who they are other than by a picture on the internet – of their actual face in their actual clothes that they brought on an actual plane from Ohio or California in order to take part in an actual hate march – go for it.

          1. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

            ok first. Google image search doesn’t do face matching.

            Yet. Facebook recently purchased an Israeli startup that does just this.

    11. Bagpuss*

      Jaguar, you’re not ruining their employment, or getting them fired. They are doing that to themselves, as a result of the choices they make.

      1. Dot Warner*

        Exactly. It’s no different than telling the guy’s employer that he’s embezzling or that he sexually harassed someone; you’re merely letting them know that a fireable offense has occurred. If he didn’t want to get fired, he shouldn’t have committed the offense.

    12. Sylvan (Sylvia)*

      Are they being doxxed, though? Or are they being recognized in photos of their participation in a public event?

      I went to a protest not too long ago. There were photographers, so I am probably identifiable in some pictures. Someone noticing that isn’t really the same thing as doxxing.

      1. Sylvan (Sylvia)*

        Actually, sorry, never mind, I’m backing out of this thread and post. The morality of snitching on Nazis is a dumb discussion and I am dumber for having tried to engage.

    13. NPG*

      1000% this.

      And what the heck do you do when someone ‘outs’ you (or an employee) as a KKK Supporter at the rally but you were at home with your family or Out of State on vacation or whatever? There was an article about that happening to someone yesterday that I read.

      I am not OK with racists, but I am not OK with vigilantism and mob justice either.

  4. copy run start*

    I’m torn on this. I don’t support actively campaigning to identify these people, but I would be fine if one of my coworkers was photographed at Charlottesville and my employer let them go. I would be deeply uncomfortable working with someone who felt the need to support this event. (I’m actually glad I’m not in the office much this week because I don’t want to hear any of the office gossip around this event. There’s a couple of people who talk loudly enough about politics for me to gather that they lean in the opposite direction from me and their comments have already made me feel uneasy.)

    1. Dweali*

      I’m ok with it being brought to an employers attention to let them decide if they want to be affiliated with that (and then is it something that only other employees should bring up or random’s from the internet) but not with the other activities that turn it into the internet pitchforks (death threats, doxxing, swatting, etc).

      1. my two cents*

        if a coworker was ‘outted’ as a nazi (particularly so if it was like some of these dudes photographed giving the ‘salute’ while wearing swastikas), it’d either be me or them leaving. I’m not going to work somewhere that allows these PIGS anywhere near me.

        And there’s no fine line with me regarding these jags… if you’re willing to make your little clammy fingers pin that swastika to your lapel or get your voice to recite those ’14 words’, you are at MINIMUM willing to align yourself with the historical genocide of ‘non contributing’ peoples based on color/religion/orientation/disability to secure a ‘white future’ and are a watertrash dumpsterfire garbageperson.

    2. Willow*

      I’m perfectly comfortable with internet folks campaigning to identify and expose these people (I’m not ok with illegal actions like threats or violence). Imposing a social cost for this sort of behavior is one of the strongest nonviolent tools we have.

      1. Tuckerman*

        That was my first instinct as well. But then I thought, will losing their job make them better people? Will they decide not to be racist as a result, or will they simply dig their heels in and go underground with their views? If they have children, or are caring for elderly parents, what are the impacts of unemployment on them?

        1. Fiennes*

          Maybe they should’ve thought about grandma and the kids BEFORE publicly unveiling themselves as Nazis.

          I don’t care about redeeming these people. Their souls (or lack thereof) are their responsibility. I care about making Naziism a matter of extreme public shame and serious consequence.

        2. tink*

          What are the impacts of death on the people and families that these white supremacists hate? Why are we putting more value on the lives of people that, given half a thought, will literally drive their cars into crowds, will shoot up churches, will bomb places just because they don’t like someone’s skin color, religion, sexuality, gender, or choice in medical care than on the people they want to kill?

          One side wants to murder folks for not looking and thinking just like them. The other side wants to be able to live a life where they’re not constantly worried they’re going to be beaten or murdered. My sympathy isn’t with the folks that want to do the murdering.

          1. Tuckerman*

            Hmm. To me, I don’t see deciding not to publicly shame someone as putting more value on the lives of white supremacists. I don’t think publicly shaming someone makes others safer.
            If we want to make people safer, we need to get rid of white supremacists. So then, how do we get rid of white supremacists? We can either execute/imprison them, or we can get them to believe they are wrong (and then they would not be white supremacists anymore). Can you think of another way?

            1. Marty*

              We shame them. When people knew that society would shame them, they didn’t gather in such large numbers to rally. It’s only now that our president has put that in doubt that they are publicly so numerous. Therefore, we must make it clear that, despite our President, we will still shame Nazis and Klansmen.

              1. Meh*

                And if you get it wrong? Do you take responsibility for your shaming and making someone’s life miserable? People are being misidentified and sent death threats for just resembling protesters. Mob justice is unpredictable and results in witch hunts.

                1. Optimistic Prime*

                  What is the alternative? Continue to let them march in the streets and kill, maim, and hurt brown people?

            2. Jennifer*

              Yeah. Make it socially unacceptable to be a Nazi. It shouldn’t be comfortable to wish hate and death on others based on their position in the genetic lottery.

            3. chicken_flavored_deodorant*

              I think it will be difficult to change the hearts of hard-core Nazis. Thankfully, they are a small group that, by themselves, lacks the ability to achieve their heinous agenda. Efforts to rehabilitate them are unlikely to achieve much. I suspect that people with foolish and awful hatreds will be around forever.

              I do, however, think shame can be very usefully employed to communicate with the group of people that are indifferent and willing to ‘go along’. There are far more people in this group and,
              collectively, their cooperation is necessary to carry out any large-scale Nazi plans. It is important that this group sees concrete evidence that collaborating with Nazis will result in being ostracized and losing the many benefits of society.

        3. Bird*

          The point is not to make them better people. Nazis/KKK members/White Supremacists are already convinced that they’re the only worthwhile people, and it’s not the job of the people they target to try to change their minds. The point is to protect those of us who are at risk of violence from these horrible people. What about all the people who Nazis and the KKK hurt? What about the impacts on them? Why are we so concerned about the kind of people who advocate murder and genocide? They’re not concerned about us.

          1. Tuckerman*

            I absolutely agree that the goal should be to protect those at risk of violence from these horrible people. But I just don’t agree that firing someone accomplishes this goal. When people are already angry and horrible, and then experience financial/social stress, I’d think they’d actually be more of a risk to others. I’m concerned about the people who advocate murder and genocide because bullying them doesn’t make anyone safer.

            1. Jennifer*

              And it’s not a hostile work environment for someone to work with a person they know wishes them dead?

            2. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Wait, you’re seriously arguing that letting go someone who advocates the violent destructive of non-het-WASPs is “bullying”? Or that financial stress makes them more of a risk to others? No dude, these folks were plenty violent before their jobs were on the line.

              Not having a white supremacist at work, does in fact, make people safer. It makes everyone in the office who does not agree with racial genocide and racial violence safer. I don’t care if it changes a person’s mind and soul. What I care about is protecting other workers and society as a whole. Coddling Nazis and Nazi sympathizers does not achieve that goal.

        4. Delphine*

          Listen, nothing is going to change a Nazi’s mind. They don’t think I’m subhuman because they don’t know any better. They’ve made a conscious choice to hold these beliefs.

          1. Tuckerman*

            Have you heard of Megan Phelps-Roper? She grew up in the Westboro Baptist Church, and spewed hate from a young age. And yet she left the church and disavowed those beliefs thanks to the kindness of others. By conversing through Twitter (of all places!) and meeting some of the people she had protested against, she realized she had been wrong.

            1. eee*

              and do you know what led her to realize that her family was wrong? by being exposed to people who (yes, often kindly) told her her family’s views were repugnant. She was raised to believe that X Y and Z were right, and it was only by people saying “hey, you’re wrong, that is not the norm of this society, this is a crappy thing to do” that she learned. I’m sure there are some number of Nazis in the US that were raised in families that believe it, and guess what, facing consequences for their actions is going to be a strong way of teaching them that this is not okay in this society. Not facing consequences is not going to teach them anything.

              1. Tuckerman*

                Thanks for your response. The thing is, facing consequences seemed to just encourage her and her family to dig in their heels further and yell louder. For example, when police did not protect them from violence during protests. They became more entrenched in their beliefs. It wasn’t consequences that got her to change her ways. It was dialogue with those who (according to her) did not assume bad intent.
                I think you raise a good point about public shaming sending a message about acceptable behaviors (and not just beliefs). I’m just doubtful that message will lead to a behavioral change.

                1. General Ginger*

                  I admire people who can dialogue wit Megan Phelps et al. I really do. But nobody should have to dialogue with people who want them to die.

        5. my two cents*

          All nazis are unilaterally terrible people.
          If you’re able to repeat those ’14 words’ and wear a swastika, you are a terrible person.

          Why should I even give a moment’s pause to the families of nazis, when they are literally advocating for ethnic cleansing?!

          A dad of one of the outted protesters actually made a pretty good public statement…
          http://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2017/08/15/543619397/after-son-is-idd-at-supremacist-rally-his-father-responds-publicly

        6. that piano lady*

          It is really not our jobs to educate these people. I draw the line at thinking about impact on lost jobs for people who support an ideology that involves lynching black people and gassing Jewish people.

        7. Natalie*

          will losing their job make them better people? Will they decide not to be racist as a result, or will they simply dig their heels in and go underground with their views?

          Will keeping their jobs make them better people? Or will they simply decide that their community is in agreement with them and remain aboveground with their views?

          1. Tuckerman*

            That’s a really good question. I think that people who are not stressed out about the basic necessities in life (food, shelter, safety- the bottom of Masl) are in a much better position to evaluate their belief systems than those who are stressed in these ways.

            1. Natalie*

              Sorry, that was overly flip. I was annoyed by something else.

              I suspect that what you’re thinking of is a third option, where a Nazi isn’t fired for their views but is given some kind of intervention I guess? And I get where you’re coming there, but I just don’t think that’s realistic. You mentioned Megan Phelps-Roper – didn’t it take her years and a lot of dedicated work by other people to shift her thinking?

              The people that chose to engage with her were certainly doing something good in the world. But I don’t think an employer has an obligation to invest the same amount of time and effort into an openly bigoted employee. Never mind that during these intervention years the Nazi employee is still interacting with co-workers, subordinates, students, customers, arrestees, etc., some of whom are presumably people of color, Jewish, women, GLBT and so forth. Their work lives are being affected, too. Why does the Nazi’s comfort and safety take precedence?

              1. Tuckerman*

                No worries. It’s definitely an intense topic! Ok. I definitely draw the line at discrimatory behavior in the workplace. If a white supremacist is showing hostility in the workplace, I see that as a different issue than going to a rally and coming to work on a Monday morning and being civil and pleasant. If that’s the case, get rid of them because they cannot function in a work environment. Certainly, there are people working effectively side by side with very different beliefs, beliefs that may not be as violent as white supremacists (though I’d argue “all gay people are damned for eternity” is a pretty violent ideology), but still strong beliefs that implicate co-workers.

            2. LBK*

              What cause then do they have to evaluate their lifestyle if it’s providing them success and stability? And in the meantime, that also puts them in a position of power and influence to enact their views against others. Their rhetoric doesn’t exist in a vacuum – a manager or landlord or anyone else who makes major decisions about other people’s lives is going to implement their hateful views through those decisions. I want people like that out of jobs because I don’t want them to have any form of authority through which to enact their prejudice.

            3. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

              Why would someone reevaluate their belief system if it’s working for them?

        8. hbc*

          If they have children, maybe it’s a revelation to them that the views that have been spouted at home aren’t at all normal, and that the world doesn’t agree with dear old dad, and maybe it’s time to start looking into what those other views are. “My racist dad cared more about intimidating minorities than keeping a roof over our heads” is a fine lesson to learn, and maybe some unemployed person who isn’t openly hostile can start feeding his own kids and care for his elderly parents.

        9. Misidentified*

          There is an argument to be made here that pushing them away leaves them nowhere to go but each other, in much the same way a felony record makes it harder to go back to being a good citizen. You’re not wrong about that.

          But I think the concern here is that bringing them back into the fold is A) ultimately up to them, not us, and B) not worth the trouble. If someone wants to be a Nazi, kudos to you if you can turn them away from it, BUT! Don’t expect it, and don’t let it stop you from protecting yourself from them.

          1. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

            “There is an argument to be made here that pushing them away leaves them nowhere to go but each other, in much the same way a felony record makes it harder to go back to being a good citizen.”

            Exactly. Do we really want the alt-right to build up its own alternative network of institutions (businesses, non-profits, think tanks, etc.) that employ only other members of the alt-right and become a force to reckon with throughout the country?

          2. Olive Hornby*

            I agree that it’s ultimately not anyone’s responsibility to bring white supremacists back into the fold, and that it’s not fair or acceptable to ask oppressed and/or marginalized people to carry that burden. But I do think we’re all better off in a world in which *someone* is doing the hard and often thankless work of bringing angry young men (and it is, mostly, angry young men causing the harm here) to recognize that they’re on the wrong path. I know there are programs in Europe where reformed skinheads help young men extricate themselves from racist gangs and other white supremacists organizations, and they do have some successes. Even one person turned away from hatred makes that worth the trouble, IMHO.

      2. copy run start*

        Doxxing is malicious; it always comes with the purpose of threats of violence. Right now, the internet is doxxing Nazis. It’s easy to support punishing these people socially.

        But I don’t want to be doxxed for supporting something, or being a member of a group that someone else has a beef with (like being a PoC, or being trans, or supporting LGBTQI rights, or being an Athiest, or being childfree). I can’t support doxxing Nazis or other groups I dislike (no matter how much I dislike them or feel threatened by them) without supporting it against myself.

        1. Detective Amy Santiago*

          First, no one is being doxxed. They are identifying people who publicly participated in a protest.

          Second, do you really not see the difference between “supporting something” like equal rights for POC, LGBT, etc and the fact that Nazis believe these groups are subhuman and should be slaughtered en masse?

    3. The Supreme Troll*

      Actively campaigning (in the sense of going through employee list of names to try to determine who is a Republican/who is a Democrat, who is conservative/who is a liberal, etc… and if this is possible in the real world??) is very weird and would be approaching an invasion of privacy.

      But actively reaching out to the employers of those people that have clearly shown (unashamedly) themselves to be Neo-Nazis and members of the KKK, or any other hate group that calls for the harm or death of any other group of human beings, is something that is totally reasonable, that most rational bosses would want to know about their employees, and reasonable/rational co-workers would want to distance themselves from in miles.

      And what if the bosses are unreasonable, and share the same demented viewpoints? Then, more than likely, absolutely nothing bad will happen to those people. But the effort in shaming people with such vile viewpoints (who are obviously shameless) is absolutely worth pursuing!

  5. caryatis*

    The problem with the “hate speech is different” argument is: who gets to decide what counts as hate speech? Do we trust employers (or anyone) to objectively and fairly make that decision? Yes, white nationalism is hate speech, but there are a lot of people out there on the left who think any Trump voter is by definition a racist. I’ve also heard “anyone against Obamacare is a racist” and “any gun owner is a racist.” And now we’re talking about 50%+ of Americans.

    Alison is correct that the First Amendment doesn’t apply to private actors. But the First Amendment is not the be-all and end-all of free speech. As has been said often on this blog, something can be perfectly legal and yet a very, very, bad idea. It’s a very, very bad idea to start stigmatizing and firing people on the right. Our country is polarized enough already.

    I say: political opinions that do not disrupt the workplace should never be grounds for workplace discipline. Let’s all just agree to live with people who disagree with us. Tolerance, people.

    1. Spooky*

      No. No, no, no. No one should have to “agree to live with” someone who spends their weekends actively promoting lynching and racial attacks. NO ONE.

      1. ThatGirl*

        Totally agree. How can non-white or even Jewish co-workers be expected to work with someone who actively seeks their harm and destruction?

      2. Annabelle*

        Ugh thank you. I am so tired of people acting like condemning hate speech is some sort of slippery slope. These people aren’t marching for lower taxes. They are quite literally advocating genocide.

      3. Akcipitrokulo*

        Definitely. I think how to define hate speech is that it actively harms people. Not offends. Not disagrees with. HARMS.

        1. Gingerblue*

          This. Forcing, say, a black employee to pretend that a KKK member is just another member of the staff is itself a form of violence.

      4. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Seriously though. There is a Grand Canyon sized difference between “I think gay people are gross” and “I think all LGBT people deserve to die.”

    2. extra anon today*

      You have never head “any gun owner is a racist.” That is a strawman and you know it. Hate speech is easy to define: do you want to INCITE VIOLENCE against a class of people for an intrinsic value of theirs?

      1. LCL*

        I think we are supposed to take the word of people that post on this site for what they say they experienced. We can argue about their INTERPRETATION (and I often do!) but if Caryatis says she heard it, we should proceed as if she did.

        1. extra anon today*

          Sorry it’s hard for me to believe that everything a white supremacist apologist says is true since they are clearly delusional.

          1. Not Who You Think I Am*

            This is the problem right there. You called caryatis a liar. You jumped to the conclusion that a defender of the first amendment is a “white supremacist apologist”. Is the ACLU an apologist for the alt-Right or defenders of the first amendment?

            1. Jadelyn*

              Okay but…like…this literally goes back to the ENTIRE POINT OF THIS: the difference between what the First Amendment actually does and doesn’t protect.

              Someone defending Nazis is, literally by definition, a white supremacist apologist. In this particular case, you can’t argue that caryatis is a “defender of the First Amendment”, since we’re NOT TALKING ABOUT FIRST AMENDMENT RIGHTS. We’re talking about protection from social repercussions. You cannot equate some rando on the internet saying “but Nazis shouldn’t suffer any social or personal consequences for hate speech” with an organization of attorneys that specifically take on cases where the government is infringing upon someone’s literal right to say things. That is an absurd false equivalence, and you’re being extremely disingenuous with your framing of the issue.

            2. Trout 'Waver*

              He is creating a strawman with his statements and then using that strawman to claim a false equivalence. Double fallacy.

      2. Infinity Anon*

        According to Merriam-Webster:
        Hate Speech (legal definition): speech that is intended to insult, offend, or intimidate a person because of some trait (as race, religion, sexual orientation, national origin, or disability)

      3. Fiennes*

        That sounded fake as heck. And I think the presumption of truthfulness is about letter writers, not anyone who says anything. Maybe not? IDK. But I agree: that sentence was never spoken.

      4. Meh*

        “Any gun owner is racist.” Is the nicer of the insults. Here’s an experiment. Go to Google and type in “all gun owners” and here’s what pop’s up in Google’s suggestions:
        -all gun owners should be killed
        -all gun ownership be banned
        -all gun owners are criminals
        -arrest all gun owners

        Well, based on your definition, looks like there’s no shortage of hate speech against gun owners (especially that first one). Not saying that Nazi’s are worth defending, but caryatis is absolutely valid in their point.

    3. YarnOwl*

      But white supremacy isn’t a political opinion that doesn’t disrupt the workplace. This isn’t about indiscriminately firing people for being conservative, but firing people for going to a rally in support of a movement that is based on hate for people of different races and religions. Don’t ask people to be tolerant of a movement based on intolerance.

      1. Namelesscommentator*

        I’m almost as aghast that this is a thought people are voicing as I was at the rallies this weekend.

        Nazism/racism is so far over any line that may be used to determine fitness for public consumption that it’s not worth opening a discussion about.

      2. that piano lady*

        Right. This is not some controversial ideology. There’s no controversy here. There are not two sides to the story when it comes to Nazism and wanting to lynch POC.

    4. Bird*

      My workday would be very disrupted if I had to work with an actual, literal Nazi. I have no obligation to “tolerate” someone who thinks that my very existence as a queer woman makes me subhuman. That’s not mere disagreement or a political opinion, that is violence.

    5. K.*

      No. As someone that Nazis would happily lynch, “agree to disagree” with Nazis does not work for me, full stop. If I found out that my employer knew that my colleagues were Nazis and did nothing, I’d quit and consult a lawyer about a hostile work environment lawsuit. Fraternizing with Nazis is a literal matter of life and death for me. Should Deandre Harris be tolerant of the Nazis who bashed his head in on Saturday?

    6. LBK*

      The idea that there are “political opinions” that are detached from affecting actual humans is a complete myth. Even the idea of a “fiscal conserative” who’s otherwise liberal is cognitive dissonance, because it ignores all the intersectional ways social and economic issues overlap. You can’t expect your coworkers to just smile and nod if you fundamentally believe in policies that will negatively affect their lives.

      1. Annabelle*

        This. Political discourse isn’t about winning or losing or just disagreeing. People advocating policies that directly affect my ability to exist as a queer, Arab American person don’t annoy me, they terrify me.

        There’s no way the people being outed managed to completely avoid working around POC. There’s surely at least a few people in their former workplaces that would be directly harmed by their views.

      2. OhNo*

        This is a complete aside from the main thread of conversation here, but I had to say: thank you for finally giving me the words to explain what bothers me so much about the “fiscal conservative” label. That has always bugged me but I’ve never been able to explain why!

      3. Misidentified*

        If it’s no argument whether the policy negatively affects their lives (i.e. Nazis), then I agree completely. What about otherwise, where the effect of the policy is what’s in question?

        (Example: firearms laws, where the arguments are more along the lines of “do they save or cost more lives?” or “where’s the line between ‘too easy for a criminal to get one’ and ‘too difficult for a law abiding citizen to get one’?” etc.)

      4. Fiscal Conservative and Proud*

        On the contrary, fiscal conservatives argue that social justice is better served by free-market policies, because these policies create more jobs and thus empower marginalized communities.

    7. Specialk9*

      You’re so thoroughly conflating two different things – politics and hate speech – that I’m questioning your motives. It seems that one cannot truly NOT understand that ‘being a Nazi and advocating genocide’ is different from being a Tory or Whig, to go old school. So you seem to be muddying the waters on purpose.

    8. Elemeno P.*

      I can’t agree with people who actively chant that they would like to put me in an oven like my ancestors, no.

    9. Data Analyst / Software Engineer*

      This is where I’m at. What happens when someone gets fired for “allegedly” being at one of these events, when it turns out they actually weren’t, and it was just someone who looked like them?” The problem with any of this “going viral” stuff is that there’s really no due process, and I don’t like the idea of someone’s job being taken from them because an internet mob demanded it.

      Sure, if my name appears in print beside my employer’s name, and I say something that causes an uproar, that was me being stupid for identifying my employer. But if someone calls up my boss and says they saw me on the news at an alt-right event, and I wasn’t there? Then what?

      I’m not a fan of “internet mobs” doxxing people and causing them to lose their jobs. There’s an element of due process that is missing.

      1. The Supreme Troll*

        I get what you’re saying, and I don’t like it when the internet is used to spread stupid rumors as fact. However, I’m assuming that the “outing to employers” would only be done by those who, for absolute fact – with zero percent doubt – know of the person and who the person works for. It has to be absolutely certain for fact beyond any possible doubt.

        1. Jerry Vandesic*

          “I’m assuming that the “outing to employers” would only be done by those who, for absolute fact ….”

          No, definitely no. The history of the internet is strewn with people posting mistakes, uncertainties, half-truths and full scale lies. I don’t think the current circumstances would be any different.

          1. Lehigh*

            Yeah, this. If you know someone who is a Nazi or attended a Nazi rally, sure as hell tell their employer. If you think you figured out who that guy in the photo is…no. Waaaaay too much room for error, and whatever we’d like to think, internet vigilantes and the like are generally the exact opposite of careful with evidence-checking.

        2. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

          There have been literally three examples of mistaken identity that I’ve heard reported in national media over the past week or so.

      2. Putting Out Fires, Esq*

        There’s no process due in an at-will employment environment.

        I’m sorry, I’m getting het up about this specifically because this is the point. THIS is the marketplace of ideas that the 1st amendment is supposed to foster. It’s a cutthroat, nasty place where there are real consequences to the stuff a person spews in public. Not only is it allowed, it is necessary for other actors in the marketplace to speak through things like firings or boycotts.

        1. Spooky*

          *sings merrily*
          If you’re a Nazi and you’re fired, it’s your fault *clap clap*
          If you’re a Nazi and you’re fired, it’s your fault *clap clap*
          If you were spotted in the mob, and now you’ve lost your job,
          If you’re a Nazi and you’re fired, it’s your fault. *clap clap*

          1. Mallows*

            I would pay for the right to quote this/wear it on a tshirt/put it in an email signature. No lie.

      3. So Very Anonymous*

        I’m conflicted on this, because I do think that if you’re putting yourself out there the way those people in Charlottesville, it shouldn’t be a surprise in this age of social media to find yourself in trouble.

        However, there’s also this story: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/08/14/us/charlottesville-doxxing.html?_r=0 which does raise the question of what happens when the wrong person is identified/doxxed/attacked?

        I don’t quite know what the answer is.

        1. Optimistic Prime*

          There were three people who were misidentifed; one of them was an actual Nazi and simply wasn’t at the rally. Neither of the other two lost their jobs.

      4. Not Who You Think I Am*

        This has already happened. Someone was “outed” to their employer due to looking at photographs. The person wasn’t at the event.

        1. General Ginger*

          If we’re talking about the same person (university sweatshirt) — their employer did their due diligence and stood up for them. They weren’t fired.

          1. So Very Anonymous*

            That’s the key part, then. Due diligence has to happen at some point.

            Employment issues aside, however, doxxing also has personal consequences, and there can be other negative results of being incorrectly identified.

            1. Misidentified*

              This is important. This, right here, is why there are people being labeled as “white supremacist apologists”.

              We are not, at all, worried about the outcome will be for people who deserve it. We’re worried about the outcome will be for those who don’t. Unfortunately that means that if we want to speak up about the issue, we have to speak up against someone who is attacking people who do deserve it. And that’s the point where people forget the difference.

      5. Mike C.*

        Then the employer is stupid for not looking into the issue. Has there actually been a case of this?

        1. Brett*

          This is a different case, but related to Ferguson, many many people lost their jobs and more from either being incorrectly (and often purposely) being identified as connected to law enforcement, identified as a witness, or identified as a rioters.
          It is surprisingly difficult to identify people from photos and video, and easy to convince someone else of a misidentification.

    10. SarahTheEntwife*

      I’m sure there’s plenty of speech that reasonable people could argue both ways on whether it counts as hate speech or just reprehensible opinions, but advocating genocide falls firmly in the “not ok” category.

    11. Jaguar*

      I’ve brought it up here before, but I agree. Free speech is not just a constitutional right. It’s a principle that everyone in a society – and especially a free society – has to contend with. I consider myself deeply liberal and progressive and it’s really worrying to me when people make the “free speech just means the government can’t censor you” or “we can’t debate [ugly issue] because we can’t give these ideas space” comments. I see them in liberal and progressive communities more and more frequently and I’m pretty worried by the draconian and pretty totalitarian implications of them. Thankfully, I’m also seeing more people willing to push against the idea, so I’m hoping we’re moving back to a place of sanity.

      1. extra anon today*

        It worries you when people point out what the first amendment actually says instead of letting people get away with advocating for genocide? I think you need to revisit this line of thought.

        1. Brett*

          Free speech and the first amendment are two different concepts.
          The first amendment protects freedom of speech. It is not freedom of speech.

      2. Delphine*

        Is “moving back to a place of sanity” a place where Nazi ideology is accepted and encouraged under the banner of free speech? The problem with being a Nazi is that you don’t stop at “ideas”, as we all saw very clearly this past weekend.

        1. Jaguar*

          I don’t know what you mean by “accepted” and I don’t know where you get “encouraged” from.

          1. Annabelle*

            You’re bothered by Nazis facing consequences for well, being Nazis. But employers turning a blind eye to someone who espouses those views just serves to normalize them. I think that’s what Delphine means by “accept” and “encourage.”

            1. Jaguar*

              You’re bothered by Nazis facing consequences for well, being Nazis.

              How have you arrived at that conclusion? Where did I say anything like that?

              1. Annabelle*

                You’ve commented multiple times about how much the “doxxing” of these people concerns you. I mean, that pretty clearly sounds like you’re bothered by folks reporting literal Nazis to their employers.

                You’re also placing the notion of “free speech” (as in, it being more than just a constitutional right) above the very legitimate fears of marginalized people. Perhaps you don’t mean to say this, but as a queer WOC, that is precisely how I’m interpreting your comments.

                1. Jaguar*

                  I’m concerned by doxxing of anyone. Admittedly, I’m less concerned about doxxing a bunch of violent white supremacists, but not to the point that I’m willing to suspend my ethical prinicples on the issue of doxxing. I’ll be far less upset when these guys lose their jobs than when, say, a homosexual loses their job for being outed, but I think the level of sympathy you have for the victim is a bad way of dealing with your moral code. And this is related to the broader point I have on people’s ethics around free speech. It’s tempting and satisfying and certainly easy to say, “I’m against the practice of doxxing, but I don’t care when it happens to active white supremacists.” But I also consider that cowardice. I think, when people suspend their moral claims for certain circumstances, there’s real personal danger in that. I don’t trust people who litter their moral code with asterisks. Similarly when people say something equivalent to, “I believe everyone should feel free to speak their minds openly, except when it comes to the issue of [whatever].”

                  I’m not arguing against nuance here. To use the examples of white supremacists and homosexuals again, I obviously think homosexuals should be protected from being fired for who they are and white supremacists shouldn’t. But doxxing is an ugly thing to be personally engaged in, it’s dangerous, and it’s not a practice the people who engage in tend to do with much thought or rigorous fact-checking. I don’t think people get a moral freebie on it in this situation and I’m hard-pressed to think of a situation in which they do. Similarly, I’ve been concerned for a while now by people who I agree with politically or ideologically having a similarly cavalier attitude towards speech. I tend to be very fundamentalist in my feelings on free speech, but I acknowledge and respect more nuanced views on the subject. But what I’m seeing in a lot of leftist places strikes me as crazy, and “free speech just means the government blah blah” and “we can’t afford to debate these ideas” seems like the result of a very regressive idea on speech.

                2. Annabelle*

                  @ Jaguar – I think you’re conflating doxxing with identifying. Doxxing typically refers to posting an anonymous person’s name contact info in a public space. These people were out and about in public and people who recognized spoke up.

                  Also, no one is saying they can’t say whatever the want. But being allowed to say what you think – even when it’s violent and terrible – doesn’t protect you from the consequences of what you’re saying. If your boss thinks your bigotry is a risk to the company, they can fire you (I’m using the general “you” here, not talking about you specifically). I think that’s the nuance you seem to be missing.

                  Additionally – and this is a bit of a diversion, but I think an important note since we’re talking about speech – calling gay people “homosexuals” is sort of on par with calling women “females.” Idk if you consider yourself an ally, but if you do maybe take that into consideration.

                3. Namelesscommentator*

                  Doxxing is using someone’s (presumably anonymous) online behavior and harming them in real life with it.

                  When you, in person, go hang out with nazis, demonstrating that you are a nazi, and the internet finds you it’s not doxxing.

                  You seem to be saying people have an ethical right to keep their identities private after unsavorable activity in the public sphere, when they themselves went to a nazi march and showed their faces HOPING to cause a stir (because why else would you protest something if not to change it???).

                  its like we’ve forgotten the rule of not saying anything you wouldn’t say in real life over email also … belongs in real life? Don’t do anything you’re not able/willing to justify and d you so there are likely to be consequences

              1. Annabelle*

                Not really. There’s an entire thread of Jaguar talking about the risks of outing the marchers.

        1. Jaguar*

          I have. If the moral you took from that book is “limit speech,” I don’t know what to say.

          1. Trout 'Waver*

            It’s not just about the person speaking, though. The audience can choose not to listen, not to associate with the bigots, and choose to ostracize them. It’s way more totalitarian to force people to listen to hate speech and do nothing than it is to let people choose how to respond to hate speech.

      3. serenity*

        it’s really worrying to me when people make the “free speech just means the government can’t censor you”

        Umm, that’s what the concept (at least in the U.S.) of free speech is.

          1. Putting Out Fires, Esq*

            Lots of countries, open democratic countries, have different definitions of free speech. More restrictive, in fact.

            That’s the thing about human-invented rights. They are subject to variation.

          2. serenity*

            I’m not sure what point you’re trying to make, but I like what BPT said above:

            The first amendment is still as intact as it ever was. But for people talking about the concept of “free speech” as being more than the fact that the government can’t infringe upon your right to say things, what exactly do you want as the outcome? Do you want workplaces to be required to keep Nazis on the payroll when they advocate for free speech? Am I supposed to be required to give my time and attention to people espousing racist or sexist views? Are they owed a platform? Do we need to “hear out both sides?”

            My answer is obviously unequivocally no. Your right to free speech is not going away. But there will always remain consequences for it.

            1. Jaguar*

              I haven’t been communicating my point as clearly as I’d like, admittedly.

              I see free speech is an ethical consideration completely separate from its legal status as a constitutional right. In that way, someone in a North Korean gulag can have a belief that people should feel free to say what they believe while someone in the United States can have a belief that people should be censored from speaking certain things (be it as extreme as Nazism or as relatively tame as jokes about people with red hair). I think the respect for this ethic of free speech is wearing out and the method is the insistence that free speech is just a right or the shaming and refusal to engage in discussions when ideas the listener finds offensive come up. This discussion is happening in the context of violent Nazism and it’s hard to find a worse hill to die on, but it’s something I’ve been concerned with in far milder circumstances and I’ve already planted my flag on this hill anyway. Yes, people should know that speaking their mind can and is dangerous, but it becomes less dangerous as a society has a greater tolerance for speech, and it seems like there is an ever growing list of things that people will go after you for if you say (by trying to shame you, going after your job, doxxing you, etc.). I find the whole thing completely repugnant and corrosive to progress and a key contributor in why we’re in such a politicized mess right now. People refuse to listen to opinions they don’t like and actively advocate trying to shut down those discussions. I don’t think there’s any reasonable way for people that engage in that to consider themselves in support of or agents of free speech. The goal of those tactics is to suppress speech.

              1. Data Analyst / Software Engineer*

                I get what you are saying, and I’m with you 100%. What’s the expression, “I’ll defend your right to say it, even if I don’t like what you said?” I fully agree with you that the societal suppression of free speech is in part what’s causing this divide.

                Let us not forget that legal lines were crossed in Charlottesville — someone was murdered. That’s a crime that neither you nor I are defending, that’s for certain.

              2. BPT*

                But what I don’t understand is what that looks like. Why do people need to tolerate hate speech? Legally is one thing, but do you not agree that there are societal consequences for having horrible opinions? What would you see those consequences being? I can tell you right now, I’m not going to engage and listen to someone’s opinion that women are lesser than men, or black people are lesser than white people, or being gay is wrong. There just aren’t two sides to every issue.

                I think this is where America has gone wrong in a lot of ways – thinking that there are two sides to every issue and that everyone deserves to be heard and make their case. It’s why you’ll see news shows have one scientist who acknowledges climate change and a climate change denier on to debate. It makes it seem like the two sides are equal when the absolutely are not.

                Like I just don’t see what good comes in making workplaces keep employees who are racist or requiring people to hear someone spout hate. I won’t engage in a discussion with someone who sees large parts of the human race as sub-human. There’s nothing to be gained from that, and I think it’s much better to force those ideas to be shamed and go underground.

              3. Optimistic Prime*

                Speaking your mind doesn’t necessarily become less dangerous as society has a greater tolerance for speech. It may become less dangerous for the speaker, but not necessarily less tolerance for the speaker’s targets. These are people who are quite literally advocating for the death and degradation of brown people and Jewish people. That is not “less dangerous.” Let’s not forget about us.

                Going after someone because they are a literal Nazi and literally advocate for genocide is not repugnant nor is it corrosive to progress. It is the underpinning of progress itself.

                Yes, I will actively shut down any discussion that questions my humanity as a person and my right to live in the country I and my ancestors were born in (and, frankly, was born on the back of my ancestors’ hard labor). Yes, I will refuse to listen to that opinion. Not every opinion is worth listening to. It doesn’t mean I don’t support free speech. It means I do not support HATE speech and will not give platform nor listening ear to people who question my very right to existence.

                I think there’s this weird American concept that all speech is good and should be given freely, but that’s objectively not true. It is okay to restrict some speech. There may be some hazy lines, but “we should kill all brown people” think is firmly in the Not Hazy camp.

              4. chicken_flavored_deodorant*

                Shaming and refusal to engage in discussions are fully permitted by any sensible concept of free speech. To do otherwise is one-sided and unworkable. Your concept of free speech requires further contemplation.

                In the present situation, Nazis said Nazi crap and the sane part of the country offered commentary about it. Some of that commentary painted the Nazis in a (wholly justifiable) negative light. Boo hoo.

                Free speech doesn’t mean speech free of consequences. Everybody else gets to have their say too.

          3. chicken_flavored_deodorant*

            You appear to believe “free speech” means speech free from consequences. That is not and never was the case.

          4. The Green Lawintern*

            Please refer to the xkcd comic posted above…you can say whatever you want, but no one is obligated to listen to you.

      4. Anonymous 40*

        But nobody is trying to prevent them from speaking. They have a right to speak and they’re doing it. They don’t have a right to be taken seriously or to have their horrific ideas “debated.” Why is it fine for hatemongers to advocate genocide but problematic for others to say they’re unwilling to engage in discussion with them??

      5. Anonygoose*

        Free speech can only be allowed to the point that it infringes on somebody else’s rights. People have a right to not have their lives threatened. Many, many, many free countries that have laws allowing free speech also have laws against hate speech.

      6. LawBee*

        ““we can’t debate [ugly issue] because we can’t give these ideas space” comments. ”

        I’d be really interested in a logical, reasoned, based on fact and science, debate showing the not-wanting-to-kill-me-for-being-gay argument for what happened last weekend. Please. Go ahead.

        Free speech is not free from SOCIAL consequence either, and if that consequence is that people in a community don’t want to hear DR’s racist opinions, that is the consequence he has earned. There’s nothing draconian or totalitarian about that.

      7. Mephyle*

        …it’s really worrying to me when people make the “free speech just means the government can’t censor you” comments
        Actually, people make those comments because it’s what the First Amendment says.

        1. Bookworm*

          Yes. And what else would it mean?

          What if one of your co-workers was walking around telling people how ugly they were? Or reading aloud pornographic works to your children? OF COURSE you’re allowed to respond to that. They don’t just get to claim “free speech” and go about their day.

          1. Jessie the First (or second)*

            YES – Jaguar seems to be operating under the idea that free speech (the vague concept of it, I guess, as opposed to the actual legal meaning of it) goes one way only – the “I get to say what I want and no one can impose social consequences on me for saying it” kind of way.

            But the Nazi’s boss has free speech too. The Nazi’s boss can say “No way on earth am I willing to work with this guy, this is scary, he is violent, get out of here.”

            They have both exercised free speech – the Nazi, for marching and advocating genocide, and the Nazi’s boss, for saying “this is shameful, get out.”

            Setting aside the actual real legal life of the First Amendment and just talking generally about a concept: why should free speech not involve a back and forth? How could it *not* be a back and forth? Someone does and says something, someone else is horrified by it and reacts. That’s… the marketplace of ideas. In the marketplace of ideas, some ideas die. Some ideas need to die. The marketplace of ideas is supposed to hasten the death of bad ideas, in fact. And it does that not by sitting down to seriously debate, with references and footnotes, whether herding millions of people into ovens and killing them is okay or not. It does it by shutting. the idea. the fuck. down. right. now.

            1. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

              “But the Nazi’s boss has free speech too. The Nazi’s boss can say “No way on earth am I willing to work with this guy, this is scary, he is violent, get out of here.”

              What you are basically arguing is that corporations have free speech rights, too, and are exercising them when they say that they will not hire Nazis. I think this is the strongest argument for the proposition that it is legitimate to fire employees for political beliefs.

              I would be curious, however, whether the people making this argument endorse Citizens United, which made the same holding.

              1. Trout 'Waver*

                Nobody’s arguing that. The boss has the power to hire and fire at his own discretion.

                Also, hate speech is not a political belief.

    12. 1.0*

      You know, I kind of agree with you here — I have supported the ACLU for a long time, and I signed up knowing full well that they’ve defended nazis in the past, and NAMBLA, and other groups I think are actively, outright evil, and the reason is because I don’t trust the government further than I can spit. Outlawing nazi demonstrations on the basis of being racial hate speech or obscenity — yeah I don’t trust the government not to turn that around on BLM or gay pride parades, for example.

      But — “nazis are experiencing social consequences” isn’t even close to that, and frankly, “my coworker wants to shove me in an oven and would be happy to see my tiny baby cousins murdered” is inherently a view that disrupts the workplace. I read an article that included the phrase “tolerance is a peace treaty, not a suicide pact” and “socially tolerating” nazis is a suicide pact.

    13. General Ginger*

      The people who ‘disagree with me’ disagree that I have a right to exist. I am not and should not be expected to tolerate that.

    14. my two cents*

      advocating genocide is not a difference in political opinion.

      Look up “14 words” when you get a chance… that’s the battle cry of these garbagepeople nazis.

    15. Delphine*

      If a known Nazi was working in my office, I’d leave. I would never feel safe there, as a woman, as a person of color. How can the existence of a potential threat to my life and the lives of other employees *not* disrupt the workplace?

    16. I GOTS TO KNOW!*

      I do not have to and will not accept hatred around me. This isn’t firing people on the right, firing conservatives who don’t want welfare to be as large as it is or who want a different kind of tax reform. These are people who willingly align themselves and actively participate in a group whose *sole purpose for existing* is the eradication and subjugation of anyone who is not a white christian male. They deserve no tolerance, and they will get no quarter from me.

      Political differences should be tolerated. Being a white supremacist is not a political difference from others. It is fundamentally based in hatred and evil. It cannot be lumped in with political stances. It is not a political stance. It is a disease. It is a cancer to society that must be stamped out before it spreads.

      Calling for tolerance gives Nazis more power. Silence is consent. If you do not condemn, you condone. History tells us so.

      I have no obligation to racists to keep them at my company in the name of “tolerance” and “unity” – no unity can be found with Nazis.

    17. AndersonDarling*

      I struggled with these questions as well. Where is the line? I was thinking from a perspective of legality, and then I started to think about this from a perspective of society. As a society, we can have stricter laws than the ones written in the code books.
      I don’t think this is a right-left situation. If someone is confirmed to promote violence, then I believe society can act accordingly, and in this scenario, acting accordingly would be firing the individual.

    18. Grecko*

      That’s literally all workplace issues though. Everything exists on a spectrum, and the fact that sometimes the lines can be hard to find doesn’t mean that the far ends aren’t obvious.

      Think of it like sexual harassment. Someone getting fired because they grab their coworker’s butt doesn’t mean that someone will get fired for absent minded calling a female coworker “dear”.

    19. LawBee*

      NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE NOPE. A whole world of NOPE. I absolutely 100% refuse to TOLERATE someone who would have me killed simply because of who I fall in love with.

      This “live and let live” stance is disgusting. Agree to disagree is how we got into this mess back in the 40s and are in this mess now. God.

      1. Hlyssande*

        Exactly this. Tolerance and complacency is a major part of how the Nazis came into power in the first place.

    20. Trout 'Waver*

      100% disagree. We do not have to tolerate hate speech, which is by definition intolerance.

      Also, “anyone against Obamacare is a racist” is a caricature liberals and not what anyone on the left (save a few fringe cases) actually believes.

      Also, in regards to Trump voters being by definition being racist, let’s leave that word out of it. Trump has been successfully sued multiple times for racially discriminating against minorities in his properties. He tried to discredit the first black president of the USA by saying that he was a Muslim born in Kenya. He supports policies that make it tougher for minorities to vote. His policies in general disproportionately hurt people of races other than his own.

      A vote for Trump is a vote to put a person in power that has done all the above. Whether that makes a person racist or not is your call.

        1. Trout 'Waver*

          Yes. All those are facts and not moral judgments. People immediately shut down when they’re called racist. But put the facts out there and let people decide for themselves.

    21. Gingerblue*

      “Bob in accounting thinks that I and everyone I love should be murdered” is kinda inherently disruptive. “People who disagree with us” in this case means “People who think we’re subhuman and should be killed.” Why are you so worried about mild social consequences for people who think I should be murdered?

      Can you explain why I’m obligated to put up with people who call for my murder, but they aren’t obligated to not call for my murder? Can you explain why it’s important for me to tolerate people in my workplace who do not tolerate my existence?

    22. Views*

      I’ll never tolerate those who advocate violence. I’ll never tolerate hate speech, which does have a clear and legal definition.

      I feel like you are speaking from a common experience many of us are having these days where we are hearing a lot of criticism of left- or right-ness and many people (on both sides!) are feeling unjustifiably attacked. Just today I read someone’s response to an opinionated article that accused it of being hateful. Nothing in the article advocated violence or even discussed people–just a viewpoint. It was political, and it was about a hot-button topic. So yeah, I don’t think everyone out there commenting on facebook posts is on the same page about what ‘hate’ means.

      But it doesn’t matter, not for this. We agree that white nationalism is hate. We agree that terrorism is hate. We agree that Nazi ideology is hate. We don’t need to nail every other situation down in order to react to this one.

    23. aebhel*

      I’m fine with working with people whose political opinions I disagree with. I have coworkers who voted for Trump; I don’t agree with their politics, but that doesn’t impede my ability to work with them. I am not fine with working with people who want me and people like me dead and are willing to publicly advocate for that belief.

      Here’s a corollary: I work in a public library. I am, as a matter of both policy and professional ethics, not supposed to espouse any particular political views to my patrons. Librarianship is an extremely liberal profession in general, but that doesn’t mean I get to kick someone out for wearing a MAGA hat or requesting a book by Dinesh D’Souza. I am, however, allowed to kick someone out if they use bigoted slurs toward my patrons or staff, and I have in fact done so. Being tolerant of differences of political opinion is a fine thing, but it doesn’t extend to tolerating any kind of speech, and ‘I voted for Trump’ is a hell of a lot different than advocating for ethnic cleansing.

  6. Anon today...and tomorrow*

    “Everyone in the U.S. has a constitutional right to hold whatever opinions they want to hold, and to voice those opinions as long as they do so peacefully. But that right to free speech means that the government can’t punish them for that speech. Private employers, on the other hand, have the right to say they won’t be associated with hate speech (or in this weekend’s case, violence), and can choose to keep that kind of vileness out of their workplaces. I’d argue that employers who do that — and who choose to stand with their black, Jewish, Latino, Muslim, and other non-white employees — are on solid moral ground.”

    Loved all of the answer but this paragraph? I want to stitch it on a pillow and give it to some people I know.

    1. ICanSeeClearlyNow*

      This part: ” I’d argue that employers who do that — and who choose to stand with their black, Jewish, Latino, Muslim, and other non-white employees — are on solid moral ground” …is discriminatory.

      What about white employees who are also offended by white supremacists? It goes to support the whole liberal premise that being white is wrong and white people are immoral/racist because of the color of their skin. I live in a place that is less than 1% white, so I know racial discrimination. Whites makes up 8% of the world’s population, but blame is ascribed to white people 100% of the time. Even calling Obama half white is regarded as some as “racist”.

      Employers should stand with all employees who are against racism (a universal trait btw), not just the non-whites otherwise they are part of the problem.

      1. Optimistic Prime*

        There is no liberal premise that being white is wrong and that white people are immoral because of the color of their skin. That does not exist. Blame is also not ascribed to white people 100% of the time. See also the history of the Western world.

      2. Views*

        > It goes to support the whole liberal premise that being white is wrong and white people are immoral/racist because of the color of their skin.

        This was really sad to read. If you truly believe this is a liberal premise you are buying into rhetoric that seeks only to divide people, and letting emotions and defensiveness cloud your logic.

  7. Katniss*

    I am 100% okay with racists being ousted from decent society in any way. People who support Nazis or ARE Nazis have forfeited their rights to complain about being treated nicely by others. They are a danger to society.

    1. Specialk9*

      Yes, they have forfeited their right to complain about people being mean to them for advocating genocide. But of course they haven’t forfeited their human rights. Which I know you weren’t saying – I’m just saying it to put it out there.

      As someone who the alt right wants dead, I was still really glad the ACLU was fighting for their right to assemble. It was one of the few things lately that made me proud of our democracy.

      1. Sibley*

        the ACLU takes a lot of heat sometimes because of those types of things. But they’re right to do so.

  8. Mike C.*

    I’ve said this before, but I really don’t see a problem with firing people who participate with groups who are on watch lists created by groups like the ADL or the SPLC. It also seems to me that when you’re agitating for white supremacist or against other racial/gender/religious groups, you’re creating a hostile working environment against protected classes. Even if you don’t like the idea of following the lead of the SPLC, a workplace is generally required by law not to allow discrimination against members of protected groups. If you know that employees are actively fighting against these groups, then how can the workplace be free of discrimination?

    You know, in case you need more justification than simple morality.

    1. Shadow*

      This is a slippery slope though. Is it okay to fire say a hobby lobby employee because she was seen at a planned parenthood fundraiser? Or is it okay to fire someone who attends a trump rally bc the company supports Bernie?

      1. General Ginger*

        There is a difference between normal variations in political views and being a member of a hate group.

        1. Shadow*

          Plenty of people advocate against diversity/equality that don’t belong to hate groups. Where do you draw the line for them?

          1. Polar Bear Don't Care*

            If your group advocates against diversity/equality, it might as well be a hate group. So I’d draw the line the same place.

          2. Fiennes*

            That’s going to be up to individual employers. There would be murky/grey situations. Marching at a Neo-nazi rally isn’t one of them.

            1. Tuckerman*

              There are many mainstream religions that do not give equal rights to men and women, especially regarding power/authority within the church. Some religions exclude members for practicing homosexuality. I don’t think most people would consider these churches hate groups, but they advocate against equality.

              1. Trout 'Waver*

                I think the line there is that churches almost always only hold their own members to their code. If they try to enforce those beliefs on the public at large, then yes they would be considered a hate group.

          3. that piano lady*

            If you’re matching at a hate rally waving a Nazi flag, that’s where I draw the line.

            1. Shadow*

              Yeah that’s easy I’m talking about actions that are greyer, like protesting against sanctuary cities or saying something on social media that is anti diversity

              1. New Orleans Resident*

                It depends on context. Being against the removal of civil war monuments is different then marching under a Nazi flag. Saying you do not want each generation to be able to remove monuments built by the last generation is different than expressing your pride in the Confederacy. Having a fondness for how your city skyline looked when you were a child is not the same as camping out to try to physically prevent the removal of a monument. Employers and peers are going to view those behaviors differently.
                Specifics matter as they determine whether you are expressing a position based on hatred, simply have a different perspective, or lack of understanding of a topic.

                1. Shadow*

                  The thing is though intent matters so much and unless you self identify With a nazi flag in your hand or something I’m not sure how you tell the nazi from the person protesting the removal of a monument

              2. that piano lady*

                Let me just put it this way though… being anti diversity and protesting against sanctuary cities are quite different things from flying a Nazi flag, given that the entire MO of Nazism was to MURDER MILLIONS OF PEOPLE.

      2. Grecko*

        That argument doesn’t hold water to me. When it comes to employment decisions EVERYTHING is a matter of degrees. Firing someone for grabbing a coworker inappropriately doesn’t lead to firing everyone who absentmindedly calls someone a patronizing nickname.

      3. Mike C.*

        None of these groups are on watch lists run by the SPLC, so I’m not sure why you’re bringing them up.

        1. Shadow*

          I’m just challenging the notion that employers should be able to fire based on personal views expressed outside of work. I’m not sure where I stand because people have different definitions of what constitutes hateful speech. For example is advocating for the wall or a crackdown on illegal immigration hateful? Is it hateful to challenge diversity programs?

          1. Mike C.*

            Depends on how it’s done. If you end up portraying protected classes in demeaning or threatening ways, then you’re done.

          2. Optimistic Prime*

            Of course employers can fire based on personal views espoused outside of work.

            First of all, yes, advocating for the wall, a crackdown on illegal immigration, and challenging diversity programs can all be hateful things – and employers can be well within their rights to fire employees for any of those things depending on the context. That’s why John Damore got fired last week.

            But we’re talking about people who are advocating publicly for the genocide of entire peoples. It’s not remotely comparable to any of these things. And I am really baffled in an angry way about all the people who are rushing to try to defend this.

          1. General Ginger*

            Right! I honestly don’t understand how “literal Nazis are bad” is at all a controversial statement and why it inevitably brings up the slippery slope fallacy.

            1. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

              You are being obtuse. No sane free speech advocate will disagree with “Nazis are bad.” (Duh. Nazis banned free speech.) The argument is that people who advocate bad positions nonetheless have the right to voice their opinion. And the Supreme Court (which you’re free to disagree with, of course) has repeatedly upheld that right.

              You seem to take the position that we should only allow speech that we agree with, or that advances noble goals.

              1. Optimistic Prime*

                The question, as has been stated repeatedly, is not about whether Nazis have the right to voice their opinion (although the concept of hate speech and whether hate speech should be allowed has also been discussed).

                The question is whether literal Nazis should face social consequences and repercussions for their speech.

                The Supreme Court also upheld Dred Scott and Plessy v. Ferguson for years. They’re not always right.

              2. Akcipitrokulo*

                “You seem to take the position that we should only allow speech that we agree with, or that advances noble goals.” – Admittedly, there are over 1000 comments here, but of the many I have read, NONE have come close to saying that.

        1. Shadow*

          the issue I have people have different definitions of hateful speech. The extremes are easy but I’m questioning if it’s morally right to fire someone when it’s in the grey area and it might or might not be hate speech.

          1. LawBee*

            You’re conflating a few things.
            1. Hate speech is actually defined by law.
            2. Your employer can fire you because you don’t like tomatoes.

            It is not up to employers to make a determination whether something is legally hate speech or not, nor are they required to keep anyone on staff that they do not want to. It’s also morally indefensible to look at literal Nazi sympathizers and try to find a “gray area” where being at a march specifically organized to spread hate and go “aw, but what about their job?”

            1. Shadow*

              Employers don’t usually define hate speech according to law. It’s a very different thing for a company to know ol John has done/said some racist things at work and seeing him on tv at a racist rally. My point is I think many companies seem to tolerate it and only get on this high horse when a media response is required.

              1. sorry i had to*

                Well yeah, of course. Many people tolerate it in their families, their extended circle of acquaintances, whatever because until it gets real, they can find reasons to excuse it away. But those same companies who choose to tolerate it when it’s a known secret can also choose to terminate that person’s employment when it’s a known secret. And if they want to terminate ol’ John for his racist comments at work – they can. There isn’t a gray area here – they have that ability, they have that power. Should they/will they – that’s for them to decide. I’d say yes. Fire ol’ John, and I don’t care if he’s 67. that’s just 67 years of him being a reprehensible human being.

          2. Mike C.*

            Nazis should face repercussions for their terrible beliefs. Losing their job should be among the first on the list.

  9. Bend & Snap*

    I do not get people who are like “Free speech! They’re entitled to their opinions!” or “just ignore them and they’ll go away!”

    It’s hate speech and anyone participating or supporting should be canned without a second thought. Unless the company wants white supremacists representing them.

    1. Bee Eye LL*

      I had this debate on Facebook. I hate seeing people burn American flags but you have the right to do so. I think KKK people are idiots but for the most part they are just a bunch of misguided rednecks. Where I draw the line is with Nazis. The whole purpose of the Nazi regime was genocide – racial cleansing, and so on. They didn’t just advocate mass murder – they actually carried it out. To side with Nazis means you are publicly declaring that you want to kill people, and I don’t think that ought to count as free speech.

      1. BPT*

        No. Do not downplay the KKK. They are dangerous people who advocate for “racial cleansing” and killing of people of color. They are not “misguided rednecks.” They are on the same plane as Nazis. Do not underestimate or coddle the KKK. I can’t believe I actually have to say this.

        1. BPT*

          And I’m not sure why you think the KKK hasn’t carried out murders either – they didn’t just advocate it, they systematically lynched black people. Not sure why you see a difference.

          1. Bee Eye LL*

            Jeez y’all…I am no way in hell defending the KKK. I just don’t think they are quite as bad as Nazi’s. If I knew an employee was an active KKK member I would fire them as well. Just saying, the whole world went to war with the Nazis. They are evil on a much larger scale.

            1. Katie the Fed*

              No, they are LITERALLY just as bad. They just lacked the military equipment/strategy that the Nazis had.

              1. blackcat*

                Yeah, they didn’t commit genocide because they didn’t have the means. If they had the means, they would have.

                They did engage in a campaign of terror, with events very similar to what went down in Germany in the early 30s. Hitler et al were influenced by the American KKK and by American eugenicists. Many in the KKK opposed intervening in the war.

                1. Annabelle*

                  There are still KKK chapters around where I live and genocide is basically they’re goal. They’re essentially just Nazis with southern accents

              2. ThatGirl*

                Let’s be clear too, Nazis literally studied America’s history of oppressing and killing black people as they rose to power – they come from the exact same ideology.

            2. MrsCHX*

              WHAT? More of the what-was-done-to-blacks-isnt-as-bad-as-what-was-done-to-Jews.

              Stop. Just, stop.

            3. Risha*

              Literally the only difference between the Nazis and the KKK is that the former managed to mobilize on a much larger scale than the latter. The KKK has murdered and tortured, what, only thousands or tens of thousands of people?

              1. Risha*

                Leaving this hanging bothered me, so I went and checked, and it looks like around 3960 known dead, but that there were probably a lot more that never got attributed to them.

                1. Katie the Fed*

                  Yeah that number is almost certainly really, really low considering how often the police were in cahoots with the KKK.

        2. Cactus*

          Thank you for saying this. The Klan and the Nazis are both very bad, and when they join together (as they currently are in the US in places like Charlottesville), they’re even worse.

      2. Leatherwings*

        Someone got murdered this weekend by a white supremacist. Allowing certain white supremacists to get away with being white supremacists because their brand of white supremacy is a slightly different than Naziism is pretty dangerous – it allows these people to re-brand themselves over and over again – “alt-right” “nationalist” etc.

        1. Quasi-Constitutional Lawyer*

          How is anyone “getting away” with anything? The white supremacist terrorist who drove his car into the crowd of counterprotestors will be prosecuted.

          1. Optimistic Prime*

            What about the system that enables him? What about the people who support and agree with his cause?

      3. panoptigoth*

        The KKK routinely killed people. Nazis did it at a bigger scale but they’re on the same team.

      4. JB (not in Houston)*

        No no no no. The KKK are not “just a bunch of misguided rednecks.” Please read your history and learn what they still, to this day, advocate.

      5. Katie the Fed*

        ” I think KKK people are idiots but for the most part they are just a bunch of misguided rednecks. ”

        Sweet jesus, no. Please read some history about the thousands and thousands of lynchings that took place.

        1. seejay*

          This is like saying measles isn’t as bad as smallpox because the former only killed 200 million instead of 300-500 million worldwide for the latter.

          *Killing people for racially motivated reasons is evil, the scope and scale shouldn’t be used to minimize it*

        2. Cactus*

          Also the “just some rednecks” line of thinking kind of lets them off the hook for their actions in another way: it’s like saying “oh, he didn’t know any better.” KKK members were never just a bunch of backwoods stereotypes: they have often been people in positions of power in their communities, of varying levels of education. It’s easy to write them off as stupid, but that… is probably a dangerous mistake. Never underestimate your enemies.

      6. Optimistic Prime*

        Misguided rednecks -?

        You do know that they kill and maim people, right? Can you please like seriously go crack open a book or even a Wikipedia article on the KKK right now?

      1. Specialk9*

        Again, it’s important to remember that “free speech” does not protect you from the consequences of hate speech. You are certainly free, gloriously and democratically free, say horrible things without the secret police arresting you like in a dictatorship. You will have to deal with the consequences of your using your freedom, by how other citizens respond to realizing you’re horrible. The Constitution protects you from prison and torture, not censure and ostracism.

    2. Anonymous 40*

      All the people worrying about “free speech!” for hate groups seem to ignore that the backlash is other people exercising their own right to free speech.

    3. Batshua*

      I mean, did this work with bullies in elementary school and middle school?

      NO. IT DID NOT.

      But those kids weren’t actually trying to kill me, so I had to suck it up and deal.

  10. TotesMaGoats*

    What about the people who were wrongly identified? Do you then have to prove, and how would you, that you weren’t there touting racist beliefs? When the internet mob puts you forward as a racist and you aren’t, what recourse do you have? Is “eh, better safe than sorry” a good place for an employer to make decisions from? Is one picture taken by a stranger going to trump (sorry) your own espoused beliefs or do you need to share all your facebook photos to prove you were a counter protester. I don’t know that there is an easy answer to this.

    I’m not disagreeing with Alison. Not at all. I think her response is completely on point.

      1. Delphine*

        It’s always a trip seeing people describe counter-protesters or people who are identifying the Nazis at last weekend’s gathering with negative language like “vigilante justice mobs”. What do you think Nazis are? Law-abiding knitting clubs?

        1. Scarlott*

          You’re intentionally misreading. I never implied Nazis are law abiding. Suppose they mistakenly identify YOU. It’s funny how when these sort of issues are pointed out, everyone is quiet. When is it morally wrong for a society to punish someone by way of unlawful attacks (vigilantism)? When they get the wrong person, and an innocent person’s life is ruined.

          1. Delphine*

            I was just commenting on your word choice, and the words I’ve seen others use to describe people identifying Nazis.

            The fact is, I’m part of a group that is regularly misidentified in crimes–often by law enforcement–and it never results in quite as much discussion when it happens to us. It’s just seen as a part of doing business and keeping (keyword: other) people safe.

            1. Scarlott*

              Nitpicking my word choice is against the rules of the forum. I’m sorry your group of people get’s mis-identified. No one should have to go through that.

              1. Trout 'Waver*

                Calling the other side a vigilante justice mob is a mischaracterization and preempts discussion.