Nicholas Goldberg: We rarely prosecute bigots and racists who spew hate speech. And rightly so. But the question we should be asking is why do we feel the need to prosecute.
The reason we’ve heard more than once this week is because I’m talking again about the prosecution of Richard B. Spencer in the case of Richard Spencer: Alt-Right leader.
The idea of being racist and bigot is one of the worst crimes on the globe. And for me, it’s as fundamental as being malevolent.
The prosecution of Richard Spencer in the case of Richard Spencer: Alt-Right leader, based on the claim that he incited violence, and incited fear and racism by standing alone, in the middle of a crowd at a gathering, is as bigoted and offensive as any prosecution that we’ve seen in our entire history.
It was a gross misuse of police powers, based on the flimsy claim which the prosecution used to get the conviction. But the idea that these kinds of claims could be used to prosecute, based on the mere allegation of incitement, is the sort of idea that we now live with. It’s the sort of idea that we, once upon a time, condemned.
In fact, the idea that Richard Spencer could face prosecution is in many ways a welcome sign. Because it means that we are finally starting to see these bigots for what they are.
And it also means that we don’t have to live in fear that someone like Richard Spencer is going to unleash the kind of violence which we have seen in Charlottesville.
The prosecution itself came about because of a petition for an injunction was filed. People who wanted to see Richard Spencer prosecuted sued. And that’s illegal in most states.
In our country, civil lawsuits like that aren’t allowed. It’s a big no-no when you use the courts to seek relief for yourself.
The prosecution of Richard Spencer was