I know what I would do -- call CNN and have them send out a reporter!
Actually, although I meant that last sentence facetiously, alerting the local and national media does seem like a good idea. Maybe CNN's report will bring enough attention to this sign to get that woman to take it down.
(For anyone who can't see the video, it's a brief report about a woman in Texas who has a very visible sign on her house that reads "HISPANICS KEEP OUT.")
Aside from what you might do if this were your neighbor, what do you suppose your neighborhood in general would do? Would they, like this woman's neighbors, decline to make any official complaints, because putting up with her sign is their way of practicing "tolerance"?
Is practicing tolerance for such intolerant speech really "tolerance"? I guess it is, technically, but it's not my kind of tolerance. Anyway, I don't even care much for the notion of tolerance itself in these matters -- what are really you saying about someone when you say that you're willing to "tolerate" them?
In a situation like this, if you or your neighbors were not Hispanic, would you or they find ways to reach out to any Hispanic families in the neighborhood?
This incident also makes me wonder about the dividing line between protected "free speech" and unprotected "hate speech." "Speech" of this sort -- not only things people say, but also what they display on signs, bumper stickers, t-shirts, coffee mugs, and so on -- often gets defended in the U.S. as "free speech." When Americans do that, they're basically saying, "Hey, you may not like it, but it's a free country. People can say whatever they want."
But if this kind of racist, hateful speech is protected by the United States' First Amendment, what kind of racist, hateful speech is not protected by it? I mean, how much worse than this woman's racist, highly visible sign does it have to get before such speech can be shut down?
My understanding is that for one thing, hate speech is not protected if it clearly and directly seeks to incite some sort of violence. But if that's the dividing line, isn't the definition of "violence" rather open to interpretation? If I saw such a sign in my neighborhood, telling Hispanics or any other group of people to "KEEP OUT," I'd consider my having to see it every time I go for a walk an act of violence. Not to mention the painful effects it would have on any non-white people driving by, or living in the neighborhood.
And surely this sign does encourage violence against any Hispanic families that might live in the neighborhood. But then, I suppose, it doesn't explicitly, directly encourage such violence. It just orders them to "KEEP OUT," as in, "stay off my property." It doesn't tell Hispanics to keep out of this neighborhood or town, although the "tolerance" of the neighbors for her sign may well do that.
Maybe the best cure for hate speech of this sort is, as they say, more speech. (Maybe that kind of cure should be called "love speech.") Should neighbors who find this woman's free speech a distressing, injurious disgrace find ways to drown hers out? Maybe by putting up signs of their own?
HISPANICS WELCOME HERE!
EVERYONE ELSE TOO!
EVERYONE ELSE TOO!
Maybe someone should print up a bunch of signs like that, and then go to that town at three in the morning, and stick one in everyone's yard (including this woman's, of course). Then come back in a day or two and see how many are still there.
That might also give a better idea of just how "tolerant" this neighborhood really is. And who knows, it might be even help to make it more tolerant.