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Sunday, October 11, 2020

Governor Whitmer, Updating Laws, and Thwarting Extremism and Hate Groups

We have been reading about and discussing the horrendous nature of an extremist group that sought to abduct a governor. Extremism has been on the rise for over a decade and must be dealt with. I know first hand the destructive power of extremism and hate.  Michigan should consider rewriting and reorganizing the laws that will protect citizens against coordinated hate/extremists groups in a way that effective and respectful for differences of opinions. 

First, let me say that there is a difference between sharing an opinion in the spirit of learning from each other and the desire to seriously harm your target. We can see the difference between a polite disagreement and assaulting someone who won't accept your point of view. While the governors case put into national spotlight these behaviors, crimes are committed on the local level without as much fanfare.

The behavior this group engaged isn't isolated to only them. It exists within a contextual peer group and in turn found a semi-supportive environment. That doesn't mean most people hold the same viewpoint but that they create an environment where hate can breed. Freedom of speech doesn't free us from the responsibility of our speech. 

When people engage in coordinated hate crimes they seek to draw in as many people as possible to legitimize their beliefs . I've seen it happen in real life multiple times. I've seen how one "influencer" can confuse and gain supports for very dysfunctional beliefs.  We have to do better in standing up to hate behavior, supporting those who are willing to stand up, and ensuring we properly prosecute such behavior. 

I'm not sure how such a law would look but I have a few ideas that relate to coordinated activity, seeking to encourage others to harm the target, using violence (or threat of violence) to harass, intimidate, or subjugate people to the wishes of the aggressor. I suspect that such a law would written to focus on covering the grey areas between terrorism and hate based harassment. From what I saw there are laws that cover specific aspects of behavior but I haven't seen one that fully addresses this domestic terrorism type behavior. I'm also not an attorney so don't take what I say as the final word. 

As of yet I'm not sure if the perpetrators in the case I have been familiar with have been held to account. I'm also not the person that would be in the "know" of such things. However, I don't think a warning would be enough for the grotesque nature of the behavior. It went beyond bad choice to something more aggressive that was an attempt to cause serious harm. While I recognize the mental health aspects involved there should be some level of accountability that includes at the very minimum therapy and a psychological assessment.

You can watch the video below. We should make a differentiation between belief and the act of preparing to do someone harm. This is not for or against any political viewpoint or belief system. It is just a video that highlights some of the thinking of this group. I have seen similar type radical beliefs on the other side of the spectrum as well. Its a problem when we seek to radicalize the fringes at the expense of the more rational reasonable middle. 

For now I'm going to continue to work on climbing Everest and raising the awareness for universal justice. 

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