As the whole world has come to know by now, Floridian George Zimmerman was found not guilty on Saturday, July 13, 2013, of second-degree murder and manslaughter in the death of Trayvon Martin. Now there is talk of federal prosecutors possibly prosecuting Zimmerman under a new federal hate crimes law since, though Zimmerman was acquitted, Zimmerman’s killing of Martin is still believed by some to have been racially motivated. Mere days before the Zimmerman verdict, however, Galesburg, Illinois Animal Control Officer Chris King was embroiled in what was made out to be a hate-speech type of situation of his own. To tell this story properly I must back up a bit…
Galesburg, Illinois resident Ron Schofield was out walking his Boxer “Bosco” on Sunday night, July 7, 2013, when Bosco was attacked by a so-called “pit bull,” and Bosco ran away. Schofield spent the rest of the night and into the morning looking for Bosco. (As an aside, the attacking dog in question was described as a big ” really big “pit bull.” Well, if he is referring to a Staffordshire Bull Terrier, they don’t get to be more than 45 pounds. If he’s referring to an American Staffordshire Terrier or American Pit Bull Terrier, they don’t get to be larger than about 60 pounds. So perhaps Mr. Schofield means a mastiff, since those are really big dogs commonly mistaken for so-called “pit bulls.” Although, since ordinances define everything as “pit bulls” nowadays from AmStaffs to mastiffs, what constitutes a “pit bull” tends to change from day-to-day. What doesn’t change is that “pit bull” is not a breed and I’ve just demonstrated why.)
Bosco limped home Monday morning and Mr. Schofield attempted to file a complaint against the attacking dog’s owner at the Prairieland Animal Welfare Center. Unfortunately, it was Mr. Schofield who left Prairieland with a ticket because, according to Prairieland, Schofield’s dog, Bosco, hadn’t been registered, though Mr. Schofield disputes this claim. Mr. Schofield does acknowledge that due to his exhaustion, he did get “belligerent” at Prairieland because he couldn’t understand why they had made him and Bosco their focus, when, he believed the attacking dog’s owner should have been ticketed (and eventually the individual in question was ticketed).
Prairielands Animal Control Officer Chris King then claimed that,
…Schofield verbally attacked him, uttering slurs based on sexual orientation. Schofield and his daughter deny that charge. King has witnesses who heard the slurs.
Schofield was arrested and charged with harassing an animal control officer.
I understand Mr. Schofield being upset, King said. And yes, he has the right to be upset with me. He even has the right to yell at me or question my actions.
So, does no one find it odd that Mr. King is more upset at the sexual-orientation slur rather than the fact that Mr. Schofield got belligerent? Belligerence meaning “a warlike or aggressively hostile nature, condition, or attitude.” Unless the word ‘belligerent’ was misused here, does Mr. King mean to say he felt more threatened by words than he did by Mr. Schofield’s “aggressive” or “hostile nature”?
Mr. King went on to say that,
…he didnt have the right to use slurs against me. He doesnt have the right to harass me.
King made it clear that he didnt ask for Schofield to be arrested for complaining about dog policies. Or for questioning him. King made the request because no one should be slurred.
So yes, Mr. King had Mr. Schofield arrested for ‘hate speech’ rather than that Mr. Schofield was allegedly threatening or harassing him! In other words, Mr. Schofield was arrested not for belligerence, but for merely exercising his 1st amendment right to freedom of speech.
And yes, I know that the 1st amendment doesn’t mean it’s okay to threaten a public official, but as Mr. King noted, he had Mr. Schofield arrested for Mr. Schofield’s alleged sexually-oriented slurs, not his belligerence. And I find it interesting that Mr. King had Mr. Schofield arrested a mere few days before George Zimmerman was found ‘not guilty’ in the death of Trayvon Martin, which had many very angry Americans calling for Zimmerman to be tried for a hate crime. And this too after Paula Deen was publicly vilified and turned into a pariah overnight for using the ‘N’ word some 30 years ago. Yes, the Paula Deen debacle, the Zimmerman verdict, and the Prop 8 Supreme Court decision, all seem connected by this push to try out the brand spankin’ new federal ‘hate speech’ law
Still, hopefully in this day and age people are more enlightened than to think it’s okay to use the ‘N’ word or sexually-oriented slurs or any kind of derogatory epithet. But on the flip side do we really need to be prosecuting people for exercising their 1st amendment rights to free speech simply because we don’t like what they have to say? Voltaire put it this way,
“I may not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
Should we likewise be trying people like Paula Deen in the court of public opinion for a word she misused 30 years ago? A word which she agrees now is offensive and inappropriate which is why she hasn’t used it in the 30 years since?
And if the political correctness police want to censor people or prosecute them for so-called ‘hate speech,’ then shouldn’t they get their story straight first? For instance, tell us, uniformly, what it is we should and should not say. If gay epithets are universally unacceptable, then why are gay jokes constantly being made on Family Guy, American Dad, or even The Simpsons? Right, because telling Family Guy creator Seth McFarlane to stop making gay jokes would be censorship (which I don’t agree with either), and yet now we have people being arrested for sexually-oriented slurs.
Well, can you blame society for being confused? And if the ‘N’ word is a no-no, then perhaps African-Americans should stop using it! And no, using the ‘N’ word or a gay epithet because you’re African-American or gay is not a reclamation of an offensive word; it’s just renewing it for the public vernacular. But again, can you see why people are confused?
Likewise, why do I keep hearing the words “cracker” or “gringo” to describe white people? If racial epithets against African-Americans and Latinos are no-nos for white people to say, then racial epithets against white people ought to be no-nos for minorities to describe white people. That’s right, counter-racism is still racism, and “cracker” is just as cringe-worthy as the ‘N’ word.
Like I said, the political correctness police needs to get on the same page and uniformly instruct people what is acceptable to say and what isn’t, and even then, if someone chooses to use an unacceptable word, well, then we also have a 1st amendment right to politely ask a person not to use those words until inevitably they become extinct from our vernacular. Prosecuting someone for ‘hate speech,’ however, is an un-American violation of the 1st amendment. What’s next, making profanity illegal? I mean, come on!
Yes, ask yourself if you want to live in the nanny-state Orwellian world of 1984 wherein a person must constantly be mindful of what they say and can never slip up or accidentally say something they don’t mean because they’ve had a bad day or were under undue stress. Because what happens in the 1984 world when someone slips up? They suffer some pretty dire consequences.