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Peaceful Protest

Decent Essays
Protests throughout history have sparked controversy in both their subject matter and execution, calling into question the true value they impart. Peaceful resistance is a key element in the development of a free society as it facilitates a wide breadth of actions from the raising of awareness and the greater dissemination of ideas all the way to active change in laws and government.
Wide dissemination of ideas and changes to the law were products of the gay rights movement. In the 1960’s gay rights were practically nonexistent. The government was unconcerned with protecting the physical safety of gay people as evidenced by violence against the gay community which went completely unpunished. The government and law enforcement did not
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Questions about what should be protected under free speech have arisen, causing this country to question how far free speech should truly extend, some arguing that certain speech or protest works to harm society, not advance it. In 1977 members of the Nazi Party of America announced their intention to walk through Skokie, Illinois in Nazi regalia carrying swastikas. Skokie, a majority Jewish community and the home to many Holocaust survivors, erupted in anger as the residents attempted to stop the Nazis from marching. Residents of Skokie and sympathizers across the country argued that the protest aimed to incite hate against a particular religious group and inflict emotional harm. Many agreed with this point of view but the ACLU stepped in to protect the rights of the Nazi Party and their rights to free speech as protected by the 1st Amendment. The ACLU and the Nazis were successful and they retained their right to march wherever they wanted and say whatever they pleased. Although their speech was undoubtedly hateful and hurtful they still had the right to share their ideas. (Bekiempis) In response to the march residents of Skokie decided to open a Holocaust memorial museum in order to combat hatred with education. (Stone) The ultimate goal of any peaceful resistance is to spread ideas and influence the minds of the population. In the case of Skokie the march illuminated a problem in society - the prevalence of excessive anti semitism. This realization informed many of the need for more Holocaust education, leading to the improvement of society. Even when a protest or peaceful resistance appears harmful or detrimental to a society, in the end the society is better off allowing it to
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