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Nose Meets Fist

The variously-attributed adage about extent of the right to swing one’s arm ending at another’s nose is facile, wrong, and is not the way our society and our laws work. “Yes, by all means you must let me walk up and swing my fist just short of your nose. Won’t hit you, I promise! It’s my right! I’m not actually harming you, see?” It’s not an exercise of rights. It’s assault. Who is willing to argue it’s unjust that one can be arrested and jailed for it? Similarly, our rights to free speech do not extend to “I’m going to kill you.” Also assault.

So we can see there is a lot of grey area in these inalienable rights of movement and speech. What are the gradations between “I’m going to kill you,” “I will forcibly remove you from this place,” “I will threaten you until you leave this place,” “I will work to legislate your systematic removal from this place,” “I will work to legislate your systematic disenfranchisement”? The last two are the bare minimum of where we’re at in the US with the alt-right white nationalists. There are individuals who are tragically hitting all points on that spectrum, but as a whole the white nationalist alt-right is aiming for at least establishing political apparatus to legally ensure white dominance in the US and the West. There are those who are full on separatists and want to remove others through whatever means proves most expedient through genocide and forced or “voluntary” emigration. And at the other end of the spectrum those who use indirect tactics like voter disenfranchisement and opposing the use of affirmative action to rectify structural inequality.

They’re all racist white supremacists, whether de jure or de facto. The question I’m asking myself now in light of the current US political climate is: what is the material difference between “I’m going to kill you” and “I’m going to advocate for policy whose ultimate end is your forced emigration, confinement, or extermination”? What is the material difference between illegally killing someone (or entire classes of people) and systematically working to change the legal infrastructure of society such that their murder is legal?