In his letter here on Oct. 5, Phillip C. Smith attempts to protect free speech. He referred to a Salt Lake City School District yearbook which included the statement, “There are two genders and a lot of mental illness,” and how an administrator took umbrage from it.
Mr. Smith lays out a case against using the term “hate speech,” yet he states the administrator’s criticism is hate speech. He states hate speech is name-calling. He overlooks how people using the term hate speech are reacting to name-calling.
Mr. Smith closes by making an appeal to a “return to real civility and kindness.” To be clear, Mr. Smith is advocating for a society that supports calling gay citizens mentally ill, and this is civil and kind. It seems he needs a lesson in civility and kindness.
Moreover, this attack on civility and kindness in the name of freedom of speech is consistent with the work of white supremacist and other hate groups who have pressured the Republican National Committee into adopting a resolution titled “Refuting the Legitimacy of the Southern Poverty Law Center to Identify Hate Groups.”
This attack is in the same vein as Donald Trump’s claim of “very fine people” on both sides of the 2017 Charlottesville rally and murder of an innocent demonstrator by a white supremacist.
America needs to stand against the twisted rhetoric of groups like QAnon and the Family Research Council, and individuals like Stephen Bannon, Stephen Miller and Mr. Smith. True civility and kindness demand it.
John Woeste, Salt Lake City