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Nazis in Skokie
Transcript of Nazis in Skokie
Professor of Political Science at UW -Madison
Received his Ph.D at UC Berkeley and his B.A. at Cornell University
Author of Nazis in Skokie
Wrote many other books on the subject of free speech and
Academic Freedom What Happened in Skokie Biography of Donald Downs Looking Deeper into the Courts Ruling Cont. Skokie Citizens Resistance community groups were put in place to help survivors reintegrate into society
" we are a group left without family....we have the families that we have built now."
many are still not assimilated into the new American culture clung to their jewish community and sough tot protect it.
Survivors in Skokie had known about Collins before, but now attacking their homes and families in their new community
Downs argues that the bond between the survivors proved to be stronger than their bond with their larger community and American Culture Cont.
Downs states that " the psychological meaning of communality blends with the psychology of the individual survivor to create a special trauma triggered by the recurrence of the symbolization of Nazism targeted at the community."
Psychological trauma and need to protect their new community would have occurred Cont. Questions By Donald Downs Presentation By:
Nicole Mofsie, Crystal Keele, Thomas Hurst, and Joey Gervais The NSPA led by Frank Collin chose the town of Skokie to be the place for their next pro nazi demonstration
Skokie was a predominately Jewish community with 1 and 6 residences being holocaust survivors
Skokie put forth ordinances of insurance that financially stopped Collins demonstration.
Skokie officials received a court injunction to prevent the Nazi demonstration from happening
Collin's then sued Skokie for violating his 1st amendment rights
received help from the ACLU
The Illinois Supreme Court had ruled in Collins favor Court ruled in favor of Collin February 23rd 1978
Judge Decker ruled " it is better to allow those who preach racial hate to expend their venom in rhetoric rather than to be panicked into embarking on the dangerous course of permitting the government to decide what its citizens may say and hear" Criticisms David Garrow Critizes:
Downs indicates he was deeply connected to the holocaust survivors and his sympathy seriously distorts his analysis of this event
This resulted in a provocative but badly flawed constitutional analysis
His own criticism about the ACLU taking up Collin's case shows his bias towards the situation and his interviewees
Downs argument to restrict free speech can lead to a slippery slope in future cases What were Frank Collins Intentions extremist, driven by emotions of self-hate
was half jewish and decedent of a holocaust survivor
targeted a vulnerable group to insight threat of violence to intimidate the community
his efforts were not to fight for free speech but rather use it as a veil
used Skokie as a media drawing tool to get message out
with media attention he convinced himself and followers that his illusion of power and ability to create disorder was working Neutrality ruling:political speech cannot be abridged unless it infringes on unwilling listeners, constitutes for direct incitement of unlawful behavior, or interferes with legitimate activities regardless of content or implications of speech
though is meant to promote social justice, there is also room for abuse
In this case speech is being used to inflict pain and emotional trauma on one specific group of people should the court have taken the emotions of the victims into account?
Should the threat of violence have altered the court ruling?
Should the people of Skokie have acted differently to the threat of Collins, instead of adding fuel to his fire?
Would this case have gone as far as it did had the town not be predominately jewish
Should the court have viewed the NSPA as a political organization or as racist antisemitic group Down's suggestions for Reform Skokie Citizen arguement "But now we must be strong and not be silent.We cannot afford to be weak.We have got to fight"
Down argues that this is the same language and emotions made by republican virtue, those who advocated for free speech, such as Brandeis, Meiklejohn, and Mill "we had obligation to the past, to those killed, to bear witness"saw themselves as having to make up for their actions of not being able to fight back during the holocaust Skokie people looking for protection from assaultive speech which under Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire is not protected under the 1st amendment.
words that will address to violence
Thought the protection of Collins speech was a violation on their rights of survivors to be secure in reconstituted community
1st amendment meant to express opposite opinion of the government, or other opinions but not one to call to kill a certain group of people Cont. Cohen v. California points used:
one man's vulgarity is another man's lyric
limited circumstances under which a speech act could be designated fighting words to captivate situations when the target has no reasonable means of escape
prior restraints of expression must satisfy a high burden of justification Intent Downs argues for constitutional abridgment when these three points are found in speech and expression
violence or death advocacy against a race or ethnic group
speech that is derogatory or vilifying though not expressed with violence and threat
targeted symbolic expression with intent to demean or intimidate "intent to harm should be present before an abridgment of the speech right is justified"
how to decide issue of intent:
basis of the content of the expression and way of presentation
to put burden of proof on the person whose expression is in question to prove lack of intent to vilify or intimidate
ex leaflets, press statements, NSPA platform, and previous demonstrations Targeting "It is targeting which makes vilification intimidating and therefore substantial enough to harm to justify abridgment of speech"
all situations where expression can be pointed at or directed toward a particular target
can find evidence of target from he nature of the speech act
Downs asks the jury to not just look at the presentational views but rather look at all relevant evidence in the speech What others have to say about Free Speech "The 1st amendment is not primarily a device for the winning of new truth.. it is the purpose to give every voting member of the body politic the fullest possible participation"-Meiklejohn
"The peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion is that it is robbing the human race; ... If the opinion os right, they are deprived of the opportunity of exchanging error for truth; if wrong, they lose, what is almost as great a benefit, the clear perception and livelier impression of the truth, produced by its collision with errors." John Stuart Mill
"Fear of serious injury cannot alone justify suppression of free speech and assembly. Men feared witches and burnt women. It is the function of free speech to free men from bondage of irrational fears"- Louis Brandeis