While walking the dog I encountered a cable box a block from my house with graffiti on top: “Kill an immigrant 2017. Happy new year! Die traitors U.S.A.”
It is the kind of message many of us worried was being validated in the presidential campaign. Permission to hate was an abstraction likely to happen on the internet or in other places than my neighborhood. Guess again. It is in my neighborhood; one of the “gentrified,” North Slope, view, couldn’t-happen-here kind of places.
I’ve not encountered much outrage in reporting it. “Probably just kids.” Which is even worse if you think about what kind of validation at home and in the community allowed them to express their hate.
Freedom of speech is valuable when it is responsible – owned and accountable. Anonymity by internet or graffiti undermines opportunity for dialog, response, and sharing community values.
The “word” precedes the “deed.” The words create permission. Recall infamous recent hate crimes. My fear becomes real.