This article, written by Donovan Emerson, was published at The Daily Interlake on 22 November, 2014.
I will preface my defense of Mr. Richard Spencer of Whitefish by stating that I am a member of the Landless Littleshell Tribe of Montana and a Metis (may-tee). This is a French word meaning “mixed blood,” generally referring to those whose ancestry is a combination of French, Scottish, or Irish fur trappers and traders and American Indians.
In the 1800s, my ancestors served as a bridge between European settlers and the Indians. They were a respected and accepted part of society until the arrival of affluent white women who later decided that they didn’t like our marital and other cultural traditions. They didn’t like the way we spoke, or the way we acted. Many Metis were marginalized, shipped to the Canadian plains in unheated boxcars and abandoned in the dead of winter. They survived and found a way to live on the fringes of society, most notably in the shacks and hovels surrounding Great Falls on “Hill 57.” For decades they suffered the abuse of those who felt themselves superior to these mongrels, and there were no laws in place to protect them.
Something similar is beginning with the “Love Lives Here” debacle in Whitefish. There are two groups who are strong advocates for their belief systems, hoping to change hearts and minds. One wishes to express its beliefs by sharing different ideas; the other wishes to use the force of law to promote its agenda, and silence the other.
“Love Lives Here” doesn’t like the way Mr. Spencer speaks or acts. From the articles in the Inter Lake, I have not seen that he is advocating violence of any kind, or trying to force anyone to adhere to his belief system in any way. Not true of “Love Lives Here.” They want to tell Mr. Spencer (and if there is a law enacted, everybody else), what words he can use, and when, where, what he can discuss. This is frightening to me, and I view it as a direct assault on my rights to free speech and thought.
Over the milennia, humans developed words as tools to help our minds work with concepts and ideas, the basis of thought and the growth of intelligence. Those who seek to limit the use of words seek also to limit ideas and stifle intellectual growth. Perhaps also a sign of limited intelligence. I
f the law passes, who will be the arbiters of what “hate” is? The term “no hate law” is juvenile in itself. If I hate hate, will the law apply to me? What if I hate road construction and traffic jams? Will I be subject to a fine or relocation? One cannot legislate negative emotions out of existence. While we’re at it, let’s pass laws against greed, envy, lust, and maybe even smug self-superiority.
As my ancestors understood, it’s not the hate that damages you; it’s violence and being denied access to resources that can kill a culture, and there are already laws in place to stop that. What this amounts to is an attempt to run Mr. Spencer out of town on a rail (car?) because a small group doesn’t like the way he thinks or speaks.
Maybe he can be relocated to an isolated spot out on the Montana plains. Perhaps “Love Lives Here” might pay him the occasional visit with some helpful literature to make him understand where he went wrong... and (by the way) maybe your ideas are next?