Poll: Nazi symbolism

  • Thread starter nitsuj
  • Start date

Nazi Symbolism graffiti:

  • Should be removed upon notice in any public space, no matter the visability.

    Votes: 10 45.5%
  • Should be removed only if it really is an "eyesore". The symbolism doesn't escalate the urgency.

    Votes: 9 40.9%
  • I am a nazi, so I appreciate the art. :smile:

    Votes: 3 13.6%

  • Total voters
    22
  • #26
Ryan_m_b
Staff Emeritus
Science Advisor
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Perhaps I misunderstood, so I'll convey my understanding of your post:

You said a Nazi symbol in graffiti is worse than art in graffiti, right? The fundamental difference between the two is the message: one is positive or neutral and the other is hateful. So hateful graffiti would be a different (more serious) crime than artful graffiti due to the included hateful message.
Yes that's my point.
Is any of that a misunderstanding of your post? This implies to me that if the same two pieces of graffiti were instead painted on a canvas and hung in an art gallery, one should still be censored -- as in my understanding, it would be in many European countries.
I don't agree that this follows, also there isn't that much censorship of Nazi behaviour in Europe. In Germany yes but I'm not aware of much elsewhere.
Perhaps the question I need to ask you is: worse how/in what sense? If the answer is that it is worse because it is posted on a synagogue, then I think you misread the post you were responding to.
I used my example of on a pub/church to highlight the difference but regardless of where it is put a hateful symbol is a hateful symbol. The real debate comes with what constitutes a hateful symbol e.g. is taking offence enough? How much should author intent matter? etc
 
  • #27
russ_watters
Mentor
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Yes that's my point.
Ok - well that is what I was disagreeing with. The two acts are, in the US anyway, Constitutinoally identical unless you add to them a specific target of the speech. But the post you were responding to, there was no target. You added that.
I don't agree that this follows, also there isn't that much censorship of Nazi behaviour in Europe. In Germany yes but I'm not aware of much elsewhere.
France as well, but I didn't read through the whole list to see what other countries might have similar censorship: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-Nazism
I used my example of on a pub/church to highlight the difference but regardless of where it is put a hateful symbol is a hateful symbol.
But that's just it: you didn't highlight a difference, you created one. Adding (changing) a target completely changes the crime. Heck, if you paint a swastika on a synagogue the graffiti charge becomes pretty much irrelevant!
The real debate comes with what constitutes a hateful symbol e.g. is taking offence enough? How much should author intent matter? etc
That's my point: in the US, taking offense is not enough. It has to have a target to be a worse crime than ordinary graffiti.
 
  • #28
131
2
France as well, but I didn't read through the whole list to see what other countries might have similar censorship: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neo-Nazism

Something I think might be relevant to your point: Laws agains Holocaust denial.

Note, though, that I'm from Europe myself, and I don't particularly like this. Personally, I think people should be able to say the Holocaust didn't happen - most sensible people will then either laugh at them for being stupid or ignore them because they're being awfully rude. Criminalizing such opinions, however, sets an extremely bad precedent! While I don't care so much about this particular case, it's one of those things that under the 'right' circumstances can be used to implement a law that forbids opinion X, and that I dislike.
 
  • #29
505
0
Imho, graffiti, in general, is a rather ugly and inefficient way of communicating. If somebody really has something important to say, then I think they should say it in well reasoned and researched letters, essays, treatises, books, etc.

So, yeah, in general, I'm in favor of the removal of any and all graffiti from public surfaces. It's just a rude and sort of violent intrusion on our implicit (and to a certain extent, publicly mandated) agreement to treat each other with respect.

As for Nazi graffiti, I don't recall ever seeing it. And I've lived in several highly populated urban areas.

So, just from my personal experience, which isn't all that extensive, there doesn't seem to me to be much of a Nazi or Nazi graffiti problem in the US. But of course I don't really know.

EDIT: I'm not sure why the WWII Jewish holocaust was mentioned, but I'll just say that there seems to be a rather large body of physical evidence supporting the contention that it in fact occurred and that it was a deliberate sort of ethnic cleansing carried out by the ruling Nazi party in Germany and in adjacent regions during the '30s and '40s.

A similar thing occurred wrt Native Americans in the US. So, it would seem that historically astute Americans should be able to identify with and understand this sort of thing ... while, hopefully, not condoning it.
 
Last edited:
  • #30
Borg
Science Advisor
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It wouldn't matter to me what kind of graffiti it was either. I would report it or remove it myself. If you let it go, it breeds.
 
  • #31
russ_watters
Mentor
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So, just from my personal experience, which isn't all that extensive, there doesn't seem to me to be much of a Nazi or Nazi graffiti problem in the US. But of course I don't really know.
It isn't a huge problem, no, but it does happen. And other types of hateful graffiti also happen and are relevant. The US has, due to our slavery history and its aftermath, a hateful act of cross burning, which is similar in characterization.

In looking for a cross burning case I knew about, I stumbled on one I didn't that exactly answers the question of this thread and my discussion with Ryan, from an American legal perspective: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.A.V._v._City_of_St._Paul

In this case, a group of white teenagers burned a cross on the lawn of a black family. They were charged in accordance with a law that stated:
Whoever places on public or private property, a symbol, object, appellation, characterization or graffiti, including, but not limited to, a burning cross or Nazi swastika, which one knows or has reasonable grounds to know arouses anger, alarm or resentment in others on the basis of race, color, creed, religion or gender commits disorderly conduct and shall be guilty of a misdemeanor.
In other words, the law says that the content of the message contained in graffiti can elevate a crime beyond just a property crime. The USSC ruled unanimously that this law is unConstitutional even as it pointed out that the act of burning the cross on that particular lawn did constitute a threat and could have been prosecuted under a different law.

This also has implications for the scope of hate crime laws.
 
  • #32
505
0
It isn't a huge problem, no, but it does happen. And other types of hateful graffiti also happen and are relevant. The US has, due to our slavery history and its aftermath, a hateful act of cross burning, which is similar in characterization.

In looking for a cross burning case I knew about, I stumbled on one I didn't that exactly answers the question of this thread and my discussion with Ryan, from an American legal perspective: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R.A.V._v._City_of_St._Paul

In this case, a group of white teenagers burned a cross on the lawn of a black family. They were charged in accordance with a law that stated: In other words, the law says that the content of the message contained in graffiti can elevate a crime beyond just a property crime. The USSC ruled unanimously that this law is unConstitutional even as it pointed out that the act of burning the cross on that particular lawn did constitute a threat and could have been prosecuted under a different law.

This also has implications for the scope of hate crime laws.
You raise a problematic, for me anyway, point. Can we, should we, legislate against what we call hate? I'm not really sure. Haven't thought it through. Though my personal belief is that hate is a self-defeating emotion of sorts. I grew up in the separate but equal era, during which the prevailing belief among European Americans, my heritage, was that African Americans (as well as Native Americans, and Jews, and Asians, etc.) were essentially inferior to Europeans (especially the English ... I'm German/English). I'm 64 now, have known, personally, dozens of African, Asian, Hispanic, and Native Americans, and can state, without any doubt whatsoever, that they're not, as racial classes, in any way inferior to any other racial class ... as far as I can tell.

Anyway, I sense that you might have something interesting to say about hate crime legislation that I might not have thought about.
 
  • #33
131
2
Can we, should we, legislate against what we call hate?

Personally, I think legislation against hate is rather pointless. The people who think something is hate are going to ignore or avoid the people spouting it, anyway. In other words, if the majority of people think something is hate, it's a matter of just ignoring those few who're being rude - you have rude people everywhere, after all. If the majority of people *don't* think it's hate, well, legislation won't save you, because in a democratic system you some support for that. So, the best way of dealing with the problem is, in my humble opinion, to ignore the rude people in the world, and to promote equality and respect. Let's leave legislation out of it.

(The exception to this is of course when people start physically abusing people out of hate, or something similar. At this point it's a crime, and can no longer something that can be ignored.)
 

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