Time Magazine’s Acceptance of Hate Speech, Fighting Words, and The Unpredictable Future Part 2” by Sharece Naomi Thomas

By December 16, 2016 voices No Comments

Hello there! Welcome back to the Lowery Institute! In our last post we discussed the election of Donald Trump, Time naming him person of the year, and Time’s acceptance of hate speech. Here, we will unfold how Time is accepting of fighting words by making Trump person of the year.

II. What are Fighting Words?

The second issue is whether Time is accepting of the fighting words used by Trump when it failed to address any of Trump’s acts of inciting violence. Fighting words are verbal expressions which would likely make the person whom they are addressed commit an act or acts of violence.  Fighting words are a category of speech that is unprotected by the First Amendment[i]. The words must cause a reasonable person to commit an act of violence. For example, Trump repeatedly told a crowd that he, “Wished for the old days. You know what they used to do to guys like that when they were in a place like this? They’d be carried out on a stretcher. I’d like to punch him in the face; I’ll tell ya[ii].”

Based on the platform Trump is speaking from, a reasonable person under the same circumstances, is more than likely going to commit an act of violence. More specifically, the audience for which Trump is addressing is already upset and has probably been upset for the last four to eight years, as evidenced by the many insults and disrespect aimed specifically at President Obama, such as Giuliani’s shocking comment regarding President Obama’s disloyalty to America[iii]. I wish this were merely an instinct, but during Trump’s campaign there were several acts of violence from Trump supporters against opposing persons within the audience at his rallies[iv]. Trump’s speech did more than likely cause a person to commit an act of violence; acts of violence have been and continued to be committed based on the energy Trump gave hatred[v]. Yet and still, Time has chosen this man to be person of the year.

Because Time failed to address the issues surrounding Trump’s conduct that incited massive violence, Time has chosen to accept the act in and of itself, or accepts the consequences of not speaking out against said conduct. Based on the series of unfortunate aforementioned events, let us congratulate Time. Their person of the year definitely upholds the level of morality and discipline that we encourage in the United States of America. Thank you, Time, for supporting, or at least not speaking out against the atrocities that have occurred due to the ill spoken words of a sociopath. For me, Time once respectably added to the world of education and sound thought. It seems as if, they too, have been sold to the highest bidder, or at least refuse to boldly stand for what is true, fearing the fall of their stock price or popularity.

III. The Unpredictable Future

The reason why society is able to flow somewhat smoothly is because people believe in something, and that belief allows them to keep investing energy back into the universe. Beit a belief in God, self, or government; people need to believe that whatever they put their energy in will work for them. In order for government to work, people have to believe in the people they put in place. The issue comes in when the people have elected a compulsive liar to lead this country to “greatness”. Trump is inconsistent in word and deed, and cannot be trusted. He has enticed violence, and acts minimally to stop it. He said he wanted to make America great again, yet refuses to appoint qualified individuals to various positions and fails to attend meetings to learn how to serve our Country[vi].

As a people, we have no quantifiable assurance that Trump will do anything to either maintain the status quo, or improve the state of our nation. What has Time stated in opposition to this finding? Nothing. Silence often denotes acceptance. In this instance, Time has named Trump person of the year. Therefore, Time, for all intents and purposes, has spoken affirmatively. Time, as well as many others, fail to address the issue of whether or not the administration that will be in place will do anything to support the people that keep this country afloat. Trump has proven to be emotionally unstable, irresponsible, and unpredictable; and now he is the next President of the United State of America. What does that say about the direction this country may be going in, leadership wise, for the next four years?

IV. Conclusion: There is Hope

In closing, it is our responsibility as citizens to show concern for our leadership and for entities that we hold in high regard. Maybe I am wrong for holding Time to a higher standard than I hold any other business. Maybe I should deeply analyze why I find assurance in things that I believed once were, fail to see what is, and adjust my actions accordingly.

The good news is, this is the perfect climate to start speaking up for what is just and true and for calling out destructive behaviors rooted in fear, hatred, and insecurity. Our generation has shown a level of fearlessness that can create lasting change for generations to come. People like you and I have the tools necessary to speak up, work in community, and support each other. We can influence magazines like Time through various means, including speaking or writing out against their decisions so they can publish works that we agree with. If we choose, we can also create a platform and a narrative that reflects how we feel, if the powers that be refuse to listen. All of this is very possible if we unite, focus, and consistently work towards the liberation of all who feel oppressed, disrespected, or scared to speak up for themselves.

Thank you for taking the time to read, “Time Magazine’s Acceptance of Hate Speech, Fighting Words, and The Unpredictable Future”. If you enjoyed this article or it has moved you in any way, please consider supporting the Joseph and Evelyn Lowery Institute for Justice & Human Rights at www.loweryinstitute.org. Let us be the change!

[i] < https://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/fighting_words. >

[ii] Donald Trump on Protester. “I’d like to Punch Him in the Face”. < http://www.nytimes.com/politics/first-draft/2016/02/23/donald-trump-on-protester-id-like-to-punch-him-in-the-face/?_r=0 >

[iii] Top 6 Instance of Disrespect Towards President Obama. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/post-partisan/wp/2015/03/06/top-6-instances-of-disrespect-toward-president-obama/?utm_term=.edb2c508eb2a>

[iv] Six Times People Got Attacked at Trump Rallies. <http://thefederalist.com/2016/03/10/6-times-people-got-attacked-at-trump-rallies/ >

[v] More Than 400 Hate Incidents Reported Since Trump’s Election. <http://www.advocate.com/election/2016/11/17/more-400-hate-incidents-reported-Trump’s-election>

[vi] Trump Turning Away Intelligence Briefings Since Election Win. <https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/trump-turning-away-intelligence-briefers-since-election-win/2016/11/23/5cc643c4-b1ae-11e6-be1c-8cec35b1ad25_story.html?utm_term=.51baf4a306d9>

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