*The following is an opinion column by R Muse*
It is likely that when the Founding Fathers included the right of every American to free speech in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights there was such a thing as “hate speech.” However, hate speech in the late 1700s probably didn’t include preachers carrying signs telling students they needed to be raped. It’s not that there weren’t sick religious fanatics at the nation’s founding, there certainly were, but they probably understood that a quick way to be assaulted was telling someone’s wife, mother, daughter, or sister that they needed to be raped, were naughty and nasty, or were going to Hell for not embracing, or complying with, their brand of Christianity.
There is little doubt that at some point in every American’s life, they did yearn for a law against “hate speech,” but there is really little anyone can legally do to restrict someone else’s freedom of speech no matter how hateful or personally offensive. For a young woman in Glendale Arizona, the way to deal with hate speech targeting public school students is taking a baseball bat and “regulating” the offending “man of god’s” skull.
The man who learned there is only so much tolerance for his hate speech, and implied threats of rape according to his religious sensibilities, is a preacher who has spent years spewing hate speech at various groups and at public events over, among other things, the LGBT community. The preacher, a term that hardly seems apropos, is “Brother Dean” Saxton who regularly stations himself on the periphery of local high schools and colleges with a megaphone condemning students and members of the LGBT community to the proverbial Hell. He exudes American neo-Christianity by regularly carrying a sign that reads “You deserve to be raped” according to local station ABC15.
Apparently, a young woman, nineteen year-old Tabitha Brubaker, had a mental sign of her own that informed her the hateful preacher “deserved to be hit up against the head with a baseball bat” for continuously spewing hate speech at students and gays. So she dutifully gave the pathetic preacher what she believed he deserved. Now, one typically does not condone violence for any reason, any more than one condones or tolerates hate speech, but in this particular case and under the bigoted circumstances, maybe the head adjustment with a baseball bat was warranted. Unfortunately for Ms. Brubaker, law enforcement and the criminal justice system doesn’t see it that way.
Police arrested and charged Ms. Brubaker with felony assault and marijuana possession after she did what she believed would stop the hate speech; giving the preacher a “head adjustment” with what sounds like an aluminum baseball bat. As an aside, it is noteworthy that there is no relationship between reefer and the assault. If anything, a little reefer likely caused the young woman to keep the skull blow to a minimum of one.
The preacher called the students “naughty and nasty” and denounced them for not being “true Christians.” Brother Dean posted a video of the incident on YouTube where he complains of often being confronted and “yelled at.” Of course, using a powered megaphone to yell at students in school that they are “going to Hell” is perfectly acceptable; Brother Dean calls it preaching. Such as shouting “The Bible says it’s not okay to be gay. You need to stop doing naughty, nasty things, Apollo High School. You need to stop looking up naughty, nasty things on the Internet.”
In the video, Saxton is confronted, first by a teacher who informs him that he cannot legally film the children, or her for that matter, without their parent’s written permission. Saxton claims he is within his rights because he is preaching and filming it for court. Brother Dean told the teacher that “she was trying to influence the students, who he called ‘evil’.”
The unidentified teacher told him, “I’m trying to influence the fact that you need to be gone. I think you’re a disgrace to Christianity. Why don’t you go and preach it to somebody who really wants to hear your message, like Westboro Baptist Church?”
Shortly after an official looking male attempted to guide the children away from the maniac, another less-than impressed adult male confronts Saxton. After asking if he is “right in the head” and told him he cannot talk to the students like that, the man’s anger started exposing itself. The unidentified father said, “You can’t talk to kids like that. If those kids were mine I would’ve knocked your a** out already. These are kids, they don’t need to hear that.” The next sound is what appears to be an aluminum baseball bat connecting with a human skull; Ms. Brubaker cannot be seen trying to stop hate speech because she is out of the frame.
Obviously, the preacher’s hate speech and religious condemnation of students and the gay community were too much for one young lady to bear any longer. “Brother Dean” is well-known for hauling his handy bullhorn to crowded public events to utilize his special brand of hate-preach to denounce gays, wh*res, lesbians, porn watchers, and any group he thinks his deity wants him to scream at, harass and condemn to Hell. Although the Brother Dean types are incredibly offensive, they do enjoy the freedom to hurl hate speech with “legal” impunity; but not so much with ordinary citizens who are sick-to-death of being screamed at and condemned to Hell because hate speech is legal; especially when it is driven by religious hate.
Violence is never heroic; except during wartime. It is likely that many Americans, especially the LGBT community and women, feel that after several years of attacks by the religious right and their Republican facilitators they are in a state of war. It is not remotely surprising that someone finally took action to stop this perpetual hate speech borne of religion. It is just too bad that the laws protecting vile hate speech do not apply to protecting the victims. It is unknown what was going on in Ms. Brubaker’s mind to drive her to take action, but she likely comprehends now that hate speech is protected by the United States Constitution; hitting a preacher in the head with a baseball bat is not regardless he was spewing hate.