When free speech trespasses into, just, wow

Lately I've been marveling at the beautiful but cursed thing that is free speech. Let me give you a few examples.

Last Monday -- Columbus Day, no less --  I was driving home from my teaching gig when I passed a crowded intersection near a shopping center. On the corner was a white guy holding up a handmade sign. I can't recall the exact wording, but his message was clear: "We need to protect this country from Muslims!" Oh, and I should mention he had a rifle swung over his shoulder.

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by the unabashed display of hate, not here in Georgia, but I was. Sure, there are plenty of individuals I dislike personally, but I'd never say that to their faces, much less scrawl a message large enough for hundreds of commuters to see. (More importantly, I would never throw mass shade like that.)

On Thursday, I caught a glimpse of another disturbing message that's protected by the First Amendment. Students, faculty and staff at the school I teach at were encouraged to wear purple in honor of Spirit Day, a day to show support for the LGBTQ communities. As I navigated the throngs of students to get to my class, I noticed messages etched in chalk on the sidewalk. Most were encouraging: "Love who you love," "Proud to be gay," etc. But there were a handful that, while not exactly mean or hateful, caused me to look twice to make sure I'd read them correctly. "Proud to be Straight," for example, was one. 

Again, that's not a message of discrimination in itself. But considering the scope of the day, it was hardly appropriate. 

Then today, I read this story on The Daily Beast about the faction of white people who are calling for a boycott of the new Star Wars movie because it actually celebrates diversity. In their words, the film promotes “white genocide” and was made “to demoralize and destroy Whites.” The hashtag #BoycottStarWarsVII is real life, y'all, and I refuse to peruse it. 

I just love this sample of wit from the Daily Beast writer though: "Somewhere in a galaxy far, far away, shaking his damn head, Yoda is."

But, again, I'm flabberghasted. Did these racists forget the most iconic voice in the whole franchise belonged to a black man? And so what if the faces of this movie aren't white -- aren't there enough movies out there starring white men?

As a journalist, I live and breathe free speech. But it's instances like these that make me wish I could just put a mute button on such foolery.