I’m still uneasy about the “all black people leave the store” announcement, but for two very separate reasons.

The first, of course, is the appalling racism. We’ve all known that racism is still alive and well, but it’s really quite scary to see it going on.

But the other thing that leaves me uneasy is the massive police investigation and the arrest — and possible one-year jail term — of the 16-year-old boy who made the heinous announcement.

I really don’t think a crime was committed. Was it disgusting, appalling, and hateful? Absolutely. But I could say the same about some talk radio shows. Should this person be ashamed? Totally. Ridiculed? Yes. But what crime was committed? Patently hateful organizations like the the KKK have enjoyed First Amendment protections for a long time. And by showing the absolute worst of America, they indirectly also bring out the absolute best of America: they show that even the nutcases enjoy Constitutional protections of their bigoted speech. Instead of trying to legislatively muffle their voices, we as citizens expose their intolerance and often upstage them with a much bigger counter-protest. It means that the system still works as intended.

I really don’t want to live in a nation of racists. But even more so, I really don’t want to live in a nation where people who make bigoted and uninformed announcements serve time in jail.

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