Hate Speech

High School Boys Made the Nazi Salute in a Prom Photo. That's Terrible, But Not a Crime.

Social media can shame them and the school can punish them, but the police shouldn't intervene.


Screenshot via Twitter

A troll-ish photo from Wisconsin shows about 50 boys performing the Nazi salute. The juvenile and obnoxious picture, which was taken at Baraboo High School's junior prom last spring, has attracted some well-deserved shaming from the media. The school district is investigating as well—not improperly, since junior prom is a school function.

Less defensibly, the police are investigating the matter too. "At this point, I really can't comment too much because it's an active case," Police Captain Rob Sinden tells The Huffington Post.

I'm not sure why the police need to be involved in this at all, since it's not a criminal matter. It is not illegal to make a Nazi salute; pro-Nazi hand gestures are protected under the First Amendment. Nor is this a "hate crime," properly understood, since there's no underlying criminal issue to address. Making a Nazi salute while engaging in assault or theft or property defacement could result in additional charges; that doesn't seem to apply here. (I have emailed Sinden for comment, and I will update this post if I hear back.)

It should be possible to punish misbehavior—either informally, via social shaming, or formally, via normal school disciplinary procedures—without involving the police each and every time a teenager does something stupid.

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  1. Lefties hate to be reminded of how their Socialist brethren in Germany were murderous, racist, nationalist shitbags out to destroy things like Libertarianism and freedom.

    1. Funny how Macron spoke today in opposition to The Dotard’s Aryan Nationalist agenda.

      Macron denounces nationalism as a ‘betrayal of patriotism’ in rebuke to Trump at WWI remembrance

      PARIS ? In the shadow of a grand war memorial here, French President Emmanuel Macron marked the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I by delivering a forceful rebuke against rising nationalism, calling it a “betrayal of patriotism” and warning against “old demons coming back to wreak chaos and death.”

      His words during a solemn Armistice Day ceremony under overcast skies at the foot of the Arc de Triomphe in the heart of the French capital were intended for a global audience. But they also represented a pointed rebuke to President Trump, Russian President Vladi?mir Putin and others among the more than 60 world leaders in attendance.

      Speaking in French, Macron emphasized that a global order based on liberal values is worth defending against those who have sought to disrupt that system. The millions of soldiers who died in the Great War fought to defend the “universal values” of France, he said, and to reject the “selfishness of nations only looking after their own interests. Because patriotism is exactly the opposite of nationalism.”


      1. Irony in French decrying nationalism?

        1. Even funnier that few will admit it.

          1. Kettle, it’s Pot. You’re Black!

        2. Pipsqueak LePew decries nationalism because his national approval rating is 26%.

      2. Is it funny? Because I just consider it more talking out of the side of their mouths from politicians of one of the most nationalist countries in the world. I mean, France has a government agency telling everyone what words they can and can not use. These are the people who will kill you if you don’t provide a sufficient quantity of ‘French programming’ on your entertainment venue.

        Not to mention he’s a long-time supporter of subsuming France and every other country in Europe in one ‘super-nation’ – where the current individual countries have less sovereignty than *counties* in the United States.

    2. You’re obviously a person of great education; I’d love for you to enlighten me about how the “leftists” fighting against the Socialists in the Spanish Civil War.

      1. Both sides were authoritarian. Franco turned into an actual dictator after winning. The Socialists were backed by existing dictators and would surely have turned into the same thing if they had won.

        Neither was interested in liberty.

        1. Excellent summary.

          1. The Catalonian anarchists were betrayed by their communist allies. That betrayal should have severed the link between black and red forever, but the shared hatred of the property owning capitalists is just too much for death, deceit and defeat to overcome.

      2. He’s a person with a somewhat unusual definition of what constitutes a leftist. To his credit, he is at least pretty consistent about it.

        1. Many libertarians who crossed over from the statist Left (as conventionally conceived) are (in keeping with a broad terminological tendency on the Left for insulting deviant forms of left-authoritarianism) in the habit of calling libertarians leftists and Soviet Communists and Trotskyists and so forth rightists. I think the point being made is much the same.

      3. Communists, Anarchists, Spanish Socialists, and Mexican Socialists/Anarchists/Communists vs the Falangists, Nationalists, National Socialists and Fascistii, Catholics, and Spanish aristocrats.

      4. Chicago gangs fight against each other all the time. Their politics however align.

    3. Yeah, those damn lefties, always making excuses for Nazis.

      1. National socialism. This is not rocket surgery.

        1. Trying to hide that fact is Propaganda 101 for Lefties.

        2. National socialism. This is not rocket surgery.

          1. Is it somehow different when it ‘national’ versus . . . what? What makes national socialism different than any other form of coercive socialism?

            1. Sidd is not very bright.

          2. National in this case is because they are not subservient to the centralized communkst party “workers of the world unite” montra.

        3. I’m talking about what lefties actually do and say, not what seems logical. Pointing out that Nazis were socialists hasn’t stopped people from identifying them as right wing for 70 years. What makes you think it will work this time?

          1. The truth shall set you free?

  2. Pretty crappy Nazi salutes.

    1. They are waving. ( that’s my story and I’m sticking to it. )

      1. Hey everybody! Big wave for the camera! Come-on, you can do better, Big wave! Bigger! Get those arms up!”


        High School Boys Give Nazi Salute (And It’s All Trumps Fault)

    2. Maybe they were Terran Imperial salutes. Or did any high schoolers watch ST: Discovery

      1. If high schoolers today are into masochism they can find innumerable resources online; that is the beauty of our age.

  3. The school discipline should consist of the following:

    “Hey guys…don’t do this again…”

    1. And everyone should laugh ansd carve swastikas into their desks.

  4. It is not illegal to make a Nazi salute; pro-Nazi hand gestures are protected under the First Amendment.

    Should they be, though? For a powerful argument to the contrary, see Reason contributor Noah Berlatsky’s excellent piece Is the First Amendment too broad? The case for regulating hate speech in America: Maybe it’s time we stop defending Nazis.


    1. >>>#LibertariansAgainstFirstAmendmentAbsolutism

      Jello Biafra on line 2…

      1. Jello Biafra

        I’ve never tried that flavor.

        1. mix of fresh fruit and rotting vegetables.

    2. #antiracistwhiteally


    3. Reason contributor Noah Berlatsky

      OBL spinnin’ the hits !

      This one needs heavier rotation.

    4. Powerful argument? Not hardly. That article is a weak apolgia for totalitarian censorship.

  5. The school itself says it was not at a school event and not on school grounds according to the article. Given the lapse in time it seems hard to prove a disruption. If all the school can prove is that these folks disregarded the schools diversity policy or whatever, seems like the school cannot legally do anything to them.

    1. Schools often don’t care about the legality of what they can and can’t do, unless something comes and retroactively with a lawsuit.

  6. This form of “trolling” is not cool. I’m sure few were real racists, and even fewer will grow up to be racists once the lure of being “edgy” wears off. But I’d think it’d be so much more fun to do one of the innumerable things that set the wokesters off but are actually quite innocent of bigotry. In any case although real bigotry has not in fact increased thus far but continued to decrease, there is no guarantee that it will not in the future. Oppress kids with wokeness, and they begin to search for an alternative–and liberalism/conservatism/humanism will have to fight it out with counter-identitarianism for their souls.

    In any case I hope even the administrative investigation proceeds in accordance with proper 1A guidelines. These children cannot be punished at all for the content of their expression, no matter how idiotic and offensive. Did they cause disruption or harrassment with this photo? Seems unlikely. Leave the edgy little rebels alone.

    1. Rebels? Or likely never-to-amount-to-much losers?

    2. In any case although real bigotry has not in fact increased thus far but continued to decrease, there is no guarantee that it will not in the future.

      Limiting “bigotry” to black-racism, sure its declined. But the bigger umbrella of bigotry appears to grow apace.

  7. Golly, teenage boys being obnoxious and deliberately offensive. What is the world coming to?

    1. Thank God most of us grow out of that phase, faggot.

      1. To be clear that was a little joke! At least I hope that was clear.

  8. I just don’t know why it’s OK to wear business dress to a supposedly semi-formal event.

    1. fashion and Wisconsin do not mix

      1. Men’s fashion is a lost art.

        I’ve been researching it in pursuit of tailoring on the side and there’s a lot of stuff completely lost to us.

        1. the untuckit guy is winning.

    2. Better than the bizarre tradition of the groom and wedding party wearing dinner jackets to daytime weddings instead of morning clothes (or indeed business dress).

      Sometimes tradition backs you into a corner, even I have to admit. The Solicitor General (or his subordinates; the AG never does so and doesn’t even have to be a lawyer) traditionally addresses the Supreme Court in morning clothes. Elena Kagan was not about to argue her cases in a dress, so she just used regular businesswear.

    3. Check out Clarke Gable over here. Semi-formal now means clean tennis shoes.

  9. That’s something you don’t see every day Chauncey. Nazi salutes and Antifa headgear.

  10. What’s with all the gorilla masks?

  11. Is it a Nazi salute or is it a bunch of kids with trashbags on their heads waving at the camera?

    Even if it is a Nazi salute, I’m beginning to think it’s a guaranteed way to go viral in this day of Perpetual Outrage.

    1. Oh shit, just saw the original… my bad (eyesight). So they just took a picture of themselves then. Kayyy.

  12. I’m not sure why the police need to be involved in this at all, since it’s not a criminal matter.

    They have to investigate the matter to find out whether or not it’s a criminal matter, don’t they? Or are they just supposed to take your word for it that it’s not a criminal matter?

    And you’re either lying or retarded if you’re saying you honestly don’t know why the police are involved here – you know or should know goddamn well “the process is the punishment” and “you might beat the rap but you won’t beat the ride”. The cops know there’s nothing criminal going on here, nothing that can be punished by prosecution, but they sure as hell can still harass and threaten and intimidate under the guise of “just asking questions”.

  13. Gee, male students doing something stupid, that never happens! Despite their stupidity, they have the right to do this, and the idea that the cops should have any power in this area is stunning!

  14. Maybe they need more mandatory training about the problem of being white. That is sure to make them understand that they are white and therefore evil.

  15. The police need to get to the bottom of this. If there is sufficient evidence of wrong-think, this should be turned over to the International Criminal Court for prosecution and execution.

  16. I highly recommend the circus museum in Baraboo. I’d advise going either before or after the official “season” when bad amateurs perform. Admission is cheaper and you’re there to see the wagons, posters, memorabilia etc. It’s a first class collection and they have some real highlights on display.

    If you appreciate pre-Columbian earthworks DON’T MISS MAN MOUND while you’re there.

    I forget how great this area is. If you’re interested in geology there is the Baraboo Range and August Derleth’s house is in Sauk City.

    You can do all of this stuff in a day too.

    1. Also check out Devil’s Lake for great rock climbing.

  17. You know who else had their faces altered in photographs?

    1. Every woman under 50 who’s ever taken a selfie with her smartphone?

  18. It’s just a photograph. Never-going-to-amount-to-much residents of our depleted backwaters have rights, too.

  19. Who distribute a picture of minors without a release?

  20. Apparently an adult photographer prompted them to do the salute. My guess is that he’d be the subject of any investigation — “corruption of a minor” or something?

    1. If that’s true he definitely should be. An adult should not be coercing children into voicing support for his own political beliefs. And definitely should not be coercing them into doing things that will likely harm their future.

      Of course here in NYC teachers bring their elementary school classes to City Hall rallies as pawns for political causes all the time. I have no idea why that is tolerated either.

  21. Or they are waving. Or it’s the ancient Roman salute. Or it’s a hand gesture used by dozens of cultures across the ages. This fixation on Nazi symbols as if they were invented by the Nazis and had no other history or connotation is historical revisionism that cheapens all of us.

    More to the point, even if you assume that they did intend to make it a Nazi reference, it would have been a childish stunt quickly forgotten but for the over-reactions.

    1. The photographer clicked early.

      The were all preparing to make the Black Power salute. Now that’s a horse of a different color.

      1. Well, right there in the center of the front row just left of center there’s one in a black suit who looks to be throwing a gang sign and another two to the right with what certainly looks like a Black Power salute and another two to the right in a blue suit who looks like he flipped off the camera wrong. But they’re kids, give them some practice and maybe they’ll get it right.

  22. Unless this can be shown to have materially and substantially disrupted the educational process (a few SJWs feeling uncomfortable doesn’t make it), I don’t see how they can be disciplined by the school system, consistent with Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School Distrct. Of course,the Supremes pulled a drug-war exception out of their butts in Frederick v. Morse, so I suppose they could reach further and come up with a Naziism exception.

  23. Is it still a big secret that this is how we used to do the pledge of allegiance?

  24. Blackface: stroke of genius.

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