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Is it Hate Speech For a Politician to Compare Obama to Hitler?

Airren Kirk

As furious as we all are about the government shutdown, Arizona state representative Brenda Barton decided to use the media to share how she feels about the National Parks Service being shut down. She compared President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler, saying, "Someone is paying the National Park Service thugs overtime for their efforts to carry out the order of De Fuhrer."
Is what she saying hate speech? If so how do we hold her accountable for it?

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  • Kris GiereKris Giere

    This is just another example of crazed hyperbole and one-up-manship. All too often, we Americans rely on unnecessary exaggerations to make our points. I think that references like these do border on hate speech, but they are symptoms of an underlying habit of sound bytes that must increase in their sensationalism each time.

  • Elisa HuangElisa Huang

    It seems like whenever a public figure drops a "so and so is a Hitler/Nazi" reference, it's almost always just a lazy shortcut around nuanced, reasoned discussion to instant publicity and shock value. It's a weak debate tactic because if you had a truly strong case, it could stand on its own without needing to use the tired "Hitler" label to get attention. Remove the Nazi wrapper and you've got nothing substantive underneath her line of reasoning. Thought distasteful and poorly informed, I think the First Amendment protects her from her speech, though not from her own ignorance.

    • Airren KirkAirren Kirk

      Should there be consequences to what she said about the president?

  • Adele PetersAdele Peters

    It's interesting to me how often "Nazi" comes up in casual speech, like Seinfeld's Soup Nazi, "femi-nazis," "animal rights nazis," etc. It trivializes the meaning of the word. What Barton said is ridiculous and insulting, though I don't think it's legally hate speech (I'm no lawyer, but I think stupid comments like hers are protected by the First Amendment, right?).

  • Liz DwyerLiz Dwyer

    Great question to ask about this. She also told the Arizona Capitol Times that she stands by the Hitler analogy because Obama's “dictating beyond his authority.” She went on to say that “It’s not just the death camps. [Hitler] started in the communities, with national health care and gun control. You better read your history. Germany started with national health care and gun control before any of that other stuff happened. And Hitler was elected by a majority of people.”

    Along with being hateful (and dangerous) language, what Barton's conveniently ignoring is that Congress' has caused the shutdown, not Obama. And, if Obama was an actual dictator, he'd dissolve Congress and just say that his policies are now law.

    As far as what we can do about it, I read that World War II veterans and relatives of Holocaust survivors are speaking out against these comments. We can also contact her to express that although we do have free speech, this kind of language isn't appropriate or becoming of someone in elected office:

    Brenda Barton
    House of Representatives
    1700 W. Washington
    Room 123
    Phoenix, AZ 85007
    Phone Number: (602) 926-4129
    Fax Number: (602) 417-3010

    Email Address: bbarton@azleg.gov

    • Airren KirkAirren Kirk

      Hey thanks for sharing her information. i look forward to writing to her.

    • Alessandra RizzottiAlessandra Rizzotti

      Thanks for offering Brenda's info. I think this is the perfect way to hold her accountable for her words.

    • Liz DwyerLiz Dwyer

      Other Republicans aren't saying they agree with her, but they aren't condemning her, either.

  • Airren KirkAirren Kirk

    this is very crazy because they complain about people having guns and killing our kids but when they see things being handled and in governments hands then they wanna complain like what more do they want. Obama is just doing his job its not his fault but this lady here doesnt understand that and just wanna push the issue Obama is not Hitler he is doing his job.

  • Cameron  SchusterCameron Schuster

    This is a ludicrous comparison, and is a classic case of misleading the public and diverting attention away from the responsible parties involved.