New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed a bill into law on Tuesday that would ban hate symbols from being sold on state property.
According to ABC News, the law describes hate symbols specifically as “symbols of white supremacist and neo-Nazi ideology or the Battle Flag of the Confederacy.” The law will allow for certain exceptions. If the imagery serves a “educational or historical purpose” it will still be allowed to be displayed on state property. If a vendor is trying to sell a Confederate flag at, say the state fair, that’s a no-no.
The language of the law specifically calls out the Confederate Battle Flag, calling it “a symbol of racism, exclusion, oppression and violence towards African Americans.”
State Sen. Alessandra Biaggi, who introduced the bill, released a statement celebrating the bill’s passage. “This bill allows New York State to lead by example, and discourage the perpetuation of symbols that do not represent our values of justice and inclusion,” she wrote.
“Today we say no to hate.”
I can’t lie, whenever I encounter stories like these, I can’t help but feel a bit of discomfort. Sure, this is a nice gesture, but it’s so small. There was nothing stopping New York, or any state who has taken similar measures, from doing this before. If you’re reading this story then I’m sure you’ve encountered the oft-repeated refrain of “Following the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmaud Arbery,” throughout the year.
That’s where my discomfort lies.
It’s so easy to call out racism, to say “Hey! That’s racist! Don’t do that.” Let’s keep it a buck, we’ve been asking for laws banning Confederate flags and taking down Confederate for years. So why did it take so much death, such horrific death to get local governments to simply do the bare minimum?
Apologies for going straight Debbie Downer there.
Anyway, according to the Hill the law goes into effect immediately, and Gov. Cuomo has said that while he supports “the spirit of [the] legislation” he believes that “technical changes” might be needed to ensure certain First Amendment rights aren’t infriginged.