In the last few months, shocking and sudden shooting attacks have taken place in a church and a mall in Knoxville. On Sunday, as reported in this Knoxville News Sentinel article, a group of teens and adults held a vigil at the Knoxville Center Mall to raise awareness about gun violence and to mourn and memorialize the victims. An organizer and speaker at Sunday's event was a 14 year old girl named Sumaiya Hussain, and for me she stands as a pretty courageous and articulate person.
Taking a very public position such as they did is no easy task - they open themselves to all manner of reactions. But I certainly respect their desire to counter violent episodes with expressions of peace and a call for greater harmony.
On Friday, a couple of fellows took to the streets of Knoxville wearing KKK outfits, strolling about for a few hours. While they held no signs (as far as I could tell from reports like this one from Katie), I don't think they were there to call for peace and harmony. (More reaction here at KnoxViews.)
And yes, you can say both events were exercises in "freedom of speech", the mall vigil was far more valuable to the community. The sidewalk display offered little of value, other than offering folks a chance to eyeball some people with dubious character.
It would serve Knoxville and the state much better if more focus were placed on events like the one at the mall. Kudos to the KNS for making the vigil a page one story.