In my line of work, I have to be objective about the stories I write despite what my head might be screaming.

Today was such a day.

I wrote about a young woman who was arrested for hitting a self-proclaimed preacher in the head. I just want to give her a high five and say “Way to go!”

Now I know violence is wrong. Nobody deserves to be attacked.

If anybody did, however, it would be this guy. In my humble opinion. His name is Dean Saxton. He calls himself Brother Dean, and you might have heard of him. He’s no stranger to controversy and, like most of his ilk, seems to love attention. He’s what some might call a pot-stirrer.

(Souce: Ahanleefur via Twitter, 23 April 2013)

(Souce: @hanleefur via Twitter, 23 April 2013)

Brother Dean made headlines in 2013 when he preached his “You Deserve Rape” message on the University of Arizona campus. He was in the news again when he took his “You Deserve Rape” message to Arizona State University.

Yes, you read that right. He believes women deserve to be raped. The picture at the top of this post is from his Twitter feed. It looks to me like he’s quite proud of that belief.

As a woman — hell, as a human being — I find his message vile and abhorrent. As a woman who has been raped, I find his message … what’s worse than vile and abhorrent?

But he doesn’t limit his targets. Oh, no. He apparently loves to tell people that they are going to hell. Women who wear shorts or yoga pants. Muslims. Gay people. The list of those who do not meet his approval — or God’s approval if you share his way of thinking — is long.

Last month, Saxton was apparently preaching his beliefs — this particular time it was about homosexuality being a sin — across the street from a local high school. He’s is perfectly within his rights to do that. Because free speech.

While he was talking to somebody a 19-year-old woman named Tabitha Brubaker walked up behind him and used his head for batting practice. Brother Dean was recording this preaching on his cell phone so the entire thing was caught on video, which he posted to YouTube.

The story: Young woman arrested for assaulting self-proclaimed preacher [WARNING: Graphic video]

You never see the bat connect with his head, but man, do you hear it. Damn! The sound is unmistakable. Home run, baby!
So now I’m a little at war with myself.

Half of me is all, “You go, girl!” Maybe more than half if I’m being brutally honest.

The other half, or whatever is left, knows what she did is wrong.

This Brother Dean guy is entitled to his opinions. He’s entitled to share said opinions.

A couple of days before police arrested Brubaker, Saxton tweeted a picture of himself after the attack, blood dripping down the side of his head. He needed eight staples to close the gash.

“If you think the gay community accepts & tolerates others just wait till they hit you over the head with a metal bat,” he wrote.

Because he’s oh-so-tolerant.

Free speech is a right protected by the Constitution.

Hate speech is a crime.

But where’s the line? And who decides? Is it an “I know it when I hear it” kind of thing?

Saxton is clearly fervent in his beliefs and his right to share them.

I do not know him personally, but based on his public videos and writings, I believe him to be an uninformed, intolerant dumbass.

Does that mean he should have his head used as a baseball?

Yes! Maybe that will knock some sense into him.

And at the same time…

No! Violence is not the answer no matter how satisfying in might feel in the moment.

You’ve probably heard the phrase, “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.”

Disapprove defendIt shows up often in one form or another on Twitter and Facebook.

While I could not disagree more with this man and everything for which he seems to stand — I have the right to do that — the free speech card wins.

I will defend his right to spew his twisted beliefs. Because I have the same right. Of course, my beliefs are not twisted. I’ll bet he would say the same of his, which I’m sure includes the certainty that I and probably everyone I know will wind up in hell.

I don’t have to like what he has to say, but that right to free speech is what makes America America. We are allowed to speak our minds. We are allowed — encouraged even — to discuss and debate.

That’s something to think about. And particularly timely, seeing as it’s Memorial Day weekend, a time to pause to remember and honor those who died protecting the rights we enjoy, possibly even take for granted. That includes the right to sound like a moronic zealot.

The day we started curtailing the right to free speech will be the day that America as we know it dies. I am terrified of that day.

But it’s not here yet.

That means Brubaker, who told police she had nothing to do with the incident, had the right to speak her mind and disagree with Saxton. Which she apparently did with the help of a bat or something similar.

Again, parts of me cheer for her. But the rational part knows that’s not how to handle the situation. And now she’s facing a felony charge of aggravated assault that, if she’s convicted or pleads guilty, will follow her forever. She’s 19, which means forever is a mighty long time.

Was it worth it? Only she can answer that.

But in my humble opinion (I have a lot of humble opinions to which everybody is entitled), it’s not just a no, it’s a hell no. Saxton and people like him simply aren’t worth it. They are never going to change. I am never going to agree with them.

I guess the bottom line is this: I will defend Brother Dean’s right speak his mind. But I have to I wonder if he would do the same for me.