In the United States, we have an organization called the Ku Klux Klan. Its origins go back to the end of the Civil War, and an effort by the European-descended citizens of the American republic to reinforce their once superior position over non-Europeans, and often non-Protestants through fear and intimidation.
As much as I find the Klan reprehensible, I would gladly defend them in a court of law for their right to march and to be heard in a public place. Because I feel that, as bad as their message of hate is, I would prefer it be expressed with signs or flags with swastikas on them in a public place, than expressed with violence under the shade of night -- the only recourse for forbidden organizations.
Therefore, I disagree with the Estonian parliament's recent law banning the use of Nazi and Soviet symbols in public places. The Russians have decried the law, calling it "immoral". "I see the recent decision of the Estonian government as blasphemous from the moral standpoint," said Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov in Amman today. I'll tell you what's more insulting that the Estonian ban, Sergei -- telling the Estonian people that your generous "Soviet people" liberated them while they were busy putting bullets in Jaan Tõnisson's head. Telling Estonia that it is ungrateful for the way you carted Konstantin Päts off to Siberia to die in a psychiatric hospital, then dragging your feet on giving his personal effects back to the Estonian people. That is really insulting.
But as much of a jerk as Lavrov is, I still don't think symbols should be banned. SS veterans should be able to march just as Red Army vets should be able to march. The police should protect them, and the authorities must do their best to protect both, as "immoral" as individual police may find the citizens they protect. Because that is what freedom is. Let the jokers stand with their swastikas and their hammers and sickles - it is the people themselves that should let them know they are irrelevant, not the Riigikogu.
The banning of symbols is a false step for a democracy. In the US there are similar efforts to prohibit the burning of flags. But I oppose all measures that are taken by a government to inhibit speech, and this is one of them. It is not the government's business what symbols people choose to display. It is solely their duty to ensure that the people's speech is protected and is expressed peacefully. By banning symbols, Estonia becomes just as unreasonable as Russia, where they ban movies because they are afraid they will stir up ethnic tension.
I will have no influence on the decisions the Estonian government makes, but I hope that future governments will not take greater measures to destroy freedom of speech.