At this point I cannot help but to reply to the issue of being "offended" by somebody's speech, or behavior or choice in visual symbols (symbolic speech). If the town council decides to allow some group to put up a statue (with private funding) to Genghis Khan or Shaka Zulu or Nathan Bedford Forrest (in NJ), I might be bemused by the decision but I am not going to get bent out of shape or get offended. Geez, I think some folks are allowing "being offended" to become some sort of cottage industry and devoting their lives to stamping out offending activities. In addition to being annoying, such people are, in my opinion, downright offensive themselves. Have they little else going on in their lives that they have to create an unholy uproar by going on a crusade to cleanse our land of "offensive" speech and symbols? For heavens sake what has ever happened to tolerance of other people's foibles and idiosyncrasies and eccentricities. Yes, public space is not one's front lawn but because space is public, the solution, it seems to me, is not to ban controversial symbols to only those that are "approved" but to permit competing symbolic speech and allow citizens to make what they will of these displayed items. If people are shown a statue of Robert E. Lee, let them see across the pathway one of US Grant, or perhaps a quarter scale model of the CSS Virginia next to one of the USS Monitor (now that would really be cool). Or a display of every flag that ever flew over their state (again, pretty cool). Not only would we be upholding the traditional American respect for diversity (not conformity) of thought and speech but consider all that people might learn from such displays. Instead of banning thought provoking symbolic speech, let's use our public spaces to foster it.
I'll try to explain.
The monuments in question are equivalent to granite middle fingers sticking up in the faces of African-Americans. Not knowing you or your background I can't give you an example to which you can relate, but imagine a symbol that genuinely insults you--not just offends you, without the quotation marks, but in fact insults you--being placed in your neighborhood. Your opinion about it, your objection to it being placed there, is completely ignored. In fact, no one asks your opinion. It's just placed there, and you have to pass by it every day. And to add more insult to injury, you are taxed to pay for that symbol, to pay for erecting it, and to pay for its maintenance.
Would you want to tolerate its continued existence? Would you be satisfied with a "balancing" of that symbol with another symbol that only tangentially has anything to do with you?