Portland Tries to Stamp Out Free Speech

The mayor of Portland, Oregon, Ted Wheeler, is trying to block a free speech rally in his city:

The mayor of Portland, Oregon, on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a “Trump Free Speech Rally” and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade.

Free speech is dangerous! Of course, it is only dangerous if exercised in support of a Republican.

It comes amid a wider debate in the U.S. about the First Amendment, often in liberal cities like Portland and Berkeley, California, and on college campuses, where violent protests between far-right and far-left protesters have derailed appearances by contentious figures.

That isn’t even coherent: “violent protests between far-right and far-left protesters”? Actually, the violence has been perpetrated by far-left criminals. There are no instances of “far right” protesters trying to prevent a liberal from giving a speech.

Taliesin Myrddin Namkai Meche, 23, and Ricky John Best, 53, were killed Friday as they tried to stop Jeremy Joseph Christian from harassing the women, one of whom was wearing a hijab, authorities say. Another who stepped in was seriously injured.

Christian’s social media postings indicate an affinity for Nazis and political violence. He is accused of aggravated murder, intimidation–the state equivalent of a hate crime–and being a felon in possession of a weapon and is scheduled to be in court Tuesday.

The AP chooses not to mention it, but Jeremy Christian is a left-winger who supported Bernie Sanders and Jill Stein. He is also an anti-circumcision fanatic, a long-time criminal and, mostly, a nut. But what does he have to do with a pro-President Trump free speech rally?

The mayor says his main concern was participants “coming to peddle a message of hatred,” saying hate speech is not protected by the Constitution.

Hate speech most certainly is protected by the Constitution. Does the mayor of Portland seriously not know this? And you can’t shut down a public gathering because you think speakers might “peddle a message of hatred.”

A Facebook page for the event says there would be speakers and live music in “one of the most liberal areas on the West Coast.” It says it will feature Kyle Chapman, who describes himself as an American nationalist and ardent supporter of President Donald Trump.

The event’s Facebook page indicates that it is sponsored by Patriot Prayer, which is run by a man named Joey Gibson. There is no suggestion that the gathering might be violent, although it is always possible that any expression of support for President Trump may be met with violence perpetrated by liberals.

The rest of the AP story is devoted to Jeremy Christian, as though there were some connection between him and the upcoming pro-free speech, pro-Donald Trump rally. Here is a quick primer on the First Amendment for Associated Press reporters and Democratic Party mayors: the amendment doesn’t protect stabbings or other forms of murder. It does protect speech. Do you see the distinction? It is subtle, I know.

STEVE adds: I had dinner in Portland with Wheeler once, several years ago before he was elected mayor. He’d been state treasurer of Oregon, and as Democrats go he seemed reasonably sensible. Among other things, he got on decently with many Oregon Republicans. But being mayor of Portland may require you to capitulate to the left. As a prominent Tweeter likes to say, sad!

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