Portland Oregon Mayor, Ted Wheeler, is concerned that more violence will erupt in his city next month. Last Saturday a deranged man stabbed three men, killing two, on a train. He was cursing at two young women who were apparently Muslims, and the men came to their aid. Next month, two opposing groups are scheduled to hold rallies; one of them has been labeled by Mayor Wheeler as “alt-right demonstrators.”
The mayor made one serious mistake when he announced that he was asking for interference from the Justice Department. He stated that ‘hate speech is not protected by the Constitution.’
In some ways, I wish the mayor was correct, but he is not.
The Supreme Court decided that although it is vile and uncalled for, hate speech is protected by the first amendment. SCOTUS made that decision three times; in 1962, 1992, and again in 2011.
Some forms of speech are not protected, and if hate speech rises to the level of a threat or harassment, it is then forbidden.
Eugene Volokh is a law professor and an expert on what is and isn’t free speech.
“Hateful ideas (whatever exactly that might mean) are just as protected under the First Amendment as other ideas,” Volokh said. “One is as free to condemn, for instance, Islam — or Muslims, or Jews, or blacks, or whites, or illegal immigrants, or native-born citizens — as one is to condemn capitalism or socialism or Democrats or Republicans.”
The ACLU agrees. “The government cannot revoke or deny a permit based on the viewpoint of the demonstrators. Period,” the ACLU of Oregon said in a Facebook post Monday. “It may be tempting to shut down free speech we disagree with, but once we allow the government to decide what we can say, see, or hear, or who we can gather with, history shows us that the most marginalized will be disproportionately censored and punished for unpopular speech.”
Regardless of the legality, Mayor Wheeler is very mistaken if he believes that Attorney General Jeff Sessions would order the Justice Department to interfere with an alt-right rally. Maybe the ‘good intentioned’ mayor is not aware that The AG is a white supremacist himself. Deplorable people must stick together.
by James Turnage
Photo courtesy of DonkeyHotey
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