Sunday, August 27, 2017

Censoring Unpleasant Speech

Have Arena Will Travel. In the past few years Bill Maher has been almost everywhere on tour, including the usual suspects such as California, Canada, Las Vegas, and New York City, but also in Florida, Minnesota, Oklahoma, North and South Dakota, Kansas, Missouri, Wisconsin, Florida, Michigan, Connecticut, New Mexico, and elsewhere.

He was even in San Francisco, on April 23, 2017. That may not seem surprising except that

Protesters opposing a right-wing gathering in liberal San Francisco claimed victory Saturday when the event was cancelled after city officials walled off a city park, a move that the event’s organizer said was more about silencing his group’s message than preventing a violent clash.

Civic leaders in San Francisco, a cradle of the free speech movement that prides itself on its tolerance, repeatedly voiced concerns that the event organized by Patriot Prayer would lead to a clash with counter-demonstrators.

Joey Gibson, who is Japanese American and leads Patriot Prayer, said his group disavows racism and hatred and wanted to promote dialogue with people who may not share its views. He cancelled a planned rally Saturday at a field under the shadow of the Golden Gate Bridge after he said his members received anonymous threats on social media and feared civic leaders and law enforcement would fail to protect them.

Well, at least his right to speak his mind would be protected. Well, maybe not:

San Francisco officials closed the park where Gibson had planned a news conference after cancelling the rally at Crissy Field. City officials surrounded Alamo Square with a fence and sent scores of police officers —some in riot gear — to keep people out. Lee defended the city’s response.

If you would like to believe- as would I- that the city merely wanted to prevent violence, you'll be disappointed that

“If people want to have the stage in San Francisco, they better have a message that contributes to people’s lives rather than find ways to hurt them,” Lee said. “That’s why certain voices found it very difficult to have their voices heard today.”

Reports that Mayor Lee emphasized his point by employing a visual aid, setting fire to the First Amendment as he spoke, are greatly exaggerated. I think. Evidently, however, at least some citizens are being encouraged by city fathers and mothers to engage in dialogue and voice their opinion, given that

More than a thousand demonstrators against Patriot Prayer still turned out around Alamo Square park waving signs condemning white supremacists and chanting, “Whose streets? Our streets!” Hundreds of others took to the streets in the Castro neighbourhood.

“San Francisco as a whole, we are a liberal city and this is not a place for hate or any sort of bigotry of any kind,” Bianca Harris said. “I think it’s a really powerful message that we’re sending to people who come here to try to spew messages of hate that it’s just not welcome in this city.”

Benjamin Sierra, who organized counter protesters, said the demonstration had become a “victory rally.”

Not a victory for the First Amendment of the US Constitution, which Ms. Harris skipped over when she read the document.  Fortunately, Mr. Maher of "Real Time," speaking generally the day before the rally, is here to explain

This has got to stop- ths idea that people have to go away if they've offended me even for one moment. How about just move on? Turn the page. Go to the next thing in your life. This idea that you cannot suffer one moment of pain.

There are consequences to this dreadful over-sensitivity. Maher stated also

If you talk to Trump people, they're not unaware of his flaws. But what they always say, like the first thing, what they love about hm is he's politically incorrect. 

You know all those years ago, when I called the show "Politically Incorrect", I wasn't exactly wrong. I failed miserably at driving a stake through its heart but that was a problem and it is a problem and we've been choking on it, and he played that and he still plays that. And they love that and even though they know he's bad in a lot of ways, they'd rather be on his team than (on) the insufferable people on the left. That's how they think.

The First Amendment protects sweet and sour and love and hate alike. It allows speech that not only comforts and reassures, but sometimes annoys and angers. Were it not so, it would be as worthless as Mayor Lee is making it out to be.

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