Recent events have caused us to reexamine the limits of our freedoms.
In particular, what is the limit of free speech? Where is the line between hate speech and free speech? And how to react when that line is crossed?
On Monday, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler asked organizers to cancel two scheduled right-wing rallies and marches, including one planned by an anti-Muslim group. He also asked the federal government to block the events.
This is a reaction to the deaths of two men who were stabbed to death trying to intervene when a man shouted racial and religious hate speech at two women.
The suspect, Jeremy Joseph Christian, attended a far-right rally in April where he is said to have frequently used the n-word and saluted Hitler.
Even those horrified by the violence that took place in Portland must fear this sets a dangerous precedent. Should a group of Americans be denied the right to express their opinion because of the actions of one man who aligns himself with them? Even the ACLU doesn’t think so.
At Washington State University, the administration is wrestling with the limits of free speech following the posting of a racist video based on events that took place on campus.
“The election in November gave some groups the feeling that it’s OK to say whatever you think without regard to how that might impact people around them,” President Kirk Schulz said May 23. “One of the things we want to work with our students on is how to disagree but do it in an agreeable fashion.”
That is the question many campuses and cities are asking themselves.
And boy is this question ripe with hypocrisy. Those who are anti-Islam associate law abiding Muslims with extremists who carry out mass killings, yet we’re likely to hear Portland demonstrators cry foul when their rights are threatened due the actions of one of their crazed followers.
The government may have no legal standing to stop protesters from demonstrating, but people of all viewpoints and opinions – at WSU, Portland and everywhere else – must understand that if they encourage and condone hatred toward another, they risk not only the lives of others, but the freedoms they hold dear.
editorial, free speech, Portland, block right wing protests, opinion, not consitutional