I don’t want this to devolve into “But he said this and that justifies everything!” so I’m going to leave names out of it, and tell you a story instead.
There once was a small city. The mayor of that city decided to use private funds to bring a certain political talk show host to the city. The host had been born in the city, you see, and was a semi-minor celebrity. But because a good number of the citizens of this city had different political views than the host, these citizens decided to attempt to flout free speech and force the mayor to rescind his invitation.
So far, thank God, the mayor has held firm.
I’ve read the letters in the local paper, and yesterday and today had the disquiet of watching a (thankfully small) group of people protesting outside City Hall. And honestly? I’m furious.
If someone is invited to your city to practice his right of free speech and you don’t approve of his politics, you have the right to stand up and say: “I don’t agree with you.” You can even give your reasons why. But you don’t have the right to attempt to shut down his freedom of speech, which is exactly what I see happening in my city, right now. I read the signs those protesters were waving; they weren’t “I don’t agree with you” signs, they were “We don’t like you, and we’re going to force you to not speak” signs.
Those who wave banners in the name of free speech while completely failing to understand what free speech is, infuriate me. They don’t comprehend what it will cost us, if people like those protesters get their way. They don’t understand their own history.
And what a truly stupid thing to waste time protesting, anyway. The best way to make someone like a talk show host go away, is to stop feeding him publicity. And there are so many other things going on that should be protested. For instance, the use of public money to fund useless purely ornamental projects while people are losing their jobs and homes.
If you don’t like a speaker’s politics, don’t attend his lecture (and hope, if you want, that everyone else shares your opinion and the hall is empty). Forcing a person to not speak is no different, and every bit as despicable as a public book-burning.
Apparently the theater where this event is going to happen, local businesses, and the local spring festival organizers are all being harassed by those opposed to the speaker. That’s hilarious. For one thing, this event is put on solely at the Mayor’s choice, and with private money. It has absolutely NOTHING to do with local businesses or the festival. They have no power whatsoever to change anything…so those callers are really wasting their time. And in the case of the theater itself, the owners are legally bound not to discriminate. They can’t refuse to book an event like this because they don’t believe in the speaker’s politics.
But here’s the kicker: the calls have been logged (as to where they are coming from). The vast majority are coming from people who aren’t only NOT in the city, but not even in the same state! As if someone in a different state should have any say whatsoever in what happens here!
But in good news, the same day the event tickets went on sale, they were completely sold out by noon. So I guess there’s still plenty of people IN the city who actually believe in free speech…and common sense.