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San Francisco Politicians Want to Quash a Right-Wing 'Freedom Rally'

A litany of bay-area politicians have come out swinging against the First Amendment.

Quinn Dombrowski/Wikimedia CommonsQuinn Dombrowski/Wikimedia CommonsIn the wake of the violence at Virginia's "Unite the Right" rally, San Francisco politicos are trying to quash a coming right-wing rally in their own city.

Figures from current San Francisco mayor Ed Lee to former San Francisco mayor and current U.S. senator Diane Feinstein have demanded that the National Park Service rescind a tentative permit for an August 26 "Freedom Rally." Patriot Prayer, the group organizing the event, hopes to hold it at federally owned Crissy Park.

"In an effort to protect our people from hate speech that can result in violence and actual violence that has been perpetrated by a number of groups," Lee said at a Tuesday press conference, "we have demanded that the National Park Service reevaluate their permit."

London Bree, president of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, was more emphatic, telling prospective ralliers that "you are not welcome in San Francisco. We will do everything we can to stop you from being in San Francisco."

This is not the first time that Patriot Prayer—a group led by internet provocateur Joey Gibson and based in Vancouver, Washington—has sparked this sort of respons. In May, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler demanded that the feds pull a permit for a rally the group had scheduled to hold in the city, similarly citing the dangers of "hate speech." The ACLU of Oregon responded with an unequivocal statement: "The government cannot impose permit restrictions or deny a permit simply because it does not like the message of a certain speaker or group."

The ACLU's words were true then, and they remain true now. "Hate speech" is not a legal term, and invoking it does not somehow allow officials to suppress protected First Amendment activity. Patriot Prayer's cast of speakers—which includes Gibson, Kyle "Based Stickman" Chapman, and self-described "trannie for Trump" Amber Gwen Cummings—say repulsive things. But they have every right to express those views in public.

Even more insidious is the notion that holding a rally is in itself an imminent incitement of violence. But House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) endorsed this idea in a statement opposing the event. ("Free speech does not grant the right to yell fire in a crowded theater, incite violence or endanger the public in any venue," she said.)

It is of course true that some violence has broken out at events organized by Patriot Prayer. Three people were arrested in Portland on August 6 after several scuffles broke out at a Patriot Prayer march. But if politicians can invoke the mere possibility of violence as a reason to clamp down on speech they don't like, you can be sure that the alt-right types won't be the only ones suppressed.

The National Park Service seems to grasp this perfectly well, saying in a statement that "our highest priority is to ensure public safety, while honoring our obligation to uphold one of our nation's most cherished Constitutional rights, the First Amendment right to freedom of speech."

A final permit for the rally is still pending, as the National Park Service undergoes a "thorough public safety review."

Photo Credit: Quinn Dombrowski/Wikimedia Commons

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  • WakaWaka||

    "alt-right types won't be the only ones suppressed"

    And more likely than not these people aren't even alt-right, since the label is now used against anyone to the right of Joseph Stalin

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Is anyone else waiting for that top button to pop off?

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I'm imagining the pearls breaking and tumbling down her decolletage.

  • albo||

    Ewww. Even Rule 34 has its limits

  • Cynical Asshole||

    *Archer voice* Wait, I had something for this... something about a pearl necklace...

  • Dillinger||

    now it's all i can think about.

  • albo||

    undergoes a "thorough public safety review."

    And they really can't cancel the permit because of how they think others may react to the rally. That's not a valid safety concern.

  • Zeb||

    Someone should organize a free speech rally that doesn't have other political goals. I'm sick of having to defend racists and bigots. Free speech should be more fun than this.

  • WakaWaka||

    Pretty sure not all these free speech rallies are organized by bigots. They get labeled as bigots because they maybe support the president and by that fact alone they must be bigots

  • Zeb||

    Oh, I know. But it usually seems to be some group that I don't particularly want to associate with. And when whoever or organizing these things gets labeled as bigots, I have to defend bigots as a class because everyone's speech needs defending. Arguing for free speech is enough. I don't have the patience to argue about who is and isn't a bigot with people who are determined to label all their political opponents that way.

  • Number 7||

    sucks to be guided by intellect instead of emotions. A burden we will have to carry however.

  • Charles Easterly||

    I think it is worth it.

    When I look in the mirror to shave, for example, the individual I see in reflection might not be overly handsome, yet he is a person I can generally respect.

  • Libertymike||

    Hey, you hunk, when I am peeping at you shaving, nature shows you respect as manifested by the bulge in my briefs.

  • SIV||

    If you don't want to associate with them don't go to their rally.

    I've never heard of Joy Gibson and "Patriot Prayer" but a quick internet search says he is a Japanese-American pro-gay, anti-WODs, anti-communist, free speech advocate who preaches God, love and non-violence.
    He appears to fall solidly on the "libertarian spectrum"

    Antifa and the SPLC seem to think he is some sort of dangerous menace because of the anti-communist/anti-government stuff and some of the people who come to his rallies have politically eccentric/incorrect ideas which seem to share more of a pagan than a racialist common theme.

    If someone knows something different,chime in.

  • SIV||

    I'll tangentially add for you whippersnappers that back in the 1990s (when the NRA called federal law enforcement "jack-booted thugs), between Ruby Ridge until OKC, the media used to try and sell the notion that not liking and trusting the government was the exact same hateful ideology as being a white supremacist Nazi. Hating the government was just like hating non-whites and Jews. They really freaked out they couldn't get that moral panic rolling and then Tim McVeigh did it for them. It was like the media couldn't get it done so somebody escalated the anti-anti-government PR campaign

  • Libertymike||

    What do you mean "used to"? The government-media-me too faux libertarian complex continues to promulgate the pablum that distrusting the government means you must be Goebbels.

  • SIV||

    You slept through the "libertarian moment", Mr van Winkle

  • Shapu||

    Well, to be fair, it would have been easy to blink and miss it.

  • hello.||

    the media used to try and sell the notion that not liking and trusting the government was the exact same hateful ideology as being a white supremacist Nazi.

    And some of them, like Reason, never stopped.

  • Zeb||

    OK, sounds like they might be alright.

    If you don't want to associate with them don't go to their rally

    Yeah, I figured that out already.

  • ||

    They get labeled as bigots because they maybe support the president and by that fact alone they must be bigots

    It seems like a bunch of fun-type free speech people, plenty of whom don't support the president, have weighed in on the issue and indicated that they didn't like getting labeled as intolerant bigots.

  • Zeb||

    And good for them. There's nothing worse than a comedian who goes all PC and starts apologizing.

  • Bra Ket||

    There was Milo and that hipster guy, both got the full riot treatment just a few months ago.

  • Dillinger||

    Someone should organize a free speech rally

    what we're doing here?

  • tgrondo||

    Maybe someone could organize a "free speech cruise" and only invite the Swedish Bikini Team....

  • dantheserene||

    Z-
    Like with the first amendment itself, if all speech was popular there would be no need to protect free speech.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    I knew I shouldn't have eaten lunch today.

  • Mickey Rat||

    "I disagree with what you say and will threaten your life to prevent you from saying it."

    The progs return to their Jacobin roots.

  • Charles Easterly||

    I did not know that "respons" is Swedish for "response" until now. Thanks Christian.

    You know who else pretended to be Swedish?

    (I should note that I thought your article to be well written)

  • Cynical Asshole||

    The Swedish Chef from the muppets?

  • Get To Da Chippah||

    +3 borks

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    Patriot Prayer, the group organizing the event, hopes to hold it at federally owned Crissy Park.

    And if the National Park Service does not yield, the SFPD should open fire on the park.

  • Chumby||

    What if they kill a carbon sequestering tree?

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    In SF a cop might actually see jail time for that. Win?

  • Cynical Asshole||

    A litany of bay-area politicians have come out swinging against the First Amendment.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=srw3RdiIlrQ

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    "In an effort to protect our people from hate speech that can result in violence and actual violence that has been perpetrated by a number of groups," Lee said at a Tuesday press conference, "we have demanded that the National Park Service reevaluate their permit."

    Since the left is cool with barring free speech, I'm sure they'd be ok with letting this permit go through and simply denying any counter-protests.

  • Ron||

    "violence that has been perpetrated by a number of groups"

    even they know the violence in charlote had two sides to it

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    Yes. The alt-right, and the alt-right. And some peaceful progressive counter protesters who in no way went there looking for a confrontation.

  • Ariki||

    Yeah apparently they all just like to drink their own piss.
    A summer day of peaceful protest is hard work!

    Hmmmm
    Refreshing!

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    It's sterile and I like the taste.

  • Rich||

    This. "Hate speech that can result in violence", indeed.

  • CE||

    How about banning the violence then?

  • Rich||

    Now *that* is HATE SPEECH!

  • Ron||

    you can yell "FIRE" in a theater

  • Zeb||

    In fact, I have. And nothing else happened.

  • Ron||

    Was it on fire or empty at the time?

  • Roger Wilco||

    They'll get their way. 1A thru 5A are all pretty much toast, with maybe the exception of 3. At least the massive military budget obviates that

  • CE||

    They're not quartered in your house, but they can invade at any time.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    Shouldn't all the city codes banning air bnb make such police tactics illegal?

  • Bra Ket||

    I like how they made a point of noting "actual violence", as opposed to that imaginary version they usually complain about.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    You know, that's actually a great point. Parsing language is a great way to tell what someone is actually thinking. I think you nailed it there.

  • Jerryskids||

    Maybe if they're going to San Francisco they should wear some flowers in their hair. I've heard the hippies that moved out there years ago are all into that doing your own thing and being just groovy and laid back with whatever floats your boat. Totally non-judgmental and open-minded about everything. It sure sounds like a swell place.

  • CE||

    They used to protest to protect free speech in Berkeley. Now they protest to shut it down.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    They never protested for free speech but speech they thought was cool.

    Now the boomers are in charge and you see how they really are.

  • Fuck you, Shikha (Nunya)||

    The great generation stole my money. Their kids stole my kids money and decided to control speech for both my kid and me. Tell me again how much Gen X sucks.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Gen X definitely made mistakes but these Boomers and Greatest gen just refuse to take any cuts to their social welfare.

  • MarkLastname||

    Members of groups that aren't allowed access to public property should be given tax refunds so they don't have to finance said public services.

    It's only fair.

  • Chumby||

    But how will public parks that prohibit certain viewpoints from being communicated be funded?

  • Rockabilly||

    Let's Play Who is the racist !!! How many KKK members did Trump appoint to the supreme court? Zero. How many KKK members did FDR, the socialist god, appoint? One = Hugo Black of the KKK was appointed to the supreme court by FDR, the socialist god. Who is the racist? FDR, the socialist god!!!

  • Shapu||

    Wow, an unabashedly pro-civil-liberties article. I'm impressed. (Not ironic. Many articles lately even on platforms that should be friendly to free speech and right to assembly have been at best lukewarm on the subject.)

  • Shapu||

    Wow, an unabashedly pro-free-speech article! Looking forward to reading more from you, Mr. Britschgi. (Is that Czech?)

  • Shapu||

    Sorry for the near-dup. Browser hung when I tried to submit earlier, and shoulda checked whether it had posted.

  • AlmightyJB||

    You don't need to apologize. We're all aware of how crappy the commenting function on this site is.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    If you only gave money each year, Reason would fix those issues.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Yeah, this shit isn't going to have reprocussions. The left might want to think this through before they declare war on free speech. They may not like the consequences. Oh, that's right, they're incapable of thought.

  • JeremyR||

    Why wouldn't they like the consequences? They are the one running the media, the tech companies (and thus the internet), the universities, and have the bulk of the unelected officials in all branches and all levels of the government.

    They will be the ones deciding what speech is allowable or not. Just like we've seen this past year. Violence is okay when it's from BLM or the women's march. It's okay from a Bernie Bro. It's okay from Muslims, even when directed at gays.

  • hello.||

    Yep. And Reason will be there leading the parade, right up until the very second they are lined up against the wall for their corporatist special pleading on behalf of their Koch paymasters.

  • Brian||

    And the alt-right is having and fight, self-inflicted wound after wound. Is that a white hood and bed sheet? This is not lookin good....

    But, wait: the progressive left is coming out with a surprise left hook to their own face: bitching about hate speech and first amendment hysteria! It's blow after blow! Who will knock themselves out first? There's only one way to find out!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    The KKK was formed by Democrats.

    Party of slavery. Gotta remember that.

  • JSpey||

    "In an effort to protect our people from hate speech that can result in violence and actual violence"

    groan.

  • hello.||

    San Francisco Politicians Want to Quash a Right-Wing 'Freedom Rally'

    So does every single writer at Reason. The San Francisco politicians at least want to ensure public safety at the same time. Reason would rather allow the rally and then scream their full throated support while the organizers are summarily executed in the streets by black racial gangs and communist paramilitary shock troopers.

  • tommyguns2||

    ^^^^ huh?

  • PaulTheBeav||

    It's impressive how good the left is at catching hate speech before the speakers have even opened their mouths. It's like they're psychic or something.

  • tommyguns2||

    What is sobering to me is how effective this argument has become, even though any scintilla of critical thought would dismiss it as hogwash. I guess dumbing down education so that graduates can't critically think has it's advantages for progressives.

    You just incite violence when people are going to say something you disagree with, and then later when trying to quash the next guy from speaking you complain that every time "those guys" speak there is violence, so we need to shut them down in the name of "public safety."

    I'm going to remember the line about violence and use it next time. Do you mean "violence" or "'actual violence?" Who knew these were two separate things?

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