MENU

Reason.com

Free Minds & Free Markets

The Minority Leader Who Cried Wolf in a Crowded Theater

Nancy Pelosi doesn't understand free speech.

Nancy Rivera / Splash News/NewscomNancy Rivera / Splash News/NewscomHouse Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) mixed her metaphors this week while trying to argue for free speech restrictions.

During an interview with San Francisco TV station KRON4, Pelosi was asked whether the National Park Service (NPS) should deny a permit to a group of "alt-right" activists who plan to hold a demonstration Saturday in Crissy Field, a federally controlled park along San Francisco Bay. The NPS issued the permit to the Patriot Prayer group, but only after organizers agreed to ban guns and tiki torches from the rally, the A.P. reported. But Pelosi, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, and San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee have criticized that decision, calling for the NPS to police not just parks, but the speech of individuals within those parks.

Pelosi thinks the government has the authority to do that, and here's why:

"The Constitution does not say that a person can yell 'wolf' in a crowded theater," Pelosi told KRON4's Pam Moore. "If you are endangering people, you don't have a constitutional right to do that."

It would appear that Pelosi is confused about the distinction between the infamous cliché "shouting fire in a crowded theater," a line from Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in the 1919 Supreme Court case Schenck v. United States, and the clichéd parable of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," which warns about not overreacting to imaginary threats.

The whole thing is even better because, in this case, Pelosi is playing the role of the boy (or congresswoman) who cried wolf. She's calling for a reaction against a threat that hasn't materialized yet. That's what all prior restraints on speech are, of course, but she's calling for a very specific action to be taken against a very specific group of people who haven't even gathered yet, much less done anything that could be rightfully called "endangering people."

But whether we're talking about shouting "fire" in a theater or "wolf" in a park, the real issue here is that Pelosi seems to misunderstand the very metaphor she's mangling in an attempt to justify limiting speech.

Start with Schenck. That ruling doesn't mean what many people—including, apparently, one of the highest-ranking elected officials in the U.S. government—think it does. Here's the full line: "The most stringent protection of free speech would not protect a man in falsely shouting fire in a theater and causing a panic." Holmes is ruminating on the the limits of constitutional protections in a theoretical way, not laying down a bright line for when the First Amendment doesn't apply. Holmes was trying to justify the conviction of two Socialist Party members who had done nothing more heinous than distributing flyers that opposed the military draft. The two claimed a First Amendment right to distribute those flyers, so Holmes concocted a limit to the First Amendment.

That ruling, including the "falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater" bit, is bad law. It's been almost universally recognized as such in the century since Holmes wrote the ruling, and the Supreme Court has taken steps to roll back its limits on free speech.

The only people who trot out the "shouting fire in a crowded theater" line these days are authoritarians grasping for excuses to censor people. That includes Pelosi, yes, but also Feinstein, who has used it to justify keeping conservative speakers off college campuses. New York City Councilman Peter Vallone tried to use it to get Twitter accounts shut down during Hurricane Sandy. Feinstein has used it as an argument for shutting down WikiLeaks; pundits have invoked it when calling for prosecuting the maker of anti-Muslim YouTube videos. "Holmes' quote is the most famous and pervasive lazy cheat in American dialogue about free speech," attorney Ken White, a.k.a. Popehat, wrote in a must-read takedown of the Schenck case.

The modern standard for free speech comes from the 1969 case Brandenburg v. Ohio, in which court ruled that free speech cannot be restricted "except where such advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action."

It's true that the alt-right group gathering in San Francisco is likely to espouse some hateful, noxious speech. When they do, they should be criticized and condemned for it, as their friends in Charlottesville were. But even if you assume they're up to no good, it's pretty clear that their asking for a permit does not rise to the level of "imminent lawless action." The National Park Service was right to award the permit. Doing otherwise would have been a violation of the First Amendment, wolves and fires notwithstanding.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • Brian||

    Pre-crime is so hot right now.

  • Quixote||

    "The only people who trot out the 'shouting fire in a crowded theater' line these days are authoritarians grasping for excuses to censor people."

    This is a fake claim. The important "shouting fire in a crowed theater" principle was specifically cited by the trial judge in our nation's leading criminal "satire" case, and surely nobody here would dare to defend the inappropriate "First Amendment dissent" of a single, isolated, so-called judge in that case. See the documentation at:

    https://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

    We are talking here not about any sort of "pre"-crime, but about serious speech crimes that need to be rapidly suppressed if we are to survive as a nation. It is simply intolerable to have people trolling around with offensive, inappropriately deadpan "parodies" mocking presidential advisers like Steve Bannon or distinguished members of the academic community, especially ones holding departmental chairmanships at institutions like New York University. Anyone who engages in such crimes should be immediately arrested and imprisoned, regardless of any of the fake "free speech" nonsense we keep hearing from the "First Amendment community" (which itself has revealed itself to be a manifest joke, a fact easily seen when one looks at the politically tailored activities of organizations like the ACLU).

  • Laird||

    There is no such thing as a "speech crime".

  • Elias Fakaname||

    You make some good points. Definitely on top of your game today.

  • Quixote||

    Specifically, at p. 1021 of the "Joint Appendix" or trial transcript in America's leading criminal "satire" case, the distinguished court justifies the excellent expansion of New York's fraud doctrine to reach one form of inappropriate speech in the following terms:

    "What you were doing is a form of yelling fire in that crowded theater."

    This makes mincemeat of Mr. Boem's claim that "the only people who trot out the 'shouting fire in a crowded theater' line these days are authoritarians grasping for excuses to censor people." Surely Mr. Boehm wouldn't dare to say such a thing about an honorable judge of a New York criminal court, would he?

  • Quixote||

    P.s. and the judge's statement also makes mincemeat of certain claims made by Mr. Hihn in his diatribe below. The "Joint Appendix" is, of course, included in the documentation at the linked site. See:

    http://tinyurl.com/raphaelgolbtrialtranscript

    Anyone can go to the link and immediately verify it's from the same website I linked above (I had to shorten it to insert it here since the actual link is longer than 50 characters).

  • Quixote||

    Mr. Hihn continues with his fake effort to misrepresent my comments. Nowhere did I claim that the "crowded theater" doctrine (if it can be called that) was originated by a New York judge. I merely pointed out that the doctrine, contrary to Mr. Boehm's assertion, is currently used to justify the suppression of inappropriate speech by American courts, regardless of the application that the doctrine originally had or the circumstances in which it was originally enunciated. And my comment was perfectly relevant, to the incorrect assertion of Mr. Boehm's.

  • Quixote||

    What is really becoming quite clear, is that America's leading criminal "satire" case (as well as others that could be cited--but I choose it as an excellent example) confounds the defenders of "First Amendment principles" in that country. In their effort to deny that criminal courts and prosecutors can simply get around those principles whenever they want to, and that they will be upheld by appellate courts under various excellent pretexts (even if contrived out of thin air and retroactively applied, when necessary), they are obliged to squirm, posture and misrepresent. So I say, why not tell the simple truth, and admit that this "free speech" stuff is simply nonsense? If there is a kind of speech we really don't like, we will find a way to suppress it, regardless of the lofty proclamations of the "First Amendment community" (ha-ha-ha).

  • Quixote||

    P.s. and Mr. Hihn's statement "still no link," when I have precisely inserted a link to the relevant portion of the trial transcripts, shows that he is talking of the top of his head. Really, one should expect a more solid approach from someone who claims to be exposing falsehoods.

  • Quixote||

    P.p.s. and I'm sorry for my typo: off the top of his head.

  • Quixote||

    Here is more squirming, posturing and misrepresentation, disguised as supercilious bluster. I did not say the trial judge in our nation's leading criminal "satire" case invoked the famous "shouting fire in a crowded theater" language as part of a "ruling," nor do I need to misrepresent anything in that manner to make my point, which remains that her declaration, obviously reflecting as it did her thought-processes and legally informed opinion, makes mincemeat of Mr. Boehm's claim. By continually misrepresenting my basic point, Hihn, and now Nolan, engage in the very falsehood they attribute to me.

  • Could not connect to remo||

    As I like to say, "Your rights end where they begin to impinge upon mine"

  • Quixote||

    Precisely, and that is why we should re-criminalize libel everywhere in the United States, even under "far-fetched" pretexts if necessary, just as long as we can put a stop to the trolls.

  • ||

    Rights characterized as "nonsense", "crimes", "simply intolerable", inappropriately deadpan 'parodies', is an emotional statement of your collectivist mentality, NOT an argument for the "immediate arrest and imprisonment" of those exercing them. Also, calling defense of rights "fake nonsense" and "a manifest joke" is not "a fact easily seen" by observing some organizations that have members who selectively defend rights. Why? Because the actions of some with a social agenda can coincide with rights defense. They are not mutually exclusive, as you seen to imply.

  • Quixote||

    I am always amused when people speak of "rights" as if such objects actually existed, rather than being the perverse expression of a fundamentally un-American mentality.

    As for speech crimes, let's be real, not fake. While it might not be a crime to send out an email under X's name that deceives an audience into believing that X has sent out "holiday greetings," sending one that portrays X as seeking to "suppress allegations of misconduct" is indeed a crime, based on the content of the speech, and it is a crime even if the alleged misconduct actually took place. That, despite the "First Amendment dissent" of a single, isolated judge, is the law in America, the land of "free speech" and Internet liberty, so let's not go around announcing that speech crimes don't exist.

  • Quixote||

    Surely you are not defending the "First Amendment dissent" of a single, isolated judge?
    Assuming that you are not, then I'm glad to see that you agree that sending out inappropriately deadpan parodies with the alleged intent to "deceive" and to "damage a reputation" poses a "threat of a clear and present danger." So much for your "rights" under the "First Amendment" of America, which basically means that it's okay to politely express an opinion, at proper times and places and in a proper manner. Cross that line, and we will put you in prison, where you belong.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    There ARE carve outs to free speech. As an example, I can't make clear verbal death threats towards you. I can't slander you in public., etc..

  • Quixote||

    As usual, the purported defenders of "free speech" casually elide certain issues, such as whether "slandering someone in public" should result in the same criminal (not civil) penalties as "making clear verbal death threats," or whether hate speech is not an "incitation to violence," despite a 50-year old ruling of the American high court that is clearly no longer quite as valid as it once may have seemed.

    So let's remember the old saying, that if you are not willing to stand up for everyone's "rights," don't be surprised when your "rights" are trampled over with big black boots. But the simple fact here is none of the so-called free-speech "experts" dares to defend the inappropriate "First Amendment dissent" of a single, isolated judge in our nation's leading criminal "satire" case. We appear to agree, then, that those who engage in inappropriately deadpan "parody" susceptible of damaging a reputation should be jailed for their foul, illegitimate "speech," regardless of any of the "First Amendment" nonsense we keep hearing from certain pundits.

  • Quixote||

    P.s. a small note to Michael Hihn: apparently you have not read my initial posting above; if you had done so, you would have realized that in my follow-up comments, I am obviously not referring to the unanimous ruling that Boehm has (according to you, falsely) discussed here.

  • Quixote||

    I would naturally reply to all of Michael Hihn's pronouncements and interpretations (me, satire? never heard the word), but having other things to attend to, will leave the bulk of them for another day, and merely select one point he makes: that my "link on [sic] NEVER says that." Apparently unlike Mr. Hihn, I have spent a good deal of time exploring the documentation of our leading criminal "satire" case gathered at the linked site,

    http://raphaelgolbtrial.wordpress.com/

    where the "shouting fire in a crowded theater" admonishment by the trial judge will be found among the transcripts, hence proving the continuing vitality of that doctrine in all contexts where any form of inappropriate speech must be suppressed, decisively criminalized and punished. One day when I have the time I will locate the specific page on which the statement occurs, so as to bring it forward either here or in future discussions.

  • Quixote||

    P.s. and before retiring for the evening, in case I have misunderstood, please do explain exactly what was meant by "never says THAT."

  • Quixote||

    Quite a diatribe from Mr. Hihn -- but that's okay, at least for the time being (until we can close a few loopholes), it is all protected by the American "First Amendment."

    Fortunately, however, Mr. Hihn is wrong. The "First Amendment dissent" of a single, isolated judge does not contain any language about "shouting fire in a crowded theater," as Mr. Hihn would know if he had actually read that inappropriate "dissenting" opinion.

    On the other hand, the trial transcript of America's leading criminal "satire" case, at p. 1021, does contain that language, which was used to justify New York's excellent expansion of the doctrine of fraud to reach, and to criminalize, inappropriately deadpan "parody" issued as part of an improper campaign of academic "criticism." The trial judge specifically said: "what you were doing is a form of yelling fire in that crowded theater."

  • Quixote||

    P.s. This material (both the "First Amendment dissent" and the actual trial transcript) is, of course, included in the documentation supplied at the linked site. However much Mr. Hihn might dislike it, his statements have now been shown to be false. Far from me to accuse him of intentionally injecting fake news into this discussion; his statements seem rather to result from a momentary lapse of making excusable, albeit erroneous, assumptions on his part, and perhaps from a lack of interest in actually reading beyond the "first page" of the linked material. But perhaps Mr. Hihn should verify his claims before he chooses to repeat them.

  • Quixote||

    P.p.s. and chief among those erroneous assumptions, of course, is the assumption that Quixote would say something unsupported by the actual facts. What's needed here is another turn of the screw, not hysterical ranting at someone who points out the simple truth.

  • seahorsedan||

    "The law is perfectly well settled" Cities do not infringe on the right to assemble when they require a permit to accommodate a crowd. In 1969, the Court said that the cases "have fashioned the principle that the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do ... permit a State to proscribe the use of force ... where advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action."(344)
    It appears to me the Mayors neglecting to enforce this regulation producing imminent lawless action are unconscionable partisan incompetents and should be recalled forth with. Public safety must be their first priority.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Once it really got out of hand, if I were the police chief, I probably would have started hauling in just about everybody who looked like they were being aggressive. Even if it meant just releasing them without charges a few hours later. That likely would have defused things. As it stands, there was no excuse for the cops not maintains better order. Even if they were allegedly told to stand down by the mayor.

  • ||

    Jesus Christ, will someone put an end to that 'you can't yell fire' myth bull shit?

    The other day someone said to me in a discussion about Trayvon, 'he was only going for Skittles!'

    It amazes me how people can be uncurious and can't be bothered to, you know, dig for information a little deeper.

    Take care!

  • loveconstitution1789||

    Hello.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    I would at least hope that Leftists who toss this quote out would realize that it was used to justify punishing a Socialist. Even if they now think said Socialist should have been punished it seems the Left would grasp that this kind of power can be used against them as well as against their enemies.

    But I often hope for too much.

  • ||

    I think it's a mistake to equate Democrats with the "hard left." Mainstream Democrats have long been more scared of Socialists than they are of Republicans, going at least back to FDR.

  • damikesc||

    Until I hear Democrats condemning antifa, then I will happily equate the groups,

  • ||

    It's okay, because They do it, too.

  • ThomasD||

    Antifa is substantially more deserving of the treatment the TEA parties received at the hands of the media, yet they get nothing of the sort.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    I'm surprised you would say that, being a WA resident too. Aren't these largely the same folks that wreck up the place in Seattle whenever there's a WTO meeting or something similar? At least that's what I've always gotten out of it listening to friends on the west side of the state.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    I see what you're saying but that's not the point I'm making. Mainstream Democrats seem to have the idea that they can restrict free speech just for one specific group. That mistaken notion is going to bite them in the ass.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Is there any "mainstream" group that would not support limiting the speech of their opponents?

  • Duke of url||

    Libertaria.......oh, wait you said "mainstream"

  • damikesc||

    The other day someone said to me in a discussion about Trayvon, 'he was only going for Skittles!'

    It amazes me how people can be uncurious and can't be bothered to, you know, dig for information a little deeper.

    Do I need to remind you that people are STILL pissy that Trump equated neo-Nazis and antifa? I mean, one group are fascists asshats while the other group is neo-Nazis, but the press, Dems, and an awful lot of GOP people seem to buy into the "Well, we're fighting fascism" nonsense.

  • SoCal Loko||

    White Supremacy/Fascism is nearly universally condemned so of course the ruling class is going to social preen to look like the "good guy/gal". What more people need to do is call them out for this BS posturing. They have no moral ground to stand when they continue to wage endless and pointless wars across the globe.

  • Bob Meyer||

    It says right on the Skittles bag that if someone watches you while you are carrying Skittles it is perfectly acceptable to beat them to death. However, shooting someone carrying Skittles who is trying to beat you to death is not acceptable.

    Of course this assumes that the person is licensed to carry Skittles. Carrying Skittles without a license is punishable by a week in a stockade, deportation and/or a fine not to exceed 10 million quatloos.

    "Skittles and their officers, suppliers and distributors are not responsible for the content of this post".

  • Sanjuro Tsubaki||

    What would Jesus do? He'd yell fire in a public theater, using the PA system.

    The "fire" B.S. won't die because our ruling class desperately needs it. Ultimately, the last defense of the 1st amendment is the 2nd.

  • ||

    As the illegal gun confiscation after Katrina and the draconian, house-house forced evacutions in Watertown showed, gun possession is useless if the will to fight back is not present. Both were trial runs, tests by govt. of the will to resist force with force, by the victimized. The public failed completely.

    What was the aftermath? Did the public learn anything? Did they regret their submission? Let's hope so.

  • Sanjuro Tsubaki||

    "Do we need guns because the bad guys have them. Or do they have guns because we do?"

    Yes. Next (stupid, rhetorical) question please....

  • Sanjuro Tsubaki||

    Elementary schools actually aren't the sort of places where logic is put to much use, but since you're fond of ad hominems and contrivances, you'd likely fit right in.

  • BambiB||

    Yep. Trayvon was only going for Skittles because, well, you can't make "Lean" without them, right?

    He just happened to stumble across Zimmerman - and decided to attack him... which turned out to be a poor decision.

    Then Obozo claimed Trayvon as "his son" and libtards in Florida government insisted on a trial.

    It turned out to be utterly bizarre. I remember watching the opening statements of the prosecutor and thinking, "Does he know he's not DEFENDING Zimmerman?"

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Without media attention I very much doubt a competent prosecutor would bring that case. Too much evidence supporting Zimmerman's version of events (especially the autopsy and blood splatter forensics) and too many things that were unprovable, like the actual nature of the confrontation between the two before it got physical.

    No impartial jury should have been able to get around reasonable doubt.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    I've been to,d that it would be difficult to self inflict the wound the same way as if someone else were pounding his head in. Plus the forensic evidence supported his contention that he shot Treyvon while prone.woth Traupyvon straddling him. That part would be extremely difficult to stage. Especially since a blood splatter expert would catch on to that in a nanosecond.

    I also,don't consider Zimmerman to be enough of a diabolical genius to be able to stage much of anything while in a panic. Which I'm sure he was pretty freaked out, having never shot someone before.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    There is not enough time left in the universe for you to sit here and list the things Nancy Pelosi is wrong about.

  • Longtobefree||

    With the beauty of the English language, the list has only one word; everything.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    The complete doddering idiocy of democrat leaders like Pelosi, Waters, the Wasserbeast, etc. are why the republicans almost look good by comparison. The democrat rank and file are so programmed to reflexively defend their party masters no matter what that they have descended to an incredibly low common denominator.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Don't get me started on congressional republicans. That's an entire unpleasant subject on its own. I'm waiting for another chance to see my rep, Cathy McMorris-Rodgers face to face so I can tear into her. A lot of us locally want to primary her out, but she's too well funded right now to do that. Unless she makes a major blunder in the next six months or so.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Yes, and pretty sure I voted for you.

  • ||

    That is because the Constitution doesn't enumerate rights of citizens. It enumerates limits on government. As accorded by the authors of the Declaration of Independence, the rights of citizens are Natural Law and unalienable.

    The Declaration was full of hateful language and incitement to violent action, and the signers were unquestionably guilty of treason. It is pretty clear that the guys that actually wrote the Constitution understood freedom of thought and freedom to express thoughts as part of the Natural Law and an unalienable right, even expressions of hatred and incitement to violent and treasonous activities.

    People are always responsible for the consequences of their words and actions. But consequences, by definition, have to follow. The Government has no authority to preemptively punish speech by denying right of assembly in the public domain.

    As an aside, Pelosi's ridiculous reference to wolves is a Freudian slip. She sees herself in role of the good shepherd. But shepherds only protect the sheep from wolves so that they can shear and/or eat them themselves.

  • ||

    Sorry if my post seems pedantic. I just cringe every time someone says or even hints that the Constitution gives us rights or that we are allowed to do something because the Constitution says we can.

    Also, do people realize that the language Jefferson used in the Declaration was inflammatory? It was the modern equivalent of Tom sauntering up to the king and poking his Majesty in the eye with his big 10".

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Sorry if my post seems pedantic.

    Never apologize to Sparky.

  • Longtobefree||

    "Never apologize Mister, it's a sign of weakness." Henry Fonda to John Wayne, Fort Apache.

  • ||

    10" quill, Jefferson was famed for the size of his quill.

  • ThomasD||

    Man, you guys really know your history!

  • Eek Barba Durkle||

    Why do you think Sally went back?

    Other than the slavery aspect, I mean.

  • TheHydra||

    What about crying fire in a burning theater, is that allowed?

  • LynchPin1477||

    I was once told that crying for "help" won't get as quick a response as yelling "fire", so if you need help you should yell "fire". So can I be prosecuted for yelling "fire" in a crowded theater if the guy next to me is having a heart attack?

  • Citizen X - #6||

  • Migrant Log Chipper||

    Fuck off Hihn and quit the thread necrophilia while you're at it.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    What you can't do is fire crowds into a wolf theater. That much we know.

  • ||

    Yelling "wolf" in a theater:


    See? Nobody cares.

  • Longtobefree||

    They would in a college theater! Title IX expulsion for sure.

  • Earth Skeptic||

    How about shouting "theater" in a burning fire?

  • Duke of url||

    What about firing Pelosi into a crowd of theater wolfs?

  • Dooley Stetson||

    I used to work in a theater until I threw a burning wolf into the crowd, and my manager shouted "You're fired!"

  • ThomasD||

    Combustionist.

  • Eric Bana||

    What about crying "theater" in a crowded fire?

  • Catsmeat Potter Pirbright||

    What about yelling "movie" in a crowded firehouse??

  • Alan Vanneman||

    I believe Nancy said "No one has the right to call 'Rolf' in a crowded theater." Nancy has always taken a very firm stand against Rolfing. It seems to be a California thing.

  • Bob Meyer||

    If you were "Rolfed" in a crowded theater you would almost certainly cry out.

  • LynchPin1477||

    It's true that the alt-right group gathering in San Francisco is likely to espouse some hateful, noxious speech

    Is it? I know nothing about Patriot Prayer Group. Do they have a history of that sort of thing?

  • Crusty Juggler||

  • Zeb||

    The founder of the group likes Trump, so that's probably good enough for a lot of people to go on.

  • Rhywun||

    I wouldn't trust any news source within 500 miles of SF to be honest about these things.

  • Zeb||

    But even from that slanted article, I don't get much sense that the group itself is racist or anything like that.

  • Rhywun||

    Yeah... as I got further down the page, you know, where nobody else reads, I saw that evidence.

  • LynchPin1477||

    Yeah, that article doesn't make them sound bad at all. I mean, even the SPLC doesn't list them as a hate group, and they list everyone as a hate group. Maybe they are just too new...

  • Longtobefree||

    "and they list everyone as a hate group"
    Really? I did not find a single Jihadist group on the list. I did not find antifa on the list. In fact, there were less than 1,000 on the list; it would be less, but they count each chapter of larger groups as distinct.

  • Jerryskids||

    •Indeed, the Southern Poverty Law Center which tracks hate groups does not list Patriot Prayer as such, nor is Gibson considered an extremist by the advocacy center;
    •In fact, the Law Center reported that at the most recent Patriot Prayer event, Gibson shouted from the stage "F*** white supremacists! F*** neo-Nazis!"

    You ain't much of a hate group if Mo Dees hasn't even gotten around to calling you a hate group. But we all know the only reason white supremacists denounce white supremacy is to try and pretend they're not white supremacists but they ain't fooling nobody, denying you're a white supremacist proves you're a white supremacist.

    For some reason about all I can find on the group are news reports referring to them as alt-right, white supremacist, racists, right-wing extremists, etc. - except an early news item referring to them as Trump supporters. Interestingly, they're referring to a Patriot Prayer rally in support of Trump where they were attacked by Anti-FA "counter-protestors" without explaining what it was exactly the PP people were protesting that would make their opposition "counter"-protestors.

  • ||

    But we all know the only reason white supremacists denounce white supremacy is to try and pretend they're not white supremacists but they ain't fooling nobody, denying you're a white supremacist proves you're a white supremacist.

    This particular white supremacist went so far as to disguise himself as a mixed-race guy.

    There really is no low too low for them to stoop to.

  • seahorsedan||

    Because ANTIFA stated goals are the violation of the norms of behavior that are considered violations of the property rights of others for political purposes they are by definition a terrorist organization.
    Ethnocentric individuals believe that they are better than other individuals for reasons based solely on their heritage. Clearly, this practice is related to problems of both racism and prejudice.
    While many people may recognize the problems, they may not realize that ethnocentrism occurs everywhere and everyday at both the local and political levels. White Power, Black Power, even the Sinocentric system developed out of the idea of the "Mandate of Heaven" by Confucius are examples of participants of a practice that many of us consider taboo, i.e. rude but don't without further action violate the property rights of others therefore there is a major distinction.

  • XM||

    So the media lied about antifa assaulting at least one journalist and picking fights with hate group trying to walk by? They didn't throw objects and urine filled bottles at people?

    "No right is absolute"

    That's right, and that's why you can't shout "fire" at a crowded theater. Because that (might) create a panic and lead to injuries. If someone gets a permit to hold rallies at a park to say "All of America should be white" or "The sky is actually purple" it's well within their right to do so.

    What... exactly are you raging about? You're always mad about something or some position that exists in your head.

  • Zeb||

    From what I can find quickly, it doesn't seem that they are themselves any kind of racist or white nationalist group. But some of those types have showed up at other Patriot Prayer events.

  • lafe.long||

    The guy is non-white and sounds like a "slightly right" libertarian to me.

    ... but hey, those pants aren't going to shit themselves.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    One could argue that jumping to the conclusion of pants-shitting is in fact pants-shitting.

  • Zeb||

    Damn it, I thought that we were all done with the pants-shitting pants-shitting.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    I've been wearing my Depends just for moments like this, Zeb.

  • ThomasD||

    So you say.

  • Jerryskids||

    Are you pants-shitting over pants-shitting over pants-shitting?

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Jeez Jerry I like the way it feels after it escapes my diaper and trickles down my leg.

  • Zeb||

    I thought I was in trouble for a minute, but it was just a wet fart.

  • Bob Meyer||

    I can't tell the difference between a wet fart and a Pelosi speech.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    One is some random noises, a bad smell, and a growing feeling of discomfort, and the other one is a wet fart.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    "we have to pass it to know what's in it" has a while new meaning

  • lafe.long||

    One could argue that jumping to the conclusion of pants-shitting is in fact pants-shitting.

    You're right. There will be absolutely no histrionics.

    SF Mayor Ed Lee:

    "The shameful, anti-American trend of hate-filled extremist rallies will unfortunately be allowed to continue this weekend in our city," Lee said. "Let us show this nation that San Francisco is a city of peace and unity. Do not engage with the members of this group, whose only priority is to incite violence through divisive rhetoric."
  • Jerryskids||

    Shorter Ed Lee: "What do you tell a white guy with two black eyes? Nothing, he's obviously already been told twice. Hahahaha! "

  • Rhywun||

    hate-filled extremist rallies

    I thought Pride was a few weeks ago.

    *ducks*

  • ThomasD||

    "...incite violence through divisive rhetoric..."

    Fuck, that's not even a dog whistle. That is an explicit suggestion that violence is an acceptable response to speech you do not approve.

    I'm sure Nick Gillespie will get right on this.

  • Billy Bones||

    I imagine one could fill a book the size of Oxford English Dictionary with all the things Pelosi doesn't understand.

  • ||

    I do think simply listing out every word that's ever been used in the language would pretty well cover it in the most efficient manner possible.

  • Rebel Scum||

    At least we can still cry 'Nazi' in a crowded park.

  • DJF||

    """"falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater""""

    Concerning a case which had nothing to do with theaters, crowded or not, nor shouting, falsely or not.

    But was about handing out flyers protesting the draft during WW1

    Just think, Pelosi helps write our laws

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    She and Maxine Waters need to team up to take down President Trump. Add Hillary into the mix and it could be like a Charlie's Angels kind of thing.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    *unzips*

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Those women deserve more than to be treated as sexual objects for your self abuse.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    They somehow deserve less.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Bill Clinton never treated Hillary as a sex object.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Too many fat chicks in trailer parks and too little time.........

  • Bob Meyer||

    That trio could do for erections what pins can do for balloons.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    I could see them costarring in a sort of 'Dumb and Dumber' buddy picture.

  • Crusty Juggler||

    Late night comedy's lack of desire to make fun of this rich, old, cartoonish hag speaks volumes, especially because her laugh is truly horrifying.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Pelosi seems to mostly slip beneath the general cultural radar, which is a shame, because she's one of the best arguments out there for strict limits on government power.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    She was opposing W and carrying water for his successor. How would any of that add up to someone ripe for The Daily Show ridicule?

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    Come now, Pelosi, show your even-handed bipartisanship by calling for the similar banning of Marxists everywhere -- O, they are your donors? I see, said the blind man as he picked up a hammer and sickle.

  • Tony||

    Keep calling everyone to the left of Joe Lieberman a Marxist. It will do wonders for your point of view.

  • Tony||

    There are plenty of notches between Marx and Trump, a Nazi sympathizer.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

  • ||

    Trump should be a Soviet sympathizer. Those bastards knew how to build walls!

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Chuckles, It's why he secretly loves the Chinese.

  • Scarecrow Repair & Chippering||

    I mean the university professors who proudly call themselves Marxists.

    Do keep up, Dear Tony Lad.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Tony, you should have a hammer and sickle branded on your forehead, so everyone will know what you are.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Tony, you should have a hammer and sickle branded on your forehead, so everyone will know what you are.

  • Tony||

    A wolf in a crowded theater wouldn't exactly be of no concern.

  • Chocolate Starfish ( . )||

    Your point, Man !!

  • Adam330||

    Which is why it would be pretty stupid for the government to ban people from yelling wolf in a crowded theater.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Neither would a fire.

  • loveconstitution1789||

    This is great opportunity for a case to proceed to the Supreme Court, so they can reverse the decision in Sneck v. U.S., 249 U.S. 47 (1919) and get rid of those 1st Amendment exceptions.

  • Brian||

    this is why private property beats public property: even if the government can't shut you up in a private setting, the property owners can kick people out. That, combined with free association, let's like-minded people choose each other and exclude others. Being able to discriminate against racists is a feature, not a bug.

    Now, compare that to public property, which is now a parade ground for assholes with aces to grind, and no one can do anything about it without violating civil rights. What wonderful inclusion and discourse we get in the public square.

  • Tony||

    Public property doesn't discriminate against those unable to afford property in the way that private property does.

  • ||

    What if five homeless guys decide they all want to sleep on the same park bench?

    Non-discriminatroy government solution.

  • ||

    And, in fact, in my search for a sleep-proof park bench, this turned up.

  • Elias Fakaname||

    The smart solution is that each of them learns to occupy a different quantum reality. Devoid of the other four. Then they can each simultaneously sleep on the same bench without conflict.

  • ||

    No one wants to read your gay-porn fan fiction.

  • Tony||

    You say that as if you're all in favor of public housing to prevent such contretemps and eyesores.

    There are no homeless in libertopia because we eat them all!

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""Public property doesn't discriminate against those unable to afford property in the way that private property does""

    The picture of Chris Christie in a chair on the beach comes to mind.

  • techgump||

    Exactly. No different than taxation vs volentaryism.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    It's not a competition, Brian.

  • Rhywun||

    What wonderful inclusion and discourse we get in the public square.

    Damn right it's wonderful.

  • Bob Meyer||

    Private companies can engage in any kind of censorship that they wish, however, they can't break contracts because they find out that someone said something they don't like.

    Google pulled advertising from climatologist Roy Spencer's website and possibly assisted in a denial of service attack on Spencer. Why? Spencer wrote a book criticizing Al Gore's "new" movie. Can you guess who's on the Google board of directors? That's right, the ever wrong Al Gore.

    I have no fear of white supremacists not because I'm white but because they are merely a small number of assholes. Antifa, on the other hand represents a serious danger because they have the explicit backing of the universities, and the implicit backing of the media, the Silicon Valley elite and the New York Financial elite on the most important subject, that of government censorship. If some Aryan moron attacks me I have a Colt 1911 to answer him and the law will back me. How do I answer the state when it says I must be silent?

  • Longtobefree||

    If some Aryan moron attacks me I have a Colt 1911 to answer him and the law will back me.

    I take it you do not live in D.C., or in New Jersey.
    Remember, that is an assault pistol, it loads itself!

  • bevis the lumberjack||

    .

    So Trump is - he really is - a thin skinned incompetent buffoon.

    Aaaaaaand....here's one of the leading spokespersons for your alternative. Someone who would be in power if they took over control of the government. Who doesn't even understand the concept of the "crowded theater" thing, much less that it's a decision that is 100 years old and is a decision that the Supreme Court sprinted away from about as fast as they possibly could. Or maybe she meant "shout fire in a crowded wolf lair". Who the fuck knows?

    Maybe I'm feeling apocalyptic because I'm sitting in the path of Harvey, but I think we're doomed. Is it bad to think that the best thing would be for Kim "Probably Crazier Than Trump But We Can't Be Sure" Jong-un to just let the missiles fly and damn the consequences?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    Is it bad to think that the best thing would be for Kim "Probably Crazier Than Trump But We Can't Be Sure" Jong-un to just let the missiles fly and damn the consequences?

    Yes it is, you bummer, you.

  • C. S. P. Schofield||

    Nancy Pelosi is a privileged twunt, totally devoid of intelligence (other than a species of low cunning), and long past her expire date.

    Pity her constituents are so stupid they keep reelecting her.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Yes, it's funny how people who rail so loudly against the "priviliged 1%" keeping electing one to represent them.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Aren't her constituents the 1%?

  • ||

    Yes. But what EES said is still true.

  • Rhywun||

    She represents most of SF. Of course not all of them are "the 1%".

  • ||

    There's also the homeless people.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    Do they vote? And how often?

  • Rhywun||

    They vote with their feet.

  • ||

    We know how they would vote, so we simply fill out their ballets for them.

  • Longtobefree||

    Of course, and they vote very often, often the same day.

  • Bob Meyer||

    She is the biggest fundraiser in Democrat party history. That money doesn't come from food stamp recipients.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Yeah, It's like complaining about white privilege and voting for Hillary.

  • ||

    She was the first Black First Lady!

  • ||

    What did she play, the triangle?

  • ||

    Hey - the triangle is just as important as every other instrument.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    That's right. No percussion shaming on this thread.

  • Bob Meyer||

    Black-hearted maybe. No, Eleanor Roosevelt was worse.

  • Calidissident||

    So the question is - is Pelosi just pandering, or is her understanding of the law really this bad? I might be inclined to generously assume the former, but the fact that she mixed up "the boy who cried wolf" and "shout fire in a crowded theater" lends credence to the latter.

  • Citizen X - #6||

    It can be, and is, both.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    She definitely has the politicians A.B.P. system down (Always Be Pandering). But there's lots of evidence she really doesn't understand the law.

  • Unlabelable MJGreen||

    Legislators generally have a bad understanding of the law, so I also say both.

  • ||

    I also say both, but because the one pretty much excludes the other - she panders by instinct, and thus she has no interest in/use for the law.

  • Kay Faibe||

    Nancy Pelosi is a mental retard. It really bothers me that Sarah Palin was routinely criticized for being an idiot and this woman never gets an honorable mention. She makes Palin look like a brain surgeon. The woman is an absolute embarrassment to females everywhere. She doesn't know the law, she'd have to have someone draw pictures for her to explain it. Wolf, fire, confederate statues, whatevs.

  • BYODB||


    The NPS issued the permit to the Patriot Prayer group, but only after organizers agreed to ban guns and tiki torches from the rally


    What the actual fuck? Guns and Tiki Torches? What the fuck have I missed here? So are normal torches allowed?

  • Calidissident||

    The Charlottesville Nazis were carrying tiki torches. But I get your point, I don't know why tiki torches specifically would be banned and not torches generally. Maybe they are and it's just a reporting issue somewhere along the line?

  • ||

    I think you're right - I want to say I heard elsewhere it was a ban on open flames generally, but I may be wrong.

  • BYODB||

    Next thing you know, they'll be banning pitchforks along with those torches.

  • Zeb||

    A general ban on open flames would probably be reasonable and pretty well take care of whatever they are trying to stop by banning tiki torches.

  • Rhywun||

    All the media seem to be lying about the nature of the group itself; it's hardly surprising they'd get every other detail wrong.

  • Eek Barba Durkle||

    I don't know why tiki torches specifically would be banned and not torches generally

    Nazis literally carried tiki torches. Literally. I'm not being metaphorical. Literal Nazis literally carried literal tiki torches, in a literal manner.

    But your refusal to disavow racism is duly noted.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Those were *Democratic* Nazis.

  • Johnny B||

    It is worse than you think. They come in "gun metal finish":

    https://www.walmart.com/c/ep/tiki-torches

  • Elias Fakaname||

    If they're doing this outdoors, it's been pretty dry in the western US. I would not advise a lot of open flames for the time being. It would not take much to set off a wildfire.

  • Cy||

    I'm going to find it ironic if they show up with a burning cross.

  • BYODB||

    "Just one torch, large sized. What, you said tiki torches and this is clearly Roman".

  • Jima||

    Isn't banning Tiki Torches somehow racist against Tahitians or some other south Pacific islander types?? Hmmm?

  • ||

    Stopping white supremacists from cultural appropriation, oh, the irony!

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Fuckin nazis. Now I can't put out my happy hour tiki torches next to my double-wide without the lesbo-couple neighbors getting all in my face.

  • Marcus Aurelius||

    Lipstick or Butch?

  • Elias Fakaname||

    Come on, you k ow it's going to be double butch. It's almost never the other way.

  • Bob Meyer||

    They want guns banned so that the Patriot Prayer group will be defenseless and the much larger gang of AntiFAs will be able to slaughter with impunity.

  • Bob Meyer||

    They want guns banned so that the Patriot Prayer group will be defenseless and the much larger gang of AntiFAs will be able to slaughter with impunity.

  • Longtobefree||

    Nope. Only burning crosses, I guess.

  • Diane Reynolds (Paul.)||

    That ruling, including the "falsely shouting fire in a crowded theater" bit, is bad law. It's been almost universally recognized as such

    By 'almost universally recognized', I take that Democrats would be in that small exclusion group.

  • NewWorldDan||

    What truly angers me about the loony left is it puts me in the unfortunate position of defending the rights of the alt-right instead of just ignoring them.

  • Cy||

    Defending the Constitution ≠ liking Trump ≠ liking Nazi ≠ liking Antifa ≠ liking the KKK

    Someone please get this to the main stream media STAT!

  • Unicorn Abattoir||

    CNN newsfeed: "Reason.com commenters say that defending the constitution = supporting child molestation"

  • ||

    Make no mistake that this is by design. The whole point of our "new discussions about race" and our new concerns for the trans-gender is 100% about making the left's political opposition defend bigots so that they can be called bigots themselves.

  • Rhywun||

    It's far worse than that. The left is making it so that defending anyone with middle-of-the-road values is now racist and bigoted.

  • Cy||

    "Racist" has lost it's power for the left. They're moving on to "KKK" and "Nazi." This is one aspect I'm not liking about getting older. Watching the next couple of generations fall for this shit is getting old.

    Can't anyone be bothered to pick up a history book anymore? Maybe just go out side and take a deep breath. Go talk to your friends and family and community. The world, contrary to the mainstream media's portrayal, is not ablaze with prejudice and victimhood.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""The world, contrary to the mainstream media's portrayal, is not ablaze with prejudice and victimhood.""

    I think this goes to a thread from yesterday. Intentions, what you mean vs what they want it to mean. It's ablaze because that what they want to believe, regardless of the reality.

  • ||

    The fire is everywhere just over the horizon.

  • Longtobefree||

    Is that the fire with all the history books in it?

  • DesigNate||

    You could always just not defend them. Nazi.

    /Tony

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    How crowded is crowded?

    Can I scream fire if there are only 12 people in the theater?

    I've never had a problem with someone screaming fire in a theater. I have a problem with morons that will not look around first, and trample you for no other reason than another moron said something.

  • DesigNate||

    Nope, you're not responsible for your actions if someone causes you to panic. That's their fault.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    So if Russia's actions freak Trump out and he panics and launches missiles. Trump has no fault?

  • DesigNate||

    No no no. See Trump is an idiot and a horrible racist Neo-Nazi so he bears all the fault.

    (probably should have included /s on that first post)

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Ah!

  • Elias Fakaname||

    No. The ticket you bought from the theater company is a contract for them to provide the showing of the film the ticket was purchased for, and you to behave in a quiet fashion so as not to bother the other ticket purchasers. Yelling for repeatedly without and actual fire being present would be a breach of that service contract and they would be within their rights to eject you on that basis.

  • damikesc||

    It's true that the alt-right group gathering in San Francisco is likely to espouse some hateful, noxious speech. When they do, they should be criticized and condemned for it, as their friends in Charlottesville were. But even if you assume they're up to no good, it's pretty clear that their asking for a permit does not rise to the level of "imminent lawless action." The National Park Service was right to award the permit. Doing otherwise would have been a violation of the First Amendment, wolves and fires notwithstanding.

    The group in SF doesn't even make SPLC list of "hate groups", which only requires "is not progressive" to make the list. So, it seems awfully tame. But this is being done to protect antifa who will, as usual, try and shut it down violently and the press will demand Trump denounce Nazis or something.

  • Rhywun||

    Speaking of Nazis...

  • Earth Skeptic||

    Grammar nazi?
    Femi-nazi?
    Soup nazi?

  • Jerryskids||

    They will try to shut it down and they will succeed in shutting it down. They will try and shut it down.

    Try to shut it down suggests there's some question as to whether or not they will be successful in the attempt.

    Irregardless, I could care less about the issue.

  • lafe.long||

    godammit Jerry, I always enjoy your posts.

    Well done.

  • Microaggressor||

    According to you, smashing cars with baseball bats (with driver inside) doesn't qualify as violence.
    But no, please, continue denying reality. It makes your look smart.

  • ||

    "Counterprotestes have NO RIGHT to peacefull assemble!"

    So full of righteous indignation that you have lost both perspective and the ability to spell.

    They absolutely have a right to PEACEFUL assembly, but the counter-protesters in Charlottesville were not engaged in peaceful assembly. The protesters had already gone to the courts to seek redress and their permit was granted by court order. Since the protesters were clearly acting under the auspices of a court with jurisdiction, the police had a duty to remove the people impeding the protesters.

    When the police abrogated that duty through inaction, the protesters asserted their rights by pushing their way through. The police, by their continued inaction at this point, would seem to agree this was a legal use of force. Considering the protesters were told time and again that they would be blockaded despite the lawful nature of their activities, bringing shields and clubs seems like a prudent decision.

    Once the violence broke out, the government actor who opposed the protesters throughout the process declared a state of emergency and shut down the protest. The police finally stepped in and the counter-protesters got exactly what they wanted: the protesters dispersed by the force of the state, editable footage showing aggressive protesters pushing non-aggressive counter-protesters, and to mace, punch, beat, and throw human waste at people they disagree with.

    The people in the blockade were not innocent in the violence.

  • ||

    "Counterprotestes have NO RIGHT to peacefull assemble!"

    Full disclosure: I believe my vasectomy puts soundly in the counter-pro-testes camp.

  • ||

    The standard for fundamental right to free expression should be pretty fucking high considering the same people who wrote the Constitution openly incited armed rebellion against their sovereign nation.

    How about using the Declaration of Independence as a precedent? Without it, the SCOTUS would not exist.

  • damikesc||

    Antifa initiated the violence in Charlottesville.

    *anxiously awaits the same videos posted repeatedly in the past*

  • Procyon Rotor||

    All rights are absolute. If a right appears to be other than absolute, it is other than a right. Rights are never in conflict. If two rights appear to be in conflict, at least one of them is not a right.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    If Trump said this, it would be all over the news and social media as an example of how stupid he is. But they will totally ignore it because it makes their team look bad.

    In partisan politics, no principle goes unmolested.

  • damikesc||

    And the "conflicting rights" here are...what?

  • bevis the lumberjack||

    The right of people he disagrees with to breathe conflicting with his right to feel smugly superior. That's what I got out of it.

  • ||

    "public safety is sufficient reason to restrict speech and/or assembly"

    Public safety be damned!

    We have seen it at least twice now that I am aware of, at the Portland Rose Parade and Charlottesville: lawful assembly denied or curtailed because a 3rd party threatened violence or engaged unlawfully with the lawfully assembled and where the denial or curtailing was implemented by government actors sympathetic to that same 3rd party.

    Silencing anyone or allowing them to be silenced by threat of violence or incarceration is tyranny. The City of Portland and VA governor were complicit. The VSP were complicit. If the current SCOTUS can't reconcile speech and safety in a way that prevents tyranny, then they have failed and need to be replaced.

    Individuals have a lot better chance against rioters than they do against the police.

  • ||

    It sure does. That MLK and everyone around him was in danger of imminent harm is evidenced by his and many other public assassinations. If this tactic had been effective in the 60's, MLK would never have been allowed to speak in public. Freedom of expression trumps public safety regardless of the stupidity of that expression.

    It is not lost on me that AntiFA, espousing the vast majority opinion of anti-racism is so vehement in silence a very small and politically powerless minority. Sounds like revenge more than social justice.

  • Hank Phillips||

    Not to put Michael on the spot, but I've read laws defining "menacing" and, though I'd have written them less... menacingly, there really is such a thing. Even the Constitution refers to such imminent danger as not to admit of delay...

  • damikesc||

    When Free Speech and Public Safety are in conflict, (or the right to peaceably assemble vs safety) public safety is sufficient reason to restrict speech and/or assembly. That's what decision really established/

    But there is, literally, zero evidence of a risk for public safety. Unless you wish to stop ALL protests on the chance that a mob will attack the protestors, which seems like a pretty terrible reason to violate rights.

    Using this logic, antifa should be forbidden from appearing in public, given their long list of violence at pretty much every event they are involved in.

  • ||

    It is completely lost on this fucktard that if the counter-protesters had simply ignored the protest, like 99.9% of the nation was busily doing that there would have been no violence. No violence, no death, no publicity for the vile rhetoric of the protesters.

    I heard what the AntiFA goons were saying, which was "Get out, we don't want you here." As if standing in front of a confederate statue is not exactly where the racist dipshits belong, waving their stupid flags so that we know exactly who it is we should ignore.

    I will now take my own advice and completely ignore this fucktard.

  • seahorsedan||

    James Madison worried about what he called "factions," which he defined as groups of citizens who have a common interest in some proposal that would either violate the rights of other citizens or would harm the nation as a whole. Madison's fear – which Alexis de Tocqueville later dubbed "the tyranny of the majority" – was that a faction could grow to encompass more than 50 percent of the population, at which point it could "sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens." ANTIFA seeks power and prestige not through speech but through intimidation, fire, pillage and plunder . The abiding purpose of ANTIFA and MSMs Madison Avenue spin to sellout our bill of rights and provide corporate protectionism at the expense of democracy and the environment is to secure power to erode U.S. sovereignty. Seldom before in our nation's history has the globalist-run fake news media been so determined to undermine America and everything it stands for. Beware the 5th column.

  • Microaggressor||

    The right to free speech vs the right to shut people up for saying things that are imagined to incite violence, even if they really don't.

    Negative rights don't conflict. Only positive rights infringe on negative rights. This implies that Hihn believe in positive rights. And fancies himself a libertarian. Luckily, he's not fooling anybody.

  • Microaggressor||

    Speech and assembly are not clear and present dangers. They can only be justifiably shut down if they actually start causing violence, e.g. a riot. Preemptively shutting them down opens an avenue for censorship by declaring something a clear and present danger when it is not, which is what's happening now.

    I don't expect you to understand this, but it might be informative to others.

  • Bartleby||

    "Any questions?"

    Sure. You write:

    "There is no right to cause violence."

    Where exactly is it stated in the NPS application, or in the Charlottesville application, that the organizers intend/intended to "cause violence"?

    The doctrine of preemption you seem so fond of is nothing but thinly veiled prior restraint on speech, justified in the eyes of the MSM by threats of violence made by people who oppose the right to speak for people they don't agree with. It happened twice in Berkley just last year when UC Reagents refused to allow conservative speakers access to a publicly owned lecture hall after credible threats of violence were made by "antifa".

    You support this behavior and the doctrine, which suggests you have an extremely limited understanding of constitutional law and an authoritarian bias consistent with the Progressive party in the US.

  • DGB||

    What Pelosi is attempting is as disgusting as Cheney's Patriot Act and "free speech" zones. And I've no time for anyone who defends one and attacks the other, or the other way round.

  • DesigNate||

    The rights of his Antifa friends to bust some heads open and dox people that weren't even there.

  • Eek Barba Durkle||

    I wondered if the doxxing was going to be about the professor from the University of Arkansas - another dude who looks a little like him had his picture taken holding a torch, so OF COURSE the next 24 hours in Arkansas was ALL about ending that dude's career, and searching high and low for any fact that could be used to destroy his name.

  • Eek Barba Durkle||

    Oh shit, nevermind - should have read the whole article before commenting. Read the first few lines, and thought it was about a woman.

  • seahorsedan||

    ANTIFA seeks power and prestige not through speech but through intimidation, fire, pillage and plunder.
    Justice Frankfurter had similar views in 1951: "The historic antecedents of the First Amendment preclude the notion that its purpose was to give unqualified immunity to every expression that touched on matters within the range of political interest… 'The law is perfectly well settled"
    It is abundantly clear to me the Mayors of Berkley, Portland, Charlottesville, Phoenix and San Francisco have the legal authority and a moral obligation to apply the use of force to prevent ANIFAs counter protests inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action. (343) And in 1969, the Court said that the cases "have fashioned the principle that the constitutional guarantees of free speech and free press do ... permit a State to proscribe the use of force ... where advocacy is directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action and is likely to incite or produce such action."(344)
    It appears to me the Mayors that permit such advocacy directed to inciting or producing imminent lawless action are unconscionable incompetents and should be recalled forth with. Public safety must be their first priority. By the end of the 2016 election campaign mayors should have had this figured out.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    ""Clear and present dangers -- threats and/or risks to public safety -- are NOT imaginary? For which the crowded theater is merely a metaphor."'

    Clear and present dangers are not imaginary. Threats and risks to public safety can be imaginary. Cops us the latter to shoot people when their is no clear and present danger frequently, and without punishment.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    Point being, threats and risks to public safety can indeed be imaginary, and overblown beyond reason.

  • Microaggressor||

    And if this censorship is allowed, it can and will be exploited by deliberately overblowing the threats to safety. Suddenly your speech isn't so free anymore because a Maoist mob has declared it unsafe, without actually going through the effort of listening to the message.

    Free speech can't be "balanced" in this matter. You either have it, or the mob has the right to censor you on fabricated grounds.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    For authority, that's a feature, not a bug.

  • ||

    "For authority, that's a feature, not a bug."

    ^ Best response in the whole thread

  • Rhywun||

    by deliberately overblowing the threats to safety

    Such as by repeatedly calling a group "alt-right" when it clearly isn't.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    If I say fire in a theater, and it is not true, the threat is imaginary. Therefore not a threat, therefore the restriction of speech would not apply.

  • Cy||

    I hope that one day, in the near future, you take your meds.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    I dare say that in the fire and theater example. The moron running over me due to a knee jerk reaction from hearing a single word is a greater threat.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    I don't.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    To use your fist and face example. Anything I say is merely a swing of the fist that stops at your nose. The flying fist could be considered a threat in itself. But it stops and no actual harm is done.

    But since a swinging fist could be conceived by someone else as a threat, perhaps you are arguing against your own philosophy, and merely swinging the fist is off limits.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Discussing Schenk is interesting but it was superseded by Brandenburg.

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    Well at least you're on the right ruling now. I trust we need not talk any more about "clear and present danger". And Boehm did point to Brandenburg, although it should be obvious that the point of the article is to criticize those who insist on using the quote from Schenk as Pelosi was clearly doing.

    You have yet to show how those applying for the permit are going to incite or produce imminent lawless action. Note that Brandenburg was at least arrested for a speech he had already made; the group seeking the permit has not since the event is in the future.

  • ||

    Can I yell "moron" in a crowded House?

  • Rhywun||

    Depends which team you're on.

  • lafe.long||

    Don't dream it's over

  • Rhywun||

    Ugh I can't believe I missed that

  • Deep Lurker||

    "Shout 'fire!' in a crowded theater" deserves the same (lack of) respect as "Separate but equal" and "Three generations of imbeciles are enough."

  • jack sprat||

    You're going to have to pass that permit to see what's in that permit......

  • wef||

    I often go to the theatre and shout, "It is better for all the world, if instead of waiting to execute degenerate offspring for crime, or to let them starve for their imbecility, society can prevent those who are manifestly unfit from continuing their kind."

  • John C. Randolph||

    Oath of office? What's that?

    -jcr

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    A meaningless gathering where you repeat something the other person says.

  • ||

    Christ, how the fuck does Onion stay in business?

  • Citizen X - #6||

    I feel bad for the Onion. They've been getting scooped relentlessly by reality for a couple of years now.

  • Bob Meyer||

    "scooped relentlessly by reality" -- Brilliant.

  • Bob Meyer||

    Pelosi wants the "Heckler's Veto" put into law to protect hecklers. This amounts to "If you say that I'll go crazy and try to kill you so to avoid violence you must be silenced".

  • Hank Phillips||

    Seems to me Pelosi's rhetoric would encourage pussy-grabbing Trump supporters to flock to crowded theaters.

  • DGB||

    Voltaire > Holmes.

  • Bartleby||

    Nancy is well past her "use by" date.

  • Azathoth!!||

    It would appear that Pelosi is confused about the distinction between the infamous cliché "shouting fire in a crowded theater," a line from Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes in the 1919 Supreme Court case Schenck v. United States, and the clichéd parable of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," which warns about not overreacting to imaginary threats.

    The Boy Who Cried Wolf is not about overreacting to imaginary threats. It's about the dangers of lying and how, if you lie, people are reluctant to believe you when you need them to

  • sasob||

    ^this^

  • SinglePlayerWealthCare||

    Eric Boehm needs to do his homework before slapping labels on organizations, which he totally failed to do before writing his piece above. Let me help you out, Eric...

    Good article on the Patriot Prayer group, which is *not* 'alt-right'.
    --

    Who's behind this weekend's right-wing rally at Crissy Field?

    http://www.mercurynews.com/201.....ssy-field/

  • halraiser||

    Good column except the part about the free speech protestors being alt-right and racist. Please research such groups before writing such things. Even the Southern Poverty Law Center does not list them as a hate group.

    One possible source of confusion is that bigots on both sides do like to infiltrate their events and cause trouble. In a free country it is difficult to keep them away but they try.

  • AD-RtR/OS!||

    NS,S! Brain-dead by reason of Botox!

  • Africanis||

    I cried wolf in a crowded theater several times and was asked by an usher to stop or I would be asked to leave. It was not the reaction I was looking for and the guy a seat over told me to stop hitting on his date. Nancy Pelosi was right crying wolf in a crowded theater is bad news.

  • jerryg1018||

    "Nancy Pelosi doesn't understand free speech."
    You better believe Pelosi understands Free Speech, that's why she wants the power to censor it. Free Speech was very important to the Founding Fathers mainly because it was a crime to criticize King George and the English Parliament. The recognized the right of the people to criticize the government, their leaders and anyone else they disagreed with. Free Speech is a two way street, people have the right to voice their opinions, others have the right not to listen. Those advocating censorship are not content with not listening themselves, they don't want anyone else to listen either.
    What Pelosi and her ilk consider inflammatory speech are ideas and positions that conflict with theirs. In their view there can only be one opinion, theirs. So don't be fooled, Pelosi understands the danger to her agenda that Free Speech represents.

  • Sanjuro Tsubaki||

    Nancy, the batty, high maintenance, old bag, is one of a handful of high-profile deplorables that keeps GOP voters motivated, keeps the GOP in power and incapable of reforming. But then if Pelosi was to hold onto the leadership in another Democrat sweep, the only poliitcal coalition that would be forseeably capable of cleaning up their mess afterwards would be lead by a conservative Republican, not Gary Johnson.

  • Bruce 6225||

    Of course Nancy understands free speech. It is her enemy and she has studied how to kill it because (as noted by Ayn) "Thinking men cannot be ruled." (hence the NEA).

  • Cardiologist||

    Somehow nobody seems to realize that SCOTUS subsequently repudiated 'Schenck'. Fewer yet realize the facts of the case, which are as follows. A group of pacifists were handing out anti way leaflets to the people waiting in line at a recruiting kiosk in the Pacific Northwest. They were arrested for sedition. The text of the offending leaflet was the usual, 'don't sacrifice your life for war profiteers', and "Rich man's war, poor man's fight." This is exactly the kind of speech most protected by the first amendment. Holmes himself personally repudiated that statement. Controlling precedent NOW is'Tinker'. Btw, Holmes was hardly a legal giant. His basic philosophy was that morality had no place in the law, and that the job of the judiciary was to provide intellectual cover for whatever harebrained policy the legislature would come up with. It was Holmes who justified the mass sterilization of people with mental issues in"Buck"in which he asserted, "three generations of imbeciles are enough!", A point not lost on the Nazis, who explicitly quoted Holmes as justification for their mass extermination of the mentally ill and physically disabled

  • Laird||

    Pelosi is growing increasingly bizarre and incoherent. I think she is suffering from senile dementia. Seriously. Something is clearly wrong with her; she needs medical attention.

  • seahorsedan||

    James Madison worried about what he called "factions," which he defined as groups of citizens who have a common interest in some proposal that would either violate the rights of other citizens or would harm the nation as a whole. Madison's fear – which Alexis de Tocqueville later dubbed "the tyranny of the majority" – was that a faction could grow to encompass more than 50 percent of the population, at which point it could "sacrifice to its ruling passion or interest both the public good and the rights of other citizens." Madison has a solution for tyranny of the majority: "A republic, by which I mean a government in which the scheme of representation takes place, opens a different prospect, and promises the cure for which we are seeking." ANTIFA seeks power and prestige through intimidation, fire, pillage and plunder . The abiding purpose of ANTIFA is to secure more power to erode U.S. sovereignty. It is an odd sensation to live through one of these episodes, especially one as big as to question our Bill of Rights. But its place atop a long line of precedents can no longer be disputed. Keep it civil. Beware the 5th column. Don't be a pigeon. I recommend a fresh read of Orwell's 1984. Keep it civil.

  • mondo_cane||

    Although it's been explained to me, it still makes no sense with the various groups whether named by the msm or groups naming themselves.

    What in the world does "Alt right" mean? Is there an Alt left?

    Alt could mean alternative. I have an Alt key on my computer keyboard. Or it could mean one who alternates between the right and something else.

    This crap with the names meant to discredit or to shock seems so juvenile -- very immature and child-like. It is so tiring to have to deal with children among all the other serious things we have to consider.

  • R. S. Ewell||

    Like any good liberal--excuse me, "progressive"--Pelosi is for censorship and segregation, and against constitutional restraints. Don't want to burst the Corporate/degenerate bubble, do we? No need for progressives to know there are people out there who pray, vote conservative, and enjoy bass fishing. Of course, they'll find out at the mid-term election, but why upset the Lefties needlessly now? Leading The Latte-Swilling Resistance gives them more than enough to think about, doesn't it?

  • keddaw||

    Every theatre I have been in has well lit and spacious exits. Shouting "fire" would therefore be exceedingly unlikely to cause panic much less harm. If a theatre cannot safely evacuate its patrons then surely they have the issue, especially in these days of over-regulation. That's not to say the person shouting shouldn't be ejected and possibly banned, or even sued for loss by patrons who miss the show/film. But I'm pretty sure it isn't, and shouldn't be, illegal.

  • Plain Dark Sedan||

    Clearly, this is a site for your average rwnj. Because it is obvious that Donald Tramp does not understand the meaning of free speech (of course, your kind does not care); and the parable about the boy crying wolf absolutely does not mean what you say it does.

    In no way does the parable refer to overreacting to anything. It refers to sounding a false alarm. You know, like Donald Tramp wetting his pants and crying about "fake news" all the time.

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online