Ted Wheeler, mayor of Portland, Oregon, has joined a growing list of liberals curtailing free speech and seeking exceptions for speech that they deem to be hateful or offensive. We saw recently Howard Dean espousing the false premise that there is a hate speech exception to the First Amendment. We also saw politicians in California seeking to curtail anything that they deem to be “fake news.” Now Wheeler is espousing the same anti-speech nonsense in seeking to ban a conservative demonstration by a group called Patriot Prayer.
I have no idea what the Patriot Prayer group is but I truly do not care. It is a citizen group seeking to hold a public event.
Wheeler wants the event canceled due to the double murder committed by white supremacist Jeremy Christian. He asked the federal government to revoke the permit of the group based on what he said was the expected hateful content of their speech. In doing so, Wheeler combines an unconstitutional denial of speech based on content with an unconstitutional act of prior restraint.
When confronted by his breathtaking lack of knowledge of (or respect for) the first amendment, Wheeler insisted that the group could be denied a permit based on his view anything that they said would be hateful.
Organizer Joey Gibson denied any connection to Christian and said that the group previously expelled him.
Once again, the content of the speech is less important than their right to speak. Wheeler is advocating the type of speech regulation that has destroyed free speech in Europe. His views on free speech are far more threatening than anything that this small group might say. Indeed, it is discomforting that a major city would be headed by someone with this type of dismissive attitude toward the core defining right of free speech in the United States.