An entire country mourned the death of Heather Heyer, a paralegal, who went to Charlottesville to protest the hateful march of neo-Nazis and clansmen — only to be murdered when James A. Fields, 20, allegedly rammed his car into protesters. Now the organizer of the racist march has sent out a tweet calling her a “fat, disgusting Communist” — a tweet he later blamed on being drugged out of his gourd. Jason Kessler explained that he has been doing some heavy drugs and drinking lately.
I have been writing for years about the rising wave of intolerance for free speech that has swept over Europe and is now reaching our own shores in the United States. Attacks on free speech are increasing from the left which has cracked down on speech deemed offensive or intimidating to any group. Thus far, the United States has been a bulwark against this trend, but an editorial in the New York Times this week is a chilling example of how voices against free speech are now becoming mainstream. The editorial was written by K-Sue Park is a housing attorney and the Critical Race Studies fellow at the U.C.L.A. School of Law. Park criticizes the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) for what she views as blind fealty to free speech and suggests that it is time to stop defending Nazis because sometimes standing on the wrong side of history in defense of a cause you think is right is still just standing on the wrong side of history. Of course, many of us believe that the wrong side of history is the side where free speech depends on what you want to say — and whether people like Park agree with it.