Before we get to the grim punchline mentioned in the headline, here's the backstory: A deranged person murdered two men and critically injured another in Portland, Oregon on Friday night after they intervened to stop his ugly harassment two young Muslim women on a train. The heinous killings were immediately condemned, and the Good Samaritans' courage rightly hailed as an example of American greatness. Elements of the Left then quickly got to work linking the bloodshed to Donald Trump and political rhetoric they oppose, a classic and insidious End of Discussion tactic designed to toxify and stifle speech. The city's mayor made this intention explicit, invoking the deadly incident while urging the federal government to shut down a pro-Trump free speech event scheduled for next week:
The mayor of Portland, Oregon, on Monday urged U.S. officials and organizers to cancel a “Trump Free Speech Rally” and other similar events, saying they are inappropriate and could be dangerous after two men were stabbed to death on a train as they tried to help a pair of young women targeted by an anti-Muslim tirade. Mayor Ted Wheeler said he hopes the victims will inspire “changes in the political dialogue in this country.” It comes amid a wider debate in the U.S. about the First Amendment, often in liberal cities like Portland and Berkeley, California, and on college campuses, where violent protests between far-right and far-left protesters have derailed appearances by contentious figures.
(1) The Associated Press' false equivalency in that last bolded passage is maddening, even to those of us who are often disgusted by the so-called "Alt-Right." It's the hard Left that has been entirely responsible for derailing appearances by controversial speakers, not "violent protests between" the groups. The far-right has on occasion fought back against the Left's intimidation army of thugs and goons, but this is a fight that the Left has picked, over and over again. Culpability is not equally shared here.
(2) Even if the Portland killer had been wearing a 'Make America Great Again' hat as he railed against Muslims and stabbed two men to death, his despicable crimes would not be a legitimate reason to infringe on other people's rights. This man alone is responsible for his violence, not the words of others -- even if those words could reasonably be categorized as "hate speech" (direct incitement, a much higher bar, is where speech can cross into unprotected territory). How would liberals respond if a Republican politician tried to shut down a Black Lives Matter rally because someone tangentially tied to that movement had recently murdered a police officer? "Shut up for safety" is rarely a compelling argument.
(3) Despite many on the Left rushing to implicitly and explicitly attribute the stabbings to Trump and the "atmosphere" he's created, it turned out that the arrested suspect supported Bernie Sanders for president, having praised the even farther-left Jill Stein in social media posts that point to his environmentalism. He stated publicly that he could not bring himself to vote for Trump, and has also gone on wild rants against Christians and Jews. In short, he's one of "theirs," if we're playing by these demagogic score-keeping rules. Should some upcoming Bernie Sanders speeches be censored or postponed in order to keep his backers from killing people? After all, promoting the Vermont Senator's opinions might be "inappropriate or dangerous," under Mayor Wheeler's standards. Right?
(4) Time and again, instances of "right-wing violence" cited as a pretext for partisan bullying end up not being right-wing at all. Click through for a partial list of this phenomenon. One memorable lowlight was liberals trying to pin the 2011 shooting of Arizona Rep. Giffords on conservative rhetoric and Sarah Palin, when in fact that massacre was carried out by an apolitical (or arguably left-wing) schizophrenic. Another example featured a cretin who shot three young Muslims to death in North Carolina in 2015, brutal killings that were quickly hung around the necks of conservatives -- until, that is, the gunman turned out to be an avowed atheist and devotee of Rachel Maddow and the Southern Poverty Law Center. That capital-N Narrative dried up very quickly. And now we have this Portland misfire. Is the plan to just spray these slanders in hopes that one or two will eventually fit the pre-determined storyline?
It's horrible and cheap to draw tendentious ties between your political opponents' words, and the actions of unstable criminals. The point of this "climate of hate" guilt-by-association is to delegitimize the other 'team's' views and players without bothering with actual arguments. It's much easier and lazier to say, see? These people are dangerous! This sort of reflexive demonization is repugnant, especially when it's overly employed to justify curbing fundamental rights. It looks even worse when you prematurely tar the other side for an atrocity actually committed by one of your own. How embarrassing. I'll leave you with this:
I'll take "self-defeating tweetstorms" for $800, Alex. pic.twitter.com/JZTCvklJ0o— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) May 30, 2017
I wonder how much more "free" this man would feel as he was sentenced by a hypothetical Trump-appointed commissar for his "hate propaganda" against the president?