Sunday, February 25, 2018
Editorials

Free speech vs. decency in Portland

“Our city is in mourning, our community's anger is real, and the timing and subject of these events can only exacerbate an already difficult situation."So said Portland, Oregon, Mayor Ted Wheeler in explaining why - in the aftermath of the deaths of two good Samaritans - controversial rallies planned for this month shouldn't be held. Wheeler's concern for the raw feelings of his community is understandable, but he is completely off-base in trying to block the planned rallies and dangerously wrong in his reading of the U.S. Constitution.

Wheeler unsuccessfully appealed to federal officials to revoke a permit granted to a group to hold a pro-Trump, free-speech rally Sunday at a downtown federal government plaza. His request that a permit not be granted for a June 10 anti-Muslim rally was made moot when organizers opted Wednesday to cancel the rally and encourage participants to attend a similar event in Seattle instead. The mayor characterized the rallies as "alt-right" and said "hate speech is not protected by the First Amendment."

Actually, as was pointed out by legal scholars and free-speech advocates, Wheeler is wrong about how constitutional protections of free speech have been interpreted by the courts. Speech, no matter how vile or distaseful, is protected in the United States. It can be banned only if it meets the legal threshold of threat or harassment.

It would have been far better for Wheeler to have followed the advice of the Oregon ACLU and reached out to rally organizers to explain why it might be in the community's best interest to postpone the events. Not only are public passions still aroused about the deaths of two men who tried to protect two young women from anti-Muslim insults, but Portland has become the scene of rising tensions and clashes between extremists from both ends of the political spectrum.

Perhaps it is naive to think that organizers of Sunday's rally might have actually listened to the mayor and allowed Portland to mourn the loss of those two fine men without further upset. Sadly, though, decency these days seems to be in short supply in America's political debate. The most recent example was the stunt by comedian Kathy Griffin, who evidently thought it was humorous to portray the beheading of an American president. It was somewhat comforting that Griffin was widely condemned (including by some of the most ardent critics of President Donald Trump) and that she responded with an abject apology. If only the provocateurs in Portland could be so moved.

Comments
Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Editorial: Improve school security plans with gun controls

Gov. Rick Scott and key members of the Florida Legislature offered ambitious proposals Friday that would plug some holes in the state’s safety net, strengthen school security and spend up to a half-billion dollars in response to last week’s massacre ...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Editorial: Six proposals for reasonable gun control

Enough is enough. The mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School has renewed conversations about gun control in Washington and Tallahassee. Young people are demanding action, and there are cracks in the National Rifle Association’s solid w...
Published: 02/23/18
Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

Editorial: The time to act on guns is now

The nation’s conversation on guns took an encouraging step this week in three essential places — South Florida, Tallahassee and Washington — as survivors, victims’ families and elected leaders searched painfully and sincerely for common ground after ...
Published: 02/22/18

Editorial: FDLE probe of state fair fiasco falls short

It should go without saying that Florida law frowns upon public officials who take freebies from vendors and whose agency throws business to their family. But that wasn’t enough to move the Florida Department of Law Enforcement to find that the ex-di...
Published: 02/21/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: They value guns, not kids

Editorial: They value guns, not kids

They value guns over kidsSix days after 17 were killed at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High by a teen-ager firing an AR-15 semi-automatic rifle, the Florida House refused to even debate a bill banning the sale of assault weapons. The vote, 71 to 36, wasn...
Published: 02/21/18

Editorial: Nursing home rule should be stronger

It shouldn’t take months or another tragedy for Florida — which is hot and full of seniors — to protect its elderly population from heat stroke in the event of an emergency. That’s why Gov. Rick Scott had the right idea last year in calling for nursi...
Published: 02/20/18
Updated: 02/23/18
Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Editorial: Listen to Marjory Stoneman Douglas students demanding change

Students from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School are traveling to the state capital today and declaring "never again.’’ A prominent Florida Republican fundraiser vows he won’t raise another nickel until his party approves new gun controls. Across F...
Published: 02/19/18

Editorial: No more doubt about Russian meddling in election

The latest indictment by the Justice Department special counsel, Robert Mueller, refutes President Donald Trump’s claims that Russian interference in the 2016 election was a Democratic hoax. The indictment details the lengths Russian conspirators too...
Published: 02/19/18

Another voice: Tips should belong to workers, not their bosses

The Trump administration is under fire for proposing a Labor Department regulation that could result in hotel and restaurant employers dipping into the tips customers leave for their employees, depriving the nation’s 14 million hard-working restauran...
Published: 02/18/18
Updated: 02/20/18
Editorial: Trump’s rising deficits and misplaced priorities

Editorial: Trump’s rising deficits and misplaced priorities

It’s not popular in Washington or virtually anywhere else these days to express concern about the rising federal deficit. Congressional Republicans who used to be deficit hawks first voted to cut taxes by $1.5 trillion over the next decade, then rais...
Published: 02/17/18