+
Most Shared

Portland's mayor took a stand against hate, but the ACLU is pushing back. Here's why.

You can't overcome hate with censorship, but that doesn't mean it has to win.

On May 26, 35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian allegedly stabbed three men on board a Portland light-rail train after they attempted to intervene on behalf of a Muslim woman who Christian was verbally harassing.

Two of those men, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Ricky Best, died while a third, Micah Fletcher, survived.


Photos of Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche and Ricky Best in a memorial set up in Portland. Photo by Alex Milan Tracy/AP Images.

Three days after the incident, Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler weighed in with an important message for his city.

In the message, posted to his Facebook page, Wheeler calls on the federal government to revoke the permit granted to an "alt-right" group hosting an event in Portland's Shrunk Plaza in June.

He also appeals to the organizers of the white supremacist group to cancel the planned demonstration. "There is never a place for bigotry or hatred in our community, and especially not now," Wheeler wrote.

"I am calling on every elected leader in Oregon, every legal agency, every level of law enforcement to stand with me in preventing another tragedy."

Here's the full text of Wheeler's post:

"On Friday three men Rick Best, Taliesin Myrddin Namkai-Meche, and Micah Fletcher stood up against bigotry and hatred. Two paid with their lives. A third was seriously injured.

Our community remains in shock and mourning. But we are also tremendously grateful to our heroes and their families for their selflessness and heroism. They will serve to inspire us to be the loving, courageous people we are meant to be.

As Mayor, I wanted to update you on a few developments:

1) I have reached out to all of the victims and their families, including the two women who were terrorized and subjected to such hatred and bigotry. I have offered my unconditional assistance and support, day or night.

2) I have confirmed that the City of Portland has NOT and will not issue any permits for the alt right events scheduled on June 4th or June 10th. The Federal government controls permitting for Shrunk Plaza, and it is my understanding that they have issued a permit for the event on June 4th."

3) I am calling on the federal government to IMMEDIATELY REVOKE the permit(s) they have issued for the June 4th event and to not issue a permit for June 10th. 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.

4) I am appealing to the organizers of the alt-right demonstrations to CANCEL the events they have scheduled on June 4th and June 10th. I urge them to ask their supporters to stay away from Portland. There is never a place for bigotry or hatred in our community, and especially not now.

5) I am calling on every elected leader in Oregon, every legal agency, every level of law enforcement to stand with me in preventing another tragedy.

6) When and if the time is right for them, I would like to work with the families to find an appropriate way to permanently remember their sacrifice and honor their courage. Their heroism is now part of the legacy of this great city and I want future generations to remember what happened here, and why, so that it might serve to both eradicate hatred and inspire future generations to stand up for the right values like Rick, Taliesin, and Micah did last week."















The ACLU of Oregon, however, doesn't agree with Wheeler, saying that what he suggested is a form of censorship.

In a response on their own Facebook page, the organization explained (emphasis added):

"Our hearts are broken, but government censorship is not the answer. The government cannot revoke or deny a permit based on the viewpoint of the demonstrators. Period.

It may be tempting to shut down speech we disagree with, but once we allow the government to decide what we can say, see, or hear, or who we can gather with, history shows us that the most marginalized will be disproportionately censored and punished for unpopular speech.

We are all free to reject and protest ideas we don't agree with. That is a core, fundamental freedom of the United States. If we allow the government to shut down speech for some, we all will pay the price down the line. We must defend the Constitution, even when it is uncomfortable.

If the government has concrete evidence of an imminent threat they can and should address it without restricting First Amendment rights of others."





The thing is ... both Wheeler and the ACLU of Oregon are right in different ways.

So where does that leave us?

At his arraignment, Christian shouted, "Free speech or die. Get out if you don't like free speech ... you call it terrorism, I call it patriotism ... die." Photo by Beth Nakamura/The Oregonian/OregonLive.

Like a lot of things in life, it's a bit nuanced.

Before you hop on #TeamTed or #TeamACLU, it's important to acknowledge that pretty much everyone involved in this has good intentions, is disgusted by Christian's actions, and doesn't want anything like it to happen ever again.

On one hand, you can absolutely see where Wheeler is coming from. With tensions running high and the fact that Christian had just recently attended a similar rally, it makes perfect sense that his impulse would be to shut down upcoming rallies for fear of provoking or inspiring another attack. With the city still mourning this loss, it's understandable that he'd look for ways to de-escalate the situation however he can and send a strong message against hate and bigotry.

On the other, the ACLU is totally right when it says the government can't simply revoke permits because of someone's political views. Responding to a comment on Facebook, the organization suggested that the mayor take a more measured approach that doesn't violate the Constitution by talking to the groups planning to hold rallies and asking them to reschedule in light of the recent attack. The groups don't have to, but without outlining why these rallies pose an imminent threat, that's about all Wheeler can legally do.

Freedom of speech, however, does not mean speech without consequences.

There are times when law enforcement can and should intervene to prevent speech from becoming action. For this, let's look at how the ACLU responded to the 2011 shooting outside the office of then-Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords (emphasis added):

"It is important to remember that while the First Amendment carefully guards our liberty to speak freely except in the most circumscribed situations, it is not a barrier to effective law enforcement against those reasonably believed to be involved in unlawful activity. ... In times like these, it is natural to look for ways to quell our horror and fear. But it is when people feel most vulnerable that our liberties are most at risk. Unraveling the principles that form the core of our democracy is not the answer."

No matter what someone's personal politics are, no matter what group they belong to, it's important that they're afforded that crucial right to freedom of speech. However, in heated times with heated rhetoric, we — and law enforcement agencies — have a responsibility to prevent that speech from boiling over into physical violence.

If the groups behind those upcoming "alt-right" demonstrations want to act in good faith, then yeah, perhaps they should think about canceling their demonstration in light of recent events. Up until Jeremy Christian pulled out a knife, he sounded just like them. To show that they do not condone his behavior — and not risk being seen as "reasonably believed to be involved in unlawful activity" and held responsible should another attack happen — canceling might be in their best interest to preserve their freedom of speech.

Whether or not these demonstrations happen, it's on the rest of us to not let an ideology of hate win out.

We can look to the brave men who lost their lives to this senseless violence as an inspiration to recommit to looking out for one another and standing up against hate. That might just be the best way to honor their memories.

A memorial set up in Portland shares a message of love and hope. Photo by Alex Milan Tracy via AP Images.

via FIRST

FIRST students compete in a robotics challenge.

True

Societies all over the world face an ever-growing list of complex issues that require informed solutions. Whether it’s addressing infectious diseases, the effects of climate change, supply chain issues or resource scarcity, the world has an immediate need for problem-solvers with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) skills.

Here in the United States, we’re experiencing a shortage of much-needed STEM workers, and forward-thinking organizations are stepping up to tap into America’s youth to fill the void. As the leading youth-serving nonprofit advancing STEM education, FIRST is an important player in this arena, and its mission is to inspire young people aged 4 to 18 to become technology leaders and innovators capable of addressing the world’s pressing needs.

Keep ReadingShow less

Co-sleeping isn't for everyone.

The marital bed is a symbol of the intimacy shared between people who’ve decided to be together 'til death they do part. When couples sleep together it’s an expression of their closeness and how they care for one another when they are most vulnerable.

However, for some couples, the marital bed can be a warzone. Throughout the night couples can endure snoring, sleep apnea, the ongoing battle for sheets or circadian rhythms that never seem to sync. If one person likes to fall asleep with the TV on while the other reads a book, it can be impossible to come to an agreement on a good-night routine.

Last week on TODAY, host Carson Daly reminded viewers that he and his wife Siri, a TODAY Food contributor, had a sleep divorce while she was pregnant with their fourth child.

“I was served my sleep-divorce papers a few years ago,” he explained on TODAY. “It’s the best thing that ever happened to us. We both, admittedly, slept better apart.”

Keep ReadingShow less

Marlon Brando on "The Dick Cavett Show" in 1973.

Marlon Brando made one of the biggest Hollywood comebacks in 1972 after playing the iconic role of Vito Corleone in Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Godfather.” The venerable actor's career had been on a decline for years after a series of flops and increasingly unruly behavior on set.

Brando was a shoo-in for Best Actor at the 1973 Academy Awards, so the actor decided to use the opportunity to make an important point about Native American representation in Hollywood.

Instead of attending the ceremony, he sent Sacheen Littlefeather, a Yaqui and Apache actress and activist, dressed in traditional clothing, to talk about the injustices faced by Native Americans.

She explained that Brando "very regretfully cannot accept this generous award, the reasons for this being … the treatment of American Indians today by the film industry and on television in movie reruns, and also with recent happenings at Wounded Knee."

Keep ReadingShow less
Joy

1991 blooper clip of Robin Williams and Elmo is a wholesome nugget of comedic genius

Robin Williams is still bringing smiles to faces after all these years.

Robin Williams and Elmo (Kevin Clash) bloopers.

The late Robin Williams could make picking out socks funny, so pairing him with the fuzzy red monster Elmo was bound to be pure wholesome gold. Honestly, how the puppeteer, Kevin Clash, didn’t completely break character and bust out laughing is a miracle. In this short outtake clip, you get to see Williams crack a few jokes in his signature style while Elmo tries desperately to keep it together.

Williams has been a household name since what seems like the beginning of time, and before his death in 2014, he would make frequent appearances on "Sesame Street." The late actor played so many roles that if you were ask 10 different people what their favorite was, you’d likely get 10 different answers. But for the kids who spent their childhoods watching PBS, they got to see him being silly with his favorite monsters and a giant yellow canary. At least I think Big Bird is a canary.

When he stopped by "Sesame Street" for the special “Big Bird's Birthday or Let Me Eat Cake” in 1991, he was there to show Elmo all of the wonderful things you could do with a stick. Williams turns the stick into a hockey stick and a baton before losing his composure and walking off camera. The entire time, Elmo looks enthralled … if puppets can look enthralled. He’s definitely paying attention before slumping over at the realization that Williams goofed a line. But the actor comes back to continue the scene before Elmo slinks down inside his box after getting Williams’ name wrong, which causes his human co-star to take his stick and leave.

The little blooper reel is so cute and pure that it makes you feel good for a few minutes. For an additional boost of serotonin, check out this other (perfectly executed) clip about conflict that Williams did with the two-headed monster. He certainly had a way of engaging his audience, so it makes sense that even after all of these years, he's still greatly missed.