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.

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

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.

True


Often, parents of children with special needs struggle to find Halloween costumes that will accommodate medical equipment or provide a proper fit. And figuring out how to make one? Yikes.

There's good news; shopDisney has added new ensembles to their already impressive line of adaptive play costumes. And from 8/30 - 9/26, there's a 20% off sale for all costume and costume accessory orders of $75+ with code Spooky.

When looking for the right costume, kids with unique needs have a lot of extra factors to consider: wheelchair wheels get tangled up in too-long material, feeding tubes could get twisted the wrong way, and children with sensory processing disorders struggle with the wrong kind of fabric, seams, or tags. There are a lot of different obstacles that can come between a kid and the ability to wear the costume of their choice, which is why it's so awesome that more and more companies are recognizing the need for inclusive creations that make it easy for everyone to enjoy the magic of make-believe.

Created with inclusivity in mind, the adaptive line is designed to discreetly accommodate tubes or wires from the front or the back, with lots of stretch, extra length and roomier cut, and self-stick fabric closures to make getting dressed hassle-free. The online shop provides details on sizing and breaks down the magical elements of each outfit and accessory, taking the guesswork out of selecting the perfect costume for the whole family.

Your child will be able to defeat Emperor Zurg in comfort with the Buzz Lightyear costume featuring a discreet flap opening at the front for easy tube access, with self-stick fabric closure. There is also an opening at the rear for wheelchair-friendly wear, and longer-length inseams to accommodate seated guests. To infinity and beyond!

An added bonus: many of the costumes offer a coordinating wheelchair cover set to add a major boost of fun. Kids can give their ride a total makeover—all covers are made to fit standard size chairs with 24" wheels—to transform it into anything from The Mandalorian's Razor Crest ship to Cinderella's Coach. Some options even come equipped with sounds and lights!

From babies to adults and adaptive to the group, shopDisney's expansive variety of Halloween costumes and accessories are inclusive of all.

Don't forget about your furry companions! Everyone loves to see a costumed pet trotting around, regardless of the occasion. You can literally dress your four-legged friend to look like Sven from Frozen, which might not sound like something you need in your life but...you totally do. CUTENESS OVERLOAD.

This year has been tough for everyone, so when a child gets that look of unfettered joy that comes from finally getting to wear the costume of their dreams, it's extra rewarding. Don't wait until the last minute to start looking for the right ensemble!


*Upworthy may earn a portion of sales revenue from purchases made through affiliate links on our site.

Photo by Tod Perry

The first few months after having a newborn are seriously stressful. It's tough to get any sleep and your entire schedule revolves around the needs of the baby.

It's expensive, too! It seems like you're constantly shelling out $25 for a box of diapers and $40 for a can of formula.

So it's understandable that a Facebook user who goes by the name of Chris Blaze asked for a deal when buying a Samsung washer and dryer set of a guy named Dave he met online.

Keep Reading Show less