Fighting fascism: Let free speech ring |

Fighting fascism: Let free speech ring

Getty Images
A left-wing antifa protester holds up a sign in front of riot police as they cleared a park at a June rally in Portland, Ore. A protest dubbed 'Trump Free Speech' by organizers was met by a large contingent of counter-demonstrators, who viewed the protest as a promotion of racism. (Getty Images)

In the aftermath of the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., Americans from all walks of life and diverse faiths have come together in Pittsburgh and elsewhere to denounce the scourge of racism and hatred. Gradually and with citizens’ determination, the healing has begun.

But in these displays of unity, the right to free speech must never be perceived as some sort of “cover” for neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other minority fascists by groups that are not dissimilar in their own creeds and behaviors.

To wit: The leftist adherents of the antifa movement (which stands for “anti-fascists”) are no fans of the First Amendment, which they have made clear in shouting down, and effectively silencing, what they identify as hate speech. We’ve seen such methods used to force the cancellation of speeches earlier this year by Ann Coulter and Milo Yiannopoulos.

There can be no productive debate when one side — left or right — is shut down by the unbridled belligerence of the other.

“It is important for the public to understand that the so-called antifa are not well-intentioned bystanders engaged in civil discourse but armed thugs intent on silencing their opponents,” says Mark Pulliam, a lawyer and pundit. As well, the president of the liberal Southern Poverty Law Center acknowledges that it’s wrong to allow one group of people “the right to silence another group of people.”

Now as always, the antidote to fascism, in its many ugly forms, is free speech.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.