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It's You, and It Can't Not Be You
I’m going to start with something I said yesterday, but then watch what happens next.
In Los Gatos, California, the city council is angry that their meetings are being “hijacked” by public comment from vicious right-wing Trump people. Sample local headlines:
And so the local news stories say things like this:
Assemblymember Evan Low and Sen. Dave Cortese sent a letter to Town Manager Laurel Prevetti denouncing the disruption of government meetings and asking the town to explain its policy on harassment of public leaders, whether it extends to their families, and what steps staff have taken to prevent bullying of elected officials.
The letter also asked Prevetti to acknowledge that the elected officials have been subjected to bullying and harassment during meetings. `
Now: If you’re cool with that, and you accept the premise that it’s obnoxious and horrible for anti-vaxxers and anti-LGBT speakers to “hijack” city council meetings by speaking at public comment, which is “bullying,” then here’s the next thing for you to consider:
Three hundred miles to the South, the Pasadena City Council is also concerned that their meetings are being “hijacked.” They use the same word. And so the mayor of Pasadena is implementing changes to the city’s public comment policy, channeling and limiting public comment, to stop loud and angry extremists from hijacking the council meetings by speaking during the designated public comment period.
But in this case, these hijackers are leftist police reformers from anti-racist groups like BLM and SURJ. You can watch them hijack the council meeting here, for example, on March 22, as they tell the council that Pasadena police are murderers, and as the first speaker describes councilmembers “as they stare vacantly and sit in their racist stupor.”
Elected officials in Los Gatos believe their meetings are being hijacked because people on the political right are speaking to them in angry and demeaning language, and they want the speakers to be silenced; elected officials in Pasadena believe their meetings are being hijacked because people on the political left are speaking to them in angry and demeaning language, and they want the speakers to be silenced.
You can’t accept one but decline the other. You can only accept both, or accept neither. If you accept the premise that someone can properly be silenced, that some public speech at council meetings is “hijacking” and can be stopped, then you accept the premise.
And then you’re next, and you can’t complain about it.