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Protest against Hate or “Banned in Boston”?

My letter to the Boston Globe about the “counter-protest” to the planned “free-speech” rally last weekend.



(…in case the link breaks or you can’t get past the paywall…)

Monday’s self-congratulatory editorial lamented, almost in passing, that no media were allowed to record what was said in the “far-right” rally on Boston Common, and noted that it “would have been better had the public known exactly what the rallygoers were doing and saying” (“Boston’s mettle is tested, but questions linger”). You clearly come to that conclusion from the popular presumption that what they were “doing and saying” was malicious and hateful — “far right” — and that hearing it would have affirmed the moral superiority of “the public” that gathered to protest it.

But the reason reporters should have reported on what was said is that the presumption the rally was either “far right” or “hateful” now remains just that: an unconfirmed assumption. Its organizers said it was not. They said it was about the right to speak freely. That used to be a liberal cause.

Because their speech fell into an officially imposed zone of silence, we now don’t know which account — free speech or far-right hate — is closer to the truth. Was the monumental counterprotest really virtuous resistance to hate? Or was it merely another ugly and self-righteous chapter in the long history of “banned in Boston”?

© Copyright 2017, Augustus P. Lowell

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