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Are violent demonstrations acceptable political speech? Titus thought so

CARSON CITY — In her speech to the Nevada Legislature last week, Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., said violent protests on college campuses are responses to Donald Trump’s presidency and proposed budget. She also included violent protests in a list of ways people are “coming together” to oppose Trump.

“It’s not just people from around the world who are concerned (about Trump’s budget proposal),” said Titus. “Here at home we see people coming together in ways that we haven’t witnessed in a long time. There are rallies. There are protests. There are neighborhood events. We’ve had a women’s march, a tax march, there’s a science march.

“We’ve seen coverage of raucous town hall meetings and demonstrations on college campuses that have turned violent.

“It’s because people want to know what is going on. They want to know what’s going to happen to the programs that help those who are the most vulnerable, like Meals on Wheels for seniors.”

That’s a comprehensive list of ways that people can get involved in the political process, but one of those things is not like the others. Rallies, protests, marches and even booing at a town hall are acts of protected speech, but violent demonstrations aren’t.

Rather, they’re a tactic that some on the left are using to shut down speech.

In February, hooligans caused $100,000 worth of damage at the University of California, Berkeley protesting the planned speech of Milo Yoannopoulos. The university ended up canceling the event.

In March, a mob at Middlebury College drove Charles Murray from his speaking venue and then attacked and injured a liberal professor who was escorting Murray off the campus. The Middlebury incident led some pundits to wonder when a conservative will literally be murdered by a mob on a liberal campus for daring to exercise free speech rights.

The next incident is likely coming Thursday. That’s when conservative commentator Ann Coulter has said she will speak at Berkeley despite the university wanting to cancel the event because of credible threats of “grave danger.”

Whatever you think of Coulter, it is outrageous that police and university security would allow a mob to limit someone’s First Amendment rights, especially on a publicly funded campus. It’s always ironic that liberals think more government can solve society’s ills, but they put policies in place to prevent police departments from defending constitutional rights.

I contacted Titus’ office to ask if she wanted to clarify or walk back her remarks. Initially her office issued a terse dismissal of the need to even ask about it. After I followed up, spokesman Mike Naft emailed, “She does not consider violent demonstrations to be equivalent (to the other forms of expression she listed).”

While a forceful denouncement of violent protests from a congresswoman and potential U.S. Senate candidate shouldn’t be too much to ask, you’ll take what you can get from the left these days.

The day liberals refuse to acknowledge that those of us on the right should be allowed to speak, our country will have fully come apart.

Victor Joecks’ column appears in the Nevada section each Monday, Wednesday and Friday. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

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