We bow to no one in our disgust with Donald Trump’s offensive comments about Muslims, Mexicans and women, and we’re appalled by his reckless rhetoric. But we also recognize that the 1st Amendment gives Trump (and everyone else) a right to free speech anywhere in the United States. The mayor of West Hollywood seems to have a problem with that basic principle.
Mayor Lindsey P. Horvath has written to the Trump campaign saying that the “hate speech and implicit calls to violence coming from your campaign are beyond the pale and have no place in any community in our country.” Fair enough. But Horvath also has suggested that she might use her power to deny the Trump campaign a special events permit if it seeks to hold a rally in her city. Which, by the way, it has not.
Sorry, but denying the Trump campaign a permit that is available to other political speakers would be shutting down speech. (Just as it would be if a conservative mayor denied a permit for a Bernie Sanders rally.) Indeed, a discriminatory use of the permitting process would be wrong even if West Hollywood claimed to be responding to Trump’s past statements that seemed to encourage violence. The mayor has flirted with that argument, warning that “charged language can incite dangerous activity that puts our residents and neighborhoods at risk.”
West Hollywood’s attorney has suggested that Horvath was simply “expressing her distaste for hate speech that marginalizes and disrespects people” and says that the city would adhere to the 1st Amendment. The mayor should listen to her lawyer, and make clear that if Trump applied for a permit he would be considered on the same basis as any other candidate, regardless of whether she is horrified by his views.