On Friday, a group of tiki torch–weilding white nationalists converged on a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, waving Confederate flags and chanting. Today that exercise in free speech—for and against the wildly wrongheaded notion that America is a nation built on white supremacy—escalated to violence, with numerous scuffles between protesters and counter-protesters, and finally a car plowing through the crowd:
Video of car hitting anti-racist protestors. Let there be no confusion: this was deliberate terrorism. My prayers with victims. Stay home. pic.twitter.com/MUOZs71Pf4— Brennan Gilmore (@brennanmgilmore) August 12, 2017
In a time when a surprising number of Americans believe that hate speech is against the law, this is a good moment to remember that while (very nearly) all speech is legal, assault is not. Charlottesville was right to let the protest go on, and they are right to take legal action to stop the violence now.
Reason's Ronald Bailey wrote about the fight over Confederate monuments in Charlottesville earlier this year, and will have a dispatch live from the scene shortly.