A Bid For Host is Not the Same as Allowing Free Speech

Much of this blog post is in reference to the article, Citing Costs and ‘Disruptions,’ Nirenberg Says San Antonio Will Not Pursue 2020 GOP Convention.

The San Antonio city council has decided NOT to bid on the Republican National Convention. Since the Republican party, led by the likes of a man who’s last name rhymes with “rump,” Paul Ryan, and Mitch McConnell, that allows Steve King to stay in Congress, and tried to bring in Roy Moore, is a bunch of fascists out to destroy everything I love, I consider this good news because I was furious at the prospect when I first learned of it in an article titled, San Antonio City Council Warned Not to Talk Politics of GOP Convention Bid in Closed Session. This is the party that put a disgusting racist in the White House because they agree with his bigotry. He’s called Mexicans, my neighbors and ancestors, rapists, to start off his campaign along with plenty of racist history before that (questioning President Obama’s birth certificate, calling for the execution of the Central Park Five, denying rent to Black people and so on). Another more recent item that sticks out in my mind is his calling Haiti a “shithole” (or possibly “shithouse”).

I live in District 9 and met John Courage in person some months before he was elected. We talked for maybe 30 minutes about several topics (it could have been longer, my point is that it was to me a significant amount of time). We agreed on many points, and he listened to my frustrations and fears. My district electing a person who leans more on the liberal or progressive side of things than conservative was a pleasant surprise. I call or email him from time to time though not sure if he or his staff ever remember me by name. After Hurricane Harvey hit, I stopped by his office to make a donation. I was disheartened to read the following comment on his take on, “whether [he] thought the city should submit a bid to host the Republican National Convention.”

Councilman John Courage (D9): Maybe. “I believe in the freedom of speech and the freedom of assembly,” he said. “Whatever they decide to do is up to them.” Asked whether the same level of scrutiny would be applied to a bid for a Democratic National Convention, Courage said, “Absolutely, I would think so.”

Freedom of speech and freedom of assembly? What does that have to do with a bid to get the RNC here? Nothing. The “Whatever they decide to do is up to them,” sounds more like a response to a question like, “What do you think if the Republican party decided to have their convention here?”

I am exhausted of anyone making the argument that bigotry is free speech, and that is what I feel a Republican convention is based on the leaders of that party and their actions, votes, and so on toward myself and the people I love. As my Twitter mutual Amadi has said in one tweet of this worthwhile full thread, “There’s no such thing as just speech. Speech is an act. Opinions matter because they motivate people to action. We know it.” That is all true, and I feel it when I see the current party in power do everything they can to take away my family’s health care or to hurt my career by working to destroy Net Neutrality, or to threaten my family’s right to exist because they hate our Mexican heritage.

Please take a look at the following from one of the other councilmen, Rey Saldaña:

“One week of economic boost two years from now does not [override] all of the feelings that my constituents have,” he said. “The fact that our president has gone out of his way to personally offend so many residents who I represent and personally offend …. folks who are transexual or Dreamers or disabled – the list goes on – it’s been very difficult to say yes to this and controversial because the president has made it so.”

Another councilman, Roberto Treviño, referred to our “cultural heritage.” and it hurts that they are the only two on the council willing to specify to that degree the harm caused by this alleged “president” because so many want to give the appearance of concern for financial and economic benefit and not opposing the party of bullies.

Even if I personally felt it were acceptable for the Republicans to have their big hate convention here, and I don’t, the obligation of the government for freedom of speech is to not prevent the gathering itself. They have no obligation to bid, so the answer simply ignores the question and relates it to something that is not really the question at hand.

I am disappointed because all too often I see people arguing with the words “free speech” about things that are most certainly not a debate about “free speech,” that those arguments are harmful, and now I can count my representative that municipal level in that group.