“At the Walnut Creek city council meeting last week, several anonymous speakers called into Public Communication to air their antisemitism. Nationally, we’ve seen a rise of 500% in antisemitic hate speech and incidents over the last 10 years, with an equal rise in other hate incidents/speech targeted towards other groups. This is unfortunately the down side to technology which gives us a greater way of communicating. People can be repugnant with their hate speech on Zoom, or with banners, and the 1st Amendment will ensure they aren’t arrested. But Freedom of Speech has its limits: You can’t yell “Fire” in a crowded theatre, and you can’t incite a riot. And when it comes to Public Comments in a government forum, the chairperson of that entity, has the right to keep decorum and language civil. Vulgarity, threats, or targeted hate speech are just some of the areas that will not be tolerated. Otherwise, public comments, no matter how much we may disagree with the speaker, are allowed.
Walnut Creek prides itself on being a welcoming community for all. City leadership is unanimously opposed to hate speech and discrimination. In fact, one of our core City Council priorities is Diversity, Equity, and Inclusiveness. Hate and intimidation are not welcome here, nor anywhere I would surmise.
As we know, hate lives when people are silent, and silence equals complicity. Hate doesn’t play favorites. Today’s antisemitism becomes tomorrow’s racism, becomes anti-Latino, becomes anti-Asian, becomes anti-Muslim, becomes anti-LGBTQ, and round it goes. Hate speech targets “others.” The haters stay anonymous, regardless of whatever “pride” they claim about themselves, knowing they would be ostracized by employers and neighbors if their identities were public. It’s important not to become numb to these disgusting statements. And we all must stand up for those that don’t have the means to speak up for themselves.”
“Evil Triumphs when good people do nothing”
Walnut Creek City Councilmember