How Free Speech Lost in Charlottesville

America’s news reporters couldn’t get enough of last summer’s Charlottesville mayhem when the story tangentially involved Donald Trump. But when a special report commissioned by the city this week finally gives us something approaching a detailed story of what happened that awful day, the media couldn’t care less.

Read the report yourself. As with any governmental snafu, plenty of shortcomings are detailed in the city’s planning and actions, not to mention a dubious effort by the police chief after the fact to control the fact-finding. A bigger picture, though, suggests the city should have canceled the white nationalist groups’ permit on grounds that the city couldn’t assure their safety given the expected influx of counterprotesters.

Yes, this would have been to invite a First Amendment lawsuit. It would have meant, as the city’s lawyers argued, issuing a “heckler’s veto” to left-wing activists, who sadly were the primary threat of violence.

The white nationalists may be crazy but not the kind of crazy as to welcome being manhandled by a mob 40 times their size. And force majeure is a pretty good legal argument.

I should point out, this is my conclusion, not the report’s. The report, by former federal prosecutor Timothy J. Heaphy, a partner at Hunton & Williams, couldn’t be clearer that most Charlottesville residents revile the “white supremacists,” but the report’s first line also refers to Americans’ belief in “an ordered…

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