When I heard that there was a Free Speech event taking place near my hometown, I thought, “Why not?” I figured with the current political climate, now is the best time to see the division in American politics first-hand.
The last major event I attended like this was at UC Berkeley where multiple conservative speakers were scheduled to speak for four days. However, this ended in cancellation as tremendous protests forced the local police to shut down the event. I couldn’t believe how much of a circus it was with all the shouting, arguing, and foot traffic all around me. I wondered if this event would be any different.
I was not disappointed.
At first, I didn’t know what to expect. I had only been to San Francisco once before and all I knew was that it’s not exactly the most conservative place in the world. When I arrived at city hall, where the event was held, the biggest eyesores were the cops closing off the streets and a small group of Trump supporters waiting outside.
The turnout wasn’t huge, but there were Trump shirts and flags all over the place. Reporters quickly began interviewing numerous people in the crowd, asking about their values and reasons for showing up.
The vibe was pretty positive and friendly. The unifying bond was the fight for Free Speech. Some were openly criticizing a few conservatives who were recently de-platformed, but that didn’t mean they wanted them to be censored— no matter how controversial they may be.
The irony of it all is that the day before the event, Facebook and Instagram banned several prominent right-wing commentators which only emboldened the theme of the rally. Talk about perfect timing.
Once it was time for the speakers to come out, counter protesters emerged from around the corner. I was a little nervous because Antifa had threatened to break up the event in the days leading up to it. Fortunately, less than 10 people managed to follow through and it wasn’t long before the conservatives had a face off with them.
The protesters were holding a giant banner calling for the impeachment of President Trump and Vice President Pence. Finally, I heard the infamous chant in person, “No Trump, no KKK, no fascist USA.” The police kept the protesters on one side of the street directly across from the event in order to prevent any ugly situations.
A few minutes behind schedule, the speakers appeared, setting up their podium and lined up behind it. The crowd quickly flocked to the front barrier and waited to hear what they had to say. The main organizer, Adrienna DiCioccio, started with her introduction of the Free Speech issue and the social media censorship keeping conservatives, like her, from speaking their minds on social media platforms. Other speakers included Mike Tokes, Joe Biggs, and other e-celebrities expanded on these talking points with their own input and got plenty of reactions from the audience.
After everybody had their say, one of the most fascinating parts of the event occurred when some of the speakers met with the counter protesters across the street and began an open dialogue. Needless to say, it was ultimately a one-sided screaming match, but, I thought that it was admirable to be willing to talk to the people who were trying to shut down the entire event.
The one thing I couldn’t understand was how a Free Speech event could be interpreted as controversial. This should be a completely bipartisan issue. The problem is that the left has largely re-framed Free Speech as a gateway for white nationalism. Therefore, conservatives have no room to defend themselves since their rhetoric is deemed as dangerous to the public. This is the lens that makes Free Speech events nearly impossible to arrange since open dialogue is seen as a threat.
Nevertheless, I will always attend as many of these events as I can, because it’s fun, often educational, and another great example of American politics never having a dull moment.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.