SLO New Times Whitewashes Criticism as ‘Silencing’ of Free Speech

Aaron Ochs
5 min readMay 25, 2023
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Freedom of speech is not free of consequences.

This is not a foreign concept. In fact, this is something I’ve discussed at great length over the years. Most people in our country are against any sort of prohibition of freedom of speech and freedom of expression. And people are often critical of speech that is expressed.

Some of that criticism includes the notion that just because you can doesn’t mean you should. In other words, just because you can legally express yourself doesn’t mean the content behind that expression is justified. It’s like farting in a crowded elevator. Yes, you can absolutely do that, but that’s not going to stop people from complaining — and rightfully so.

Within the past two months, a group of masked men put up a “EMBRACE WHITE PRIDE” banner on the Vineyard Drive bridge in Templeton. The first time it happened in April, people mobilized and gathered for a counter-demonstration a week later. When the white supremacists gathered a second time this month, people mobilized a lot quicker and showed up at the bridge on the same day.

The Tribune Editorial Board published a piece about first incident on May 10. SLO New Times’ Shredder read off the editorial headline (“Racists held up a ‘white pride’ banner in SLO County. Will they dare to tell us why?”) and described the editorial as “handwringing over a little free speech.”

The Shredder went on a long-winded rant about how white supremacists are “terrified” by white liberals because white liberals are embarrassed by their bigotry and want nothing to do with them. And therefore, instead of “silencing” free speech, white liberals should come together and drown out hate with speech that promotes tolerance, acceptance and inclusivity. Shredder doesn’t provide any examples of anyone “silencing” the free speech of these white supremacists.

It’s a weird flex to call out The Tribune’s editorial over a “handwringing over free speech” narrative they never attempted to make, especially since The Tribune readily dismissed that in their May 17 editorial, which the New Times conveniently ignored. “We don’t have to silence them to stop their hate,” the editorial board wrote. In that same editorial, The Tribune came up with a suggestion…

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Aaron Ochs

Author, artist, advocate and entrepreneur from Morro Bay, California.