Violence in Charlottesville: Hate Speech Is Legal, Assault Is Not

On Friday, a group of tiki torch–wielding white nationalists converged on a statue of Robert E. Lee in Charlottesville, Virginia, waving Confederate flags and chanting. Today that exercise in free speech—for and against the vile, wildly wrongheaded notion that America's greatness is in any way related to the supremacy of the white race—escalated to violence, with numerous scuffles between protesters and counter-protesters, and finally a car plowing through the crowd:

In a time when a surprising number of Americans believe that hate speech is against the law, this is a good moment to remember that while (very nearly) all speech is legal, assault is not. Charlottesville was right to let the protest go on, and local law enforcement is right to take legal action to stop the violence now.

Reason's Ronald Bailey wrote about the fight over Confederate monuments in Charlottesville earlier this year, and will have a dispatch live from the scene shortly.