The NBA’s row with China should be a lesson to the US – free speech should not be used in defence of rioters
- The US staunchly supports free speech, but even it does not allow speech that discriminates or puts others in danger
- The NBA should look at what the rioters are doing to Hong Kong and show some respect for China’s position
Over the past week or so, the long-simmering China-US disputes seem to have spilled over from the geopolitical and economic realms into the people-to-people arena. This is not good. In this increasingly multipolar world, America needs to learn to be fellow citizens of a shared world and refrain from nosing into other people’s affairs.
There is no reason for this. In Hong Kong’s brutal colonial past, protests were indeed illegal and brutally suppressed. But in today’s Hong Kong, protests are legal and allowed.
Even in the US – which has one of the strongest protections of speech in the world – the government regulates the time, place and manner of protest. American protesters do not have a First Amendment right to block pedestrian or vehicle traffic, or to prevent entry and exit from buildings, or to harass other members of the public.
Protesters in America do not have a First Amendment right to obstruct and resist police officers; trespass; disobey police orders regarding traffic; vandalise; break curfew at parks, beaches or other public spaces; conspire to inflict harm to others; to disturb the peace; or to incite violence against on grounds of others’ race, religion, nationality, identity or other beliefs. Protesters also cannot target their protests at sensitive facilities such as abortion centres, hospitals, churches and homes of individuals, or disregard government’s regulations relating to sound amplification and other noise issues.
If Morey wants to support the absolute “freedom” of rioters to express their conscience, fine. But if some mainland or Hong Kong’s counterprotesters were to show up at his games and start vandalising and attacking his fans, would he stand up also for the rights of these “counterprotesters”?
I hope more Americans do more homework before they preach, judge and cast their stones at China. China is a major power, not a target for foreign-sponsored violent overthrows. Please do unto others only as you would have them do unto you.
Crying “fire” in a crowded theatre – whether in the US or Hong Kong – is a crime – not freedom. Throwing “incendiary bombs” at crowds and police is also a crime – not freedom.
Allen Yu is an adjunct fellow at the Chunqiu Institute for Development and Strategic Studies