Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez demonstrated the old adage “actions speak louder than words” at a recent town hall when a constituent questioned the socialist’s “fascist” perspective on free speech.
Video of the sparsely attended event in Queens featured a small crowd and a line of speakers waiting to address Ocasio-Cortez, who stood on an elevated stage behind a fancy podium.
One of the speakers introduced himself as James Scott Berry and described himself as a registered Republican with the life mantra “always be willing to be wrong.”
Berry posed two different questions: Whether AOC would be willing to investigation the “over 3 million incidents of violent acts and threats of violence allowed in our schools against teachers and against fellow students ever year,” and whether she’s agreed that the greatest freedom in the world is the “freedom to hate, because in many countries you cannot.”
“In America, you can hate Donald Trump, and because it is not against the law he cannot put you in prison,” Berry said. “Isn’t that a great thing?”
AOC ignored the first question.
“I think that at the bedrock of what you are discussing is freedom of speech and the freedom of expression,” the congresswoman said. “I think that we have a freedom to express ourselves, but we should also know that in the United States there are also limitations on our freedom of speech.”
“No, only if it involves violence or threats, things that are illegal,” Berry clarified.
“Exactly,” AOC said.
“But that’s not free speech, threats are not free speech,” Berry continued. “I don’t think you should say that because that’s confusing the issue.”
That’s when Berry’s microphone went out. As Ocasio-Cortez continued her lecture he repeatedly attempted to respond but could not.
“I just want to introduce some nuance to the conversation,” she said. “I’m just trying to introduce some nuance to the conversation. I’m not trying to have an argument here, I want to have a discussion.”
Berry responded, but without the microphone it’s unclear what he said.
“I’m absolutely open to being proven wrong on many issues,” AOC said. “I’ll just let you know my perspective. …
“My perspective is that we absolutely have a protected freedom of speech. Someone can say ‘I hate so-and-so’ and that is protected speech,” she said before delving into a Supreme Court case about “yelling fire in a crowded movie theater because that will force people to trample one another.”
There was a brief back-and-forth between AOC and Berry, but only the congresswoman’s comments are audible in the video, which shows an Ocasio-Cortez aide approach Berry, who became agitated about being silenced.
“If you didn’t turn my mic off, I wouldn’t have to raise my voice,” Berry told AOC’s aide. “You fascists turned my mic off.”
“Oh sir, no, no,” the congresswoman said. “You can turn his mic on, you didn’t have to turn it off.”
“Thank you very much,” Berry said, microphone restored.
“No, it’s totally fine,” AOC said. “I think for me sir, my concern is we have freedom to say I hate this, or I hate that. Where I do get concerned is where that line is played with so that we have plausible deniability to incite violence against people.
“I don’t think the president should have tweeted that video that he tweeted,” AOC said, referring to a video of fellow Justice Democrat Rep. Ilhan Omar minimizing the 9/11 terrorist attacks as “some people did something.”
Omar complained that President Trump posting a video of her comments to Twitter led to death threats and put her life and her family at risk.
“Do I think he should have gone to jail for it? Absolutely not,” she said. “But I don’t think he should have done that. I think by endangering Congresswoman Omar he was playing with this line, and … ”
“Well, I disagree,” Berry said, cutting Ocasio-Cortez off mid-sentence. “She endangered herself.”
Berry then offered his assessment on AOC’s perspective.
“That’s not endangerment by showing a true video. So showing the truth is endangerment, is inciting violence, to show the truth. That is fascism,” Berry fumed. “His right to show the truth of what happened is just as valid as her right to say whatever she wants to say.”
AOC was on her heels.
“It is,” she agreed. “And sir, that’s why he’s not being … that’s why there’s no charges being brought up against him.”
“He’s being criticized by you as though there should be charges,” Berry fired back.
“No, no, I don’t think there should be charges,” AOC said.
“You say he’s inciting violence against her,” Berry responded.
“I think he is,” AOC said.
“That’s absurd,” Berry replied. “You cannot incite violence. Inciting violence is illegal.”
“You’re bringing incitement and hate speech together, which is totally absurd and fascist,” he concluded.