Rantz: It was wrong to shut down Kshama Sawant

May 4, 2018, 10:00 AM

Sawant, Amazon, head tax...

Construction workers drowned out whatever Kshama Sawant was trying to say at Amazon on Thursday, May 3, 2018. (Facebook Live)

(Facebook Live)

I disagree with most positions taken by Councilmember Kshama Sawant. Her views and mine are polar opposites and her position on the Amazon head tax can’t be more misguided. However, it was wrong of iron workers to shout her down at Thursday’s news conference. Indeed, it is always wrong to stop others from engaging in their protected speech.

RELATED: Construction workers drown out Kshama Sawant

It’s important that we don’t stoop to the levels of the fringe Left, which stop speech via the heckler’s veto. We shouldn’t cheer on this behavior either, even if we may smile that her side is getting a taste of their own medicine. During the event, Sawant and her camp claimed their side doesn’t frequently shut down speakers by shouting. That’s demonstrably untrue, unless we’re willing to lie and say the activists who cause problems at council events, at Bernie Sanders rallies, at conservative speakers at UW are conservative troublemakers. They’re fringe left wingers and Socialists. And what they do to silence speech they disagree with is disturbing and disgusting and always wrong.

But it’s equally important to note that we – those of us who oppose Sawant’s position on the head tax – didn’t, in fact, shout Sawant down. Her own people did.

These weren’t conservatives giving progressives a taste of their own medicine. The protesters shouting “no head tax” are Sawant’s people. These are union workers.

RELATED: City Council to delay vote on head tax

And kudos to them for acknowledging that Amazon pays high wages with outstanding perks (even when they don’t have to). It’s part of the hidden Amazon effect on Seattle. They do us a lot of good, but don’t publicize it, partly because it’s tacky and partly because, I presume, they think it’s obvious. It seems obvious, for example, that Amazon is responsible for the new, trendy restaurants and shops that have popped up only after Amazon developed this city into a world-class city. It seems obvious that the new apartment complexes are going up because of Amazon. It seems obvious Amazon is responsible for tens of thousands of new jobs in the region. When you talk to the workers, who Sawant claims to represent, they are not on her side in going after Amazon with a head tax.

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Rantz: It was wrong to shut down Kshama Sawant