Editorial: With free speech, the where and the when can be as important as the why

The Denver Post: Questions about how public institutions handle free speech demonstrations and protests have been extra keen in Colorado of late. Following President Donald Trump’s travel and refugee restrictions, protesters flocked to Denver International Airport. There they faced, ironically perhaps, the hard realities of trying to speak their minds in the secure environment created by the kind of terror fears fueling the president’s executive order.

Meanwhile, two weeks ago the University of Colorado grappled with how to handle protests over a speech by the all-around distasteful Milo Yian­nopoulos, and the Boulder campus came out a winner after a mostly peaceful demonstration. A bill before the Colorado legislature seeks to send a clear message in support of free speech on college campuses that we are quick to appreciate, and we hope lawmakers find a way to make it law.

Both incidents are reminders that in the public arena, so often the moment matters as much as the message. Officials must balance that reality as they also wrangle legitimate concerns about their mission and the safety of public they serve.

DIA officials now face a lawsuit from some of the hundreds of protesters who relocated to the airport’s new transit plaza because they lacked a permit to gather at the terminal. Remarkably, we learn that DIA’s rules require a seven-day process for obtaining such a permit.

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