I don’t know where to begin. Let’s just go in order.
1. Who the hell says “you can’t shout ‘wolf’ in a crowded theater”? The expression is “you can’t shout ‘fire’ in a crowded theater.” Maybe the “wolf” example was more relevant in the 19th century, when Pelosi was growing up.
2. The point about being barred from shouting “fire” in a crowded theater comes from a case that’s nearly a hundred years old, hasn’t been good law for nearly 50, and today is widely considered an abomination of free-speech jurisprudence. For good reason: The point about fire in a crowded theater is easily abused to justify silencing “dangerous” speakers whether or not they’re really dangerous. (The case it comes from, in fact, upheld the conviction of an anti-war protester handing out leaflets encouraging draft dodging.) It’s an invitation to censorship on vague “public safety” grounds. To her credit, the reporter here does what reporters rarely do in instances like this and fact-checks Pelosi on that at the end of the clip. She’s quite right that the modern law of criminal incitement is waaaaay narrower than ye olde “fire in a crowded theater” example.
3. I don’t know a thing about the “Patriot Prayer” group that’s organizing the rally in San Francisco. Pelosi insists they’re a white nationalist outfit, but given the low bar the Southern Poverty Law Center has for designating right-wing outfits “hate groups,” the fact that Patriot Prayer hasn’t made the cut makes me suspect they’re far removed from being proper alt-righters. The leader of the group doesn’t, er, look alt-right, and he’s been stressing in interviews lately that only one of the eight speakers booked for the upcoming rally is white. Guns and tiki torches have also been banned from the rally as a condition of the permit, making Pelosi’s claim about danger even thinner. I think Joey Gibson, the leader of the group, is quite right about the politics of incitement here:
And, he said, Pelosi actually made the rally “more dangerous.”
“Nancy Pelosi said it was a white supremacist rally so she could bring out extremists on the right and the left,” Gibson said. “She’s telling white supremacists to come into town.”
She’s all but telling Antifa to come to town by painting Patriot Prayer as some sort of dangerous Nazi group, and when they do, she’ll use that to try to retroactively justify her “wolf” point about danger.
But never mind all that. Assume Pelosi’s right that they’re white nationalists. On what grounds does that justify denying them access to a public space for a rally? If counter-protesters show up wanting to throw down, that’s not evidence that Patriot Prayer is dangerous, it’s evidence that Pelosi’s lefty friends are. Unless I’ve misunderstood her she’s all but openly endorsing the “heckler’s veto” here in recommending that citizens be denied the right to speak on public property because the reaction to them might turn threatening. It’s pure viewpoint discrimination. Retire, Nancy.