SOUTHERN HOSPITALITY – I don’t carry any water for Lauren Southern as I’m not a big fan of social media celebrity controversialists a la Milo, whether of the alt or the ctrl or shift or caps varieties. But the efforts to shut her down in Australia are ridiculous verging on outrageous:

Professional provocateur Lauren Southern has reportedly been sent a $68,000 bill from Victoria Police for their resources to be used at her show in Melbourne on Friday.

The Canadian commentator is expected to share her controversial views on multiculturalism, Islam and feminism during the event, at an undisclosed location, on Friday.An email from Victoria Police quotes the total cost as $230,000 but said police would only charge her $67,842.50, News Corp Australia reported. “As per the Victoria Police (fees and charges) Regulations 2014, Victoria Police has the right to charge any event organiser for the use of police resources,” a spokesman told AAP.The Campaign Against Racism and Fascism has organised a protest in Melbourne to “show fascistic ideas will always lose in Melbourne” against Ms Southern’s show.

It’s outrageous because:

a) the radical left is effectively being handed the power of a “heckler’s veto”, whereby threats of violence are successfully used to prevent people from speaking, or at least to make it so difficult as to discourage others in the future, and

b) the police is acquiescing in this circus, effectively demanding protection money to take action against the other gang.

It’s OK (well, it’s not OK, but it’s at least conceivable) where the organisers have deep pockets and can afford to pay $68 or however many thousand, but what about any normal, non-commercial events? To paraphrase the left, freedom of speech for all, not just the rich.

Remember: these are not events like music concerts or sporting games, where the police force gets reimbursed by the organisers for their time directing traffic and making sure that drunks don’t urinate on the sidewalk; these are political events whose organisers and attendees are at risk of physical harm and property damage, not to mention of having their (in Australia, implied) constitutional rights denied by people who are prepared to break law to achieve their ends. In those sorts of circumstances, charging people for not getting punched seems like a pretty obscene misuse of police powers.

The saga, meanwhile, continues:

About 60 people have turned up to a Melbourne train station to protest against a talk being held by right-wing commentator Lauren Southern.

There was a heavy police presence at Broadmeadows train station where ticketholders for Ms Southern’s event were told to gather before being transported to the secret venue by buses.

Protesters chanted “when the fascists are in town, shut it down, shut it down” as people were directed on to the buses.

As I said before I don’t care either way for Miss Southern, but that’s not the point. In an open and democratic society like ours it’s not – it shouldn’t be – a job of “protesters” to decide who is or is not a “fascist” and accordingly censor public speech. That’s pretty much what the real, as opposed to imagined, fascists used to do in Germany in the 1920s and 30s, and it’s not a great historical precedent for the liberal Western countries like Australia to follow.

P.S. Keeps getting better and better: