Despite the fact that there are no visible signs of “hate groups” causing any problem in Jacksonville, members of the City Council are launching a crusade against them.

What they propose to do is a mystery.

Hate groups are a particular concern with liberals, although it is a bit tricky for them.

The premier hate group probably is the Ku Klux Klan, which was the de facto paramilitary arm of the Democrat Party in the last part of the 19th century. Democrats were furious about the Republicans freeing the slaves, and began killing and terrorizing black Americans through the Klan.

Wednesday, council members attending a “lunch and learn workshop” were lectured by someone from the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that has a fixation on organizations it designates as hate groups.

The SPLC claims there are 68 hate groups active in Florida. In addition to the seemingly ever-present Klan, those active in Jacksonville include the black Nation of Islam and the New Black Panther Party for Self Defense, which it says “is a bigoted, anti-white, anti-Semitic Black Nationalist group that preaches hate toward the LGBT and Jewish communities and holds beliefs rooted in the teachings of Nation of Islam.”

The committee did not cite any examples of any crimes anyone in any of these groups had committed, or what problems they have caused.

But they connected them in general with “hate speech.”

The meeting was billed as an effort “to provide a forum to discuss Hate Demonstrations and Public Discourse, Hate Crime, Hate Crime Symbols, Hate on Display, imagery of hate crime symbols, use thereof in public meetings, and other topics thereto pertaining.”

In trying to make a connection between hate groups and hate speech, apparently, the leader of the workshop, LeAnna Cumber, made herself appear rather foolish.

She presented a video from an earlier City Council meeting, featuring a man speaking during the public hearing. He called the mayor a “crook” while speaking against the Lot J redevelopment proposal.

He also made a gesture that Cumber linked with hate speech, (while ignoring the somewhat hateful comments about the mayor).

Here is the gesture:

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Here are photos of others making the gesture.

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The linkage also was “missing context,” as so-called fact-checkers like to say. The speaker had just said “President Trump forever” as he made the gesture, which any rational person would interpret as a sign of support for the president.

Although no one mentioned it, the Democrat Party might be the largest hate group in America, if measured in terms of its attitude toward a former president of the United States. Even as the workshop was taking place, an illegal “impeachment trial” was being held in the U.S. Senate for the purpose of removing someone from an office he does not hold.

It was suggested by one of the local speakers that the council might consider limitations on speech during public hearings.

Whether any council members will pursue legislation or council rules changes in that direction was not clear.

Indeed, the intent and purpose of the meeting is unclear. Absent any showing of any threat to public safety from what appear to be small groups of people with fringe views, what is the need for such a gathering?

It has the appearance of having political overtones, or simply being busywork.

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Lloyd was born in Jacksonville. Graduated from the University of North Florida. He spent nearly 50 years of his life in the newspaper business …beginning as a copy boy and retiring as editorial page editor for Florida Times Union. He has also been published in a number of national newspapers and magazines, as well as Internet sites. Married with children. Military Vet. Retired. Man of few words but the words are researched well, deeply considered and thoughtfully written.

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