City can’t stifle free speech

By 
Kathleen Gilluly
Thursday, December 5, 2019

From the editor’s desk

The First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

While some folks posting on Facebook about the city may have chosen more acceptable language to express themselves, they still have every right to. At Tuesday night’s City Council workshop, Council President Emelie Eaton suggested that city employees and volunteers should have their voices silenced.

When Eaton ´requested the conversation on internet protocol, I initially assumed she wanted to discuss posts on the city’s Facebook, or on the individual departments’ Facebook sites. There it makes sense to have rules guiding the language used. But she complained about posts on the mayor’s re-election Facebook site.

As a public official and someone running for office, the mayor had

no expectation of privacy, or of folks only posting positive remarks on his candidacy.

One of her complaints was that the volunteer didn’t expressly write that his posts were opinion. That was painfully clear to anyone reading them. They were reactions to real situations and just because Eaton hadn’t heard the information posted doesn’t mean there was no basis in fact.

It was fairly obvious at Tuesday’s meeting that the council isn’t advised of everything. The councilmen/women were certainly

surprised at the mayor’s decision on the fire and ambulance

departments.

It appears that the city is moving forward to fix the problems

with the ambulance department and I salute the mayor for realizing that the folks who already work or live in the city have the knowlege and expertise to guide their departments.

The Laurel Outlook

 

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