Free speech 101 and the AB School Committee's violation

A few days ago, some neo-Nazis and White Supremacists tried to hold a march in Charlottesville, VA, and were prevented from doing so on a pretext. The pretext was the concern over crowd control, but the real reason was to suppress their members' and supporters' free-speech rights. Americans must be allowed to speak freely, not only because it is in the Constitution, but also because it is the right thing to do.

Free speech makes democracy work. It ensures that when you vote, you have heard (if you cared to listen to) all available arguments. It ensures that government does not control the information you have in order to vote, or to think.

I've been a member of the ACLU for many years, despite the ACLU's ridiculous stand on many issues. Promoting and defending free speech is why.

Allowing deplorable speech is super important in this instance because preventing such speech can lead to violence. I don't condone violence, I am trying to prevent it. You are much more likely to prevent it by allowing such speech because it gives an outlet to people with such views to express them with words instead of deeds.

Private individuals can walk away from speech with which they disagree. It's like if you don't agree with what's on TV, turn the channel. But having the government prevent the broadcast is unacceptable.

Once neo-Nazis are allowed to speak, they will find that they don't have much support. Let's say it is 0.1% of the population. In a country of 300 million, that's 300,000 people. That is a lot of potential terrorists, provocateurs, rabble-rowsers, and what have you. I'd rather they have their meetings and hold their events under the protection of our Constitution, free of government harassment, than in someone's basement under darkness, working on plots to overthrow the government because they have convinced themselves that the only reason they aren't in power is because of government suppression, and not a fundamental lack of public support.

What makes us so different from people in countries with suppressive regimes is free speech.

We all need to support free speech in order to keep our democracy strong. Unfortunately, I have personally been the victim of our local government's suppression of my First Amendment's right to free speech.

A few weeks ago, I was publicly slandered by the AB School Committee. They handed out and read a statement at a meeting which I attended which mentioned me by name as well as others. They referred to my actions as "misconduct" which is a lie. They had several other statements that were false or intentionally misleading. I guess we now know, from how they treated our former Superintendent and then lied about it to all the citizens of Acton and Boxborough, that this is normal behavior for them. If so, it cannot be allowed to continue.

They refused to allow me to speak, even to correct their unfair lies and innuendos, under threat of arrest. I'm not kidding, this was pretty bad. I took photos of the two police officers who were at the meeting, evidently at the invitation of the SC, one of whom followed me up to the podium and stood behind me as I tried to defend myself. I was not allowed to speak. Later on during the meeting, they invited public participation so their control of my speech was obviously about its content. This is a clear and intentional violation of my rights.

I filed a complaint and will give them time to respond. I have publicly asked that several School Committee members resign their seats and hope that by the end of the summer, more do. If not, I plan to make an issue of this violation of my rights, on top of all the other issues we already know about related to their illegal meetings and their public lies to coverup their misconduct. I will likely ask for personal liability for anyone who remains on the SC who was responsible for this conduct. I would like to see Amy Krishnamurthy and Mary Brolin resign immediately, but will then see if there were other supporters of the four ringleaders who also need to go. Was it on Game of Thrones that I recently heard the phrase that we had to get rid of them all "root and branch"?

Let me give some advice to our School Committee members who think they can trample on the U.S. Constitution and its First Amendment: Don't violate someone's rights to free speech when they own a very big soapbox and are holding a huge megaphone.

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Comments

Alan, I was not aware that

Alan, I was not aware that the School Committee actually threatened to arrest you merely for speaking. That is outrageous. If you do sue them, I would gladly contribute to your legal fund. Thanks for holding their feet to the fire, and for being so vigilant about all the goings-on in Town government. Nijan

Free Speech

Just amazing! The Acton Police should not be in attendance at a School Committee meeting period in my opinion. And most certainly all citizens in a democracy should be allowed to speak freely. Here we have a case where the SC has wasted $200,000 or taxpayers money, bullied a Superintendent out of town without public discussion and now is using taxpayer funded police force dollars to control free speech. Sign me up for any petition or coverage of Acton SC meetings to defend out right to free speech and remove those who deny it.

Free Speech

Thank you for taking this whole issue on. It is an important issue from many viewpoints. We, the people, can't tolerate wholesale disregard for state law and constitutional rights. I admire your persistence, logic, and, simultaneously, your professionalism in pursuit of the truth. Public officials need to be held accountable for their actions, good or bad.