We have free speech in America. Guaranteed by the Constitution, the Bill of Rights. But a First Amendment guarantee doesn’t make freedom a certainty. It’s not as if we don’t have to stand up for our rights.
But stand up to whom?
Usually, threats to free speech come from government . . . most recently, the government of the town of Southborough, Massachusetts.
The blog MySouthborough.com, run by Susan Fitzgerald, is devoted to her town, providing a platform for residents to speak out and get heard.
And there’s the rub. Sometimes people in government don’t like criticism.
Fitzgerald’s website irked local head honchos last autumn. Someone calling himself (or herself) “Marty” had commented, online, about how the town’s Police Chief Selection Committee was meeting behind closed doors. Marty suggested that committee members were breaking the state’s open meeting requirements, and insinuated that the whole process was prejudiced in favor of one particular applicant.
Sounds fairly innocuous? Not to the town’s counsel, who demanded to know “Marty’s” actual name.
Fitzgerald wouldn’t give it to him, free speech and all. The lawyer blustered about how Marty was intimidating the selection panel. A laughable claim. A blog comment is intimidation?
And then the counsel warned her — intimidating her — to watch more carefully what’s posted on her blog.
Fitzgerald remains firm. And she defends anonymous contributors. “Choosing anonymity doesn’t make their opinion any less valid,” she states.
Or any less protected.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.