Jarrod West has seen the other side of government. Instead of service with a smile, it’s no service, no smile and a slap at fundamental freedoms. He bought a house in Valley Center, Kansas, only to discover that his new neighborhood floods, regularly. It flooded again this June, long after having been promised help (he said) from the city administrator. So he put up a sign on his lawn, addressing the city:
Fix this problem
That’s what I pay taxes for.
PS. Joel This Means You!
City administrator Joel Pile was not amused. He convinced the city attorney to file defamation charges against West. Pile explained that “individuals have an absolute right to free speech. But however, when they do it and continue to do it within the realms of what we believe is actual malice for the purpose of holding me accountable to the public we believe that crosses a line. . . .”
You gotta love that “but however” segue, wherein “absolute rights” vanish after “a line” has been crossed. Plus, Pile objects to being held “accountable to the public.”
More pertinently, Pile claims that he’s not responsible, claiming that only the city council can rectify West’s flooding. That’s under dispute, and worth debating.
But if any line has been crossed, it’s been crossed by Pile and the city attorney. West ought to be free to speak, and criticize — even unjustly — his local government.
Why? That’s the foundation of a republican form of government, where citizens are in charge, and the employees are “public servants.”
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.