Wednesday, November 21, 2007
The Sneakthief of Liberty
"The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."- Justice Louis Brandeis
It was not on the Final Agenda for the City Council last night, or I would have been there to speak against it. Instead, Mayor Dan Coody pulled another last minute maneuver to amend an ordinance without advance notice, public comment, or adequate consideration and deliberation by the Council.
Coody's amendment allows for a person to be removed from any city board by Council Resolution, proposed by any alderman or the mayor, if anyone is offended by "abusive comments" made during discussion. What kind of political correctness nonsense is that? Polite and inoffensive discussion is nice, but should it be mandated by law?
We need vigorous, passionate, wide-open discussion of controversial public issues, and we need public servants with the courage to express their positions. There is no right not to be offended by what someone says, but now Fayetteville has made it an offense to offend by words in the course of performing public service. This opens the door for insidious viewpoint discrimination and a pretext for removing board members who disagree with the Mayor or his political supporters and financial backers.
Mayor Coody can be glad that the ordinance doesn't provide for the removal of a mayor who makes abusive comments to or about elected members of the City Council.