Kodiak Daily Mirror - Ordinance would turn Borough meetings into Sunday school
Ordinance would turn Borough meetings into Sunday school
by Jeff Stewart
Jul 11, 2014 | 238 views | 0 0 comments | 5 5 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In the July 3 Borough Assembly meeting, Ordinance NO. FY2014-20, a measure to abridge the freedom of speech in assembly meetings was discussed.

Under the guise of “proper decorum,” the Borough Assembly proposes to disfranchise any expression of opinion that is inconsistent with speech that is “appropriate, proper behavior in society.”

(To illustrate decorum, my dictionary has a picture of an eight- or ten-year-old girl in a frock, sitting at a table, smiling, and eating a dish of ice cream.)

Proper decorum is undefined in the ordinance, at least as far as I can tell.

And if anybody is deemed as saying anything “insulting” or “abusive,” the presiding assembly official must “act immediately” to “correct” them.

In short, it appears that Borough Assembly meetings are now to be modeled after children’s Sunday school classes. Furthermore, any assembly member may interrupt an audience speaker and, with a consensus of assembly members present, elect not to hear any further comment by that speaker.

So, for example, were I to choose to address the Borough Assembly and began my presentation with the words, “I view this ordinance as pure crap,” (which likely meets the requirement of being offensive to some at the meeting), I could be told to cease my remarks and sit down.

Is this manner of governance consistent with the democratic principles of an adult, free society?

Whereas I was present at the (somewhat embarrassing) assembly meeting that gave rise to this proposed ordinance and whereas I am sympathetic to its objectives, turning Assembly meetings into Sunday School classes as this ordinance seeks to do, I believe to be both unproductive and inconsistent with First Amendment free speech guarantees, which, I expect, the Borough attorney has already told assembly members.

Jeff Stewart

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