Tonawanda News

Opinion

September 18, 2012

CONFER: The assault on free speech

(Continued)

So, in response to that long-simmering complaint, city attorney Joe Pelych crafted a law that – just like post-9/11 terrorism efforts —uses one incident to justify government actions that would wipe out over 200 years of civilized liberty. Under the proposed law, the city would provide “a designated public forum for individuals and groups to exercise their free speech rights.” It said that “it shall be unlawful for any individual or group of individuals to gather, remain, walk or stand upon any given street or sidewalk in the City of Hornell to protest, support or exercise free speech by voice, sign or any other means unless they are in the designated area as defined by law.” To that end, it required that anyone interested in speaking in that area needed to first file an application with the Mayor’s office and that they could not use voice amplifiers unless authorized. Violators would have been hit with $250 in fines or 15 days in jail.

Basically, the law would have abridged the freedom of speech to the point that any parties in disagreement with the government would first have to petition that government for the right to peaceful assembly in protest of that government in a public setting. The Council could, at its whim, deny assembly and arrest anyone involved in the unpermitted expression of supposedly-free speech. Not to sound clichéd, but that’s what you’d expect out of North Korea or Nazi Germany. The Founding Fathers must have been rolling in their graves.

Luckily, common sense prevailed. A few dozen people protested the rule and Mayor Shawn Hogan and his council struck the proposal in the Law and Ordinance Committee. But, even so, they definitely had the intent to push the law: Why did it get as far as it did, to the written stage, and not just stay a bad idea? They even matter-of-factly compared it to the designated free speech zones around political conventions. But, a whole city as a free (read “restricted”) speech zone?

Text Only
Opinion
  • duvall, eric.jpg DUVALL: On lines blurred, crossed and nonexistent It strikes me more and more how blurry the lines have gotten in all facets of our world, large and small.

    July 28, 2014 1 Photo

  • Tucker, Barbara.jpg TUCKER: Oh, the joys of Sound Off Never thought the words "Thank goodness for Sound Off" would ever be printed here.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • adamczyk, ed.jpg ADAMCZYK: And now for something completely different... Last weekend I attended a local movie theater (a plushy, posh experience; they design these places now to get you out of your living room and away from your home electronics) to watch the sun set on the British Empire.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • OUR VIEW: Arson suspect never deserved bail Two of the 11 fires reported on Fifth Avenue could have been prevented with some jurisprudence in evaluating whether the suspect, Michelle Johnston, deserved to be offered bail. Given the obvious nature of a repeat offender who was charged with nine felony arson counts, bail never should have been offered in this case.

    July 25, 2014

  • wallace, amy.jpg WALLACE: Too much information? Is there such a thing as TMI or too much information anymore? Some might say yes.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • duvall, eric.jpg DUVALL: On reading and the lack thereof It was surprising to me a few weeks ago when a friend asked a group of us to estimate how many books we have each read over the last five years. The English teacher said 200 and he far and away led the pack. I was probably the median and my number was 20-25.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • confer, bob.jpg CONFER: A Con-Con would be a con game

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • duvall, eric.jpg DUVALL: Conflict in Ukraine now a concern of global proportions It seems increasingly clear Ukrainian separatists, with the help from the Russian military, are responsible for the tragedy. They, of course, have denied it. They've also denied access to the crash site to international investigators seeking to recover the dead and determine what happened. That's not something the innocent party does.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADAMCZYK: Personal development, rendered in steel Accepting the premise that everyone needs to fill the same amount of time every day (24 hours, every day), some people use theirs rebuilding things, tangible things, and thus fulfill a few intangible goals.

    July 18, 2014

  • WALLACE: Festival season is underway Summer is the season of fairs and festivals. From Canal Fest in the Tonawandas to the Allentown Art Festival and Italian Heritage Festival in Buffalo to the Erie County Fair in Hamburg, the Western New York area has no shortage of things to do with the family over the summer.

    July 17, 2014