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Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Rockingham County Board of Education members lashing out at free speech

An item has been placed on the agenda for the August 13th meeting of the Rockingham County Board of Education that, if approved, would limit remarks by private citizens to three minutes or less during public comments portions of the monthly meetings.

The Knight Shift blog received this information from a highly trusted source earlier this evening.

I've spent the past good bit of evening trying to find out more about this and I'm going to be making further inquiries come tomorrow morning.

As I've come to understand it, here's what's going down: at least one and possibly two members of the Board of Education placed this item on the agenda for the next meeting, and it's quite likely that this is coming as a reaction to what happened at the July 9th meeting. That was when the Board voted to rescind it's decision in April to implement school uniforms at Reidsville Middle and Reidsville High schools beginning this fall. A group of citizens - and I was one of them - calling themselves P.O.T.S.M.O.D. (People Opposed To Standard Mode Of Dress) dominated the public comments time during every meeting from April to July in protest of the policy. The July 9th meeting received considerable news coverage from most of the area's major media outlets because members of P.O.T.S.M.O.D. announced that they were going to address the Board wearing costumes and black armbands as a visible sign of defiance to the policy (the vote for which had been based on dire faulty information).

It's already public knowledge that there are some on the board who have expressed disdain for citizens' right to free speech. One member of the Rockingham County Board of Education stated aloud during the July meeting that P.O.T.S.M.O.D. and others were "bad for the community" because they used "loud noise" which "changed public opinion" about the uniforms.

What kind of elected official, so entrusted to uphold the principles of the Constitution, would try to "shut up" the constituents that he or she is sworn to serve and represent on the board?

I'm working on finding out more about this, folks. If more info comes this way, I'll be sure to share it here. But I wanted to go ahead and get the word out: some people on the Rockingham County Board of Education are actively taking steps to drown-out the public's right to speak out and participate in government as concerned citizens.

I don't know of any better way of wrapping up this post, than to present one of my all-time favorite works of art: a painting by Norman Rockwell simply titled "Freedom of Speech" ...


Anonymous said...

This comes as no surprise. Somebody had to pay a price for making the board stay late to listen to citizen complaints about SMOD.

Vigorous exercise of free speech must be regulated and controlled to prevent it from getting out of hand.

This will not be the first time the school board has used a three minute shot clock to contain the rabble.