Freedom of Speech: It’s Not “Freedom From Speech You Dislike”

I keep asking myself why this topic keeps coming up.  Certainly it was not the “Anything But Coughlin” signs.  Coughlin is more than prepared to respond to such things.

Ask yourselves what is worse-anonymous speech or people in positions of authority who use these positions in an attempt to bully people into silence?  Here’s a hint-anonymous speech is protected in the State of Georgia(more below).

How many people have come to me and told me that the Mayor of our City has made one disparaging remark after another about me.  That’s his prerogative of course.  People who know me know better.  And when he tells people that know me these sorts of things, do you think those that know me and know my principles actually believe it? 

There is the time after the John Bradberry-Vicki Horton Runoff debate two years ago where the Mayor of our City sought me out in a crowded room to make the comment to me that follows:

“I look forward to making your life a living hell the next four years”. 

Free speech? Something else?

I’ll let you decide.  

Then candidate and now Council Member Bradberry knows not only what was said to me, but stated to me that the Mayor came to him after I left the building and asked  “Did your friend tell you what I said?”

Council Member Zaprowski, near the height of the “anonymous troll hunt”  was approached by me to talk to his friend and supporter Tom Warren about repeatedly accusing me of posting under fake Facebook names.  Did knowing a name make a difference?

He took a pass and told me to speak to him myself. 

The Johns Creek Post had a series of IP addresses with pseudonyms from some of the individuals screaming the loudest about anonymous comments.  

Here’s an idea:  Lay out an unemotional argument on the merits of what you have been challenged on and post where you choose and leave it at that.

Our residents are smart.  Very smart.  They will cut through the nonsense and the BS and they won’t need your help to figure it out.  

These are the very reasons some in our community choose to remain anonymous within our community while making comments.  Who wants to be bullied?  Who wants to be questioned about why they have a certain candidate’s sign in their yard?  Who wants to be pushed for an endorsement?

Just to make it clear, protected free speech does include the use of false identification to avoid social ostracism, to prevent discrimination and harassment and to protect privacy.

Please see ACLU VS. Miller:  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/American_Civil_Liberties_Union_v._Miller

The Georgia General Assembly passed legislation that eliminated rights to privacy when using the internet in the State of Georgia. Governor Zell Miller signed the legislation into law in April 1996. Several internet based groups that guaranteed privacy to their users sought to have the law overturned on constitutional grounds, and enlisted the support of civil liberties groups such as the ACLU.[1]

Decision

After the plaintiff could prove likelihood of success of merits, substantial threat of irreparable injury, balance of hardships, and the promotion of the public interest, the court awarded the plaintiff with a preliminary injunction. Thus the defendant was enjoined from enforcing the newly passed act and was forced to revoke it. This act was found to be unconstitutional and in violation of the Bill of Rights.[2]

Either get the Constitution changed or find another venue to address your issues over anonymous posters.  This issue has already been resolved in the State of Georgia. 

It is in the best interest of the Public overall, and your constituents, that they always have the freedom and the right to post anonymously.  

It’s time to lead by example rather than by intimidation.

There is no better place than to start with this Council today.

Why wait?

Ernest Moosa