Letter to the Editor: Free speech at council meetings

Dear Editor:

We perceive the world differently and are affected to varying degrees by a multitude of factors; people do not develop in a vacuum, and each is a world unto himself. As such, respect for another’s opinion or truth should be the basis on which we coexist.

Society and its politics have a powerful way of pulling at one’s inherent sense of justice, but your definition of unfair treatment may not be mine. You may carefully express your concerns in writing or speech, but I may not. Are your grievances more worthy than mine? Do my concerns, then, become gibberish to you? Not because I am not making sense, but simply because my delivery is not to your liking?

A civilized society is to protect and preserve the freedom to speak up. Yes, free speech is often uncomfortable, but what is the alternative?

At May 14th’s city council meeting, it was apparent that as a citizen you run the risk of being singled out for expressing your concerns about the city. I applaud Mr. Eric Pierce, editor of The Downey Patriot newspaper, for standing up before the representative body and stating:

“I’ve actually never addressed the city council before in my 17 years with the Patriot, but free speech and addressing the council is something that I take very seriously...and with all due respect to the mayor, I think what one person considers gibberish is really important to another person. When we start judging what’s important and what isn’t, it’s really slippery slope...I want to emphasize; I think giving the public the right to speak and to address their representatives on the city council is very important.”

To the mayor and council, exercise creativity to circumvent undesirable outcomes. Exercise leadership in de-escalating tension and conflict. Exhaust your options until you have to start again, but never silence a single person that you represent.

Jay Ell
Downey