Paladino violated the people’s trust
As a lifelong defender of First Amendment freedoms, I have some sympathy for Carl Paladino’s right to free speech. I am dismayed, however, by those who find this right absolute, defend it as “private” opinion and defend his elected seat on the School Board as unimpeachable. I am discouraged by defense of Paladino as he may be “right” about the “corrupt” board and he is doing good work for the people of Buffalo.
I look at this another way. Paladino can exercise his rights all he wants as a citizen. He can hold office, combat the waste and shortcomings of the School Board and be obnoxious in many ways. What he does not have is the right to be on a public board and express views that savage the dignity, pride and fragile youth of those whom the board is charged with caring for.
We all have to interact with those who differ from us. The problem arises when those views are held by someone in elected office, someone in charge of spending public funds to equally educate or care for dependent citizens, or when it appears that such racist and violent views may interfere with the sober, fair judgments that office calls for.
Additionally, citizens have rights. Are not the rights of black (or all) students at risk when they are governed by a person making the remarks Paladino made? What rights of his allow for the children of Buffalo to know that a member of the School Board thinks and speaks the way he does about a presidential couple who stand for the dignity that students should emulate? What parent/taxpayer should be forced to send children to a school partially governed by such hate and venom?
Paladino can have his freedoms – away from an office of sensitive public trust.
Richard F. Rockford