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Letter: Right to free speech carries consequences

Right to free speech carries consequences

Since Donald Trump ran for, and was elected, president our society has become unhinged and even more divided and devoid of common courtesy. We appear to have been given license to defend racist and other disrespectful behavior as “free speech.”

Locally, Carl Paladino has come under fire for his Artvoice submission regarding former President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle for obvious racist rants. Elsewhere, others have made “artful” displays, and comments that cross the line of decency and respect.

We may have the right to say, unfiltered, what’s on our mind, but we cannot expect to do so without incurring wrath in the court of public opinion.

When reading the First Amendment, you’ll see that there are protections so you can’t be punished for not saluting and/or burning our stars and stripes. Conversely, you will be arrested and prosecuted for yelling “fire!” in a public building where one isn’t. Publicly threatening to assassinate our president is a sure way to get the FBI knocking on your door.

While I despise and do not support what Paladino said about the Obamas, his comments were not threats to do harm. His unfortunate words were opinion.

Paladino is a public servant. Common sense should dictate that as a Buffalo School Board member who represents children of many races and ethnicity, he should be sensitive to those he represents, and be man enough to put his biases aside. (Does he forget how Italians were once badly discriminated against and negatively stereotyped?) To say that he sorely lacks empathy is an understatement. But that’s just my opinion.

For now, it would be a mature gesture on his part to put on his big boy pants and offer a public apology to his School Board peers, the parents and children, take a few courses in sensitivity training and keep his opinions to himself. Perhaps he should be censured for one school year.

Deborah L. Chambers

Tonawanda

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