Cable 8 Petition: Distraction or Real Issue?

Perhaps folks are wondering why I signed the petition?  As a passionate advocate of democracy, free speech, and transparency in government, I have a standing policy to sign all Citizen’s Petitions and Campaign Nomination papers, irrespective of the merits or whether I support a particular candidate.

Wrentham is governed by direct democracy.  Everyone’s voice counts. Everyone who desires it should have the opportunity to stand before the voters.

It has been argued by the show’s producers, hosts and supporters that the petition was an attempt to infringe on the “First Amendment.”

Not at all. To suggest that this petition is an infringement on anyone’s First Amendment rights is an ironic argument, to say the least. The accusation is a cynical attempt in its own right to quash speech deemed undesirable by the accusers.

Keeping it off of Town Meeting floor deprives the community, which pays for the Cable 8 facilities, of the opportunity to discuss whether a particular show benefits the community.

Worst of all. this argument attacks individuals and distracts the public from the underlying questions:

  • How DO we speak about the issues facing our community?
  • How do we sepak about the people who volunteer their time to govern our town?
  • Are the facts presented on locally produced TV shows vetted for the truth?
  • If not, is that okay?
  • Are the stories produced according to standard journalistic practices? Should they be?
  • Does the community benefit from the show?
  • And if not, what can we as a community do about it?

Some have suggested that filing the petition is tantamount to infringing on the producers’ and hosts’ rights to free speech. On the contrary, the petition invites freedom of speech by asking for an open dialog at Town Meeting.

Finally, some have asked if people should  be alarmed to see both current board members and people running for office on the petition?

Absolutely not.  Signing the petition and inviting discussion demonstrates the signatories’ commitment to open and honest debate. All public officials and candidates should be held to this standard. Regrettably, not all reach it.

Those screaming the loudest have the most to gain from maintaining the status quo in Town Hall.  By talking about “free speech” and attacking individuals, they avoid focusing on the real issues facing our community:

  • We are broke, why?.
  • The incumbents are not saying what will be cut, why?
  • Should we vote on an Override?
  • There’s no plan to create revenue, why?
  • What does this crisis say about how the town is managed?
  • Would the town be better served by new leadership?

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