Wednesday, May 10, 2017
SAB Commissioner GARY SNODGRASS Responds to Columnist Steve Cotreell on Free Speech Rights
Posted May 10, 2017 12:02 am
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR:
Civility’s tough to legislate
Editor: This is in response to Mr. Cottrell’s recent editorial about government legislating manners.
What is civility and why is it important in public discourse? Civility is the way we treat each other. It is treating one another with respect even when we disagree. Freedom of expression versus respect for fellow participants in the democratic process presents an interesting conundrum. Should we not strive, though, for both? Why should freedom of speech and civility be mutually exclusive?
I value freedom of speech. I support it. I encourage it. I desire robust discussion of issues about the health, safety and welfare of our citizens. Commission meetings are held for conducting city business. Reasonable rules of decorum that promote freedom of speech and civility should guide the conduct of the meetings to ensure we carry out efficiently and effectively the business of our citizens.
Tensions can run high on local issues but lately it seems that the state of public discourse has reached a sad low. All of us, including city commissioners, have the responsibility of listening to others respectfully, exercising self-control, considering all viewpoints, focusing on the issues and avoiding personalization of the debate. I challenge commissioners and citizens alike to pursue these goals.
I doubt civility can be regulated, but perhaps it can be inspired by adopting common sense meeting rules which are consistent with the United States Constitution. In the end, can civility be legislated? Maybe not. According to Aristotle, virtuous behavior must be voluntary and civility is a form of virtuous behavior. But shouldn’t we aspire to achieve both free expression and civility?
S. Gary Snodgrass
City Commissioner – City of St. Augustine Beach, FL
S. Gary Snodgrass
Those who have rejected the polite restraint component of political correctness have apparently decided that civility is overrated. In their juvenile minds, boorish behavior is not only a legitimate exercise of their First Amendment rights (as it surely is), but an admirable one as well. As conservative pundit George Will has long described it, we witness every day such examples of "the coarsening of America."
Coming from the Commissioner who does NOT OBEY the RULES !
WOW........................... another AWESOMENESS on Steroids Moment in the City of Dysfunction Junction 32080 !