Freedom of speech is a two-way street
To the Editor:
One of our greatest freedoms as Americans is the right to free speech, which of course is guaranteed by the First Amendment to our Constitution. We all have the right to form our own opinion on any matter and then express that opinion freely. However, what some people seem to forget is that while everyone has a right to freely express their opinion, everyone else has the right to agree or disagree.
A good example of that is at City Council meetings. While I don’t speak for the mayor and other City Council members, I know for sure that all of us work hard to do our homework on all issues that come before the council. We do our research and ask lots of questions in order to become fully informed before voting to make the decision that is best for the citizens of Edmond. Citizens are allowed, and even encouraged, to express their opinions at council meetings and those opinions are listened to and considered carefully. In a June 11 letter to the editor titled “Sister City relationship suspect,” Bill O’Hare implies otherwise.
At the May 14 City Council meeting, the council considered a proclamation to form a sister city relationship with Engles, Russia. This was not something that just came up out of the blue. It’s a program that had been in the works for several years and was sponsored by many prominent city leaders and organizations.
As Mr. O’Hare points out in his letter, a few people showed up to express their disagreement with the program, and that is certainly appropriate and within their rights. Former Edmond Mayor Carl Reherman introduced the Sister City Program and six individuals spoke against it. They were allowed to speak and fully express their opinion, a process that went on for almost an hour. At the end, I spoke for a few minutes in favor of the program and why I thought they were wrong.
But don’t take my word for it. Go to the city’s website at www.edmondok.com and watch the video of the May 14 City Council meeting and decide for yourself. It’s the first hour of the meeting.
The problem, at least for them, was that although they spoke and presented their argument, nobody agreed with them. The council approved the proclamation with a vote of 5-0.
As is always the case in our country, everyone is allowed to speak out and everyone else can decide to agree or not. We decided to disagree. That is far different than suggesting we did not allow discussion of the topic. To suggest that the council did not consider all factors and the opinions of the citizens of Edmond is simply not true. A small number of people didn’t like the decision, but a far greater number thought otherwise. That is the beauty of freedom of speech.
NICK MASSEY is the Ward 4 City Councilman.