I am ending a couple of decades of intense political participation in Fayette County. It has been an honor to serve our hard-working citizens. I have often found myself defending local citizens from their government.
Thank you, Chairman Maxwell, for providing the openness in our Board of Commissioners meetings that our citizens deserve. I have never demanded that any elected official cast a vote on an issue contrary to their own beliefs. However, what I have consistently demanded is an open and fair process for proposing ideas, defending positions and allowing citizen access to local government.
I state as mere fact, not as a boast, that I have notably guided the most meaningful attempts at allowing citizens to have active participation in government and government meetings. In both jurisdictions where I have governed, there has been an open floor to citizens, allowing public speech on all agenda items with no time limitations. That is almost unheard of in political settings at any level.
I have also been an outspoken advocate for the personal liberty of ALL citizens, not just some people who tend to agree with my views. There is no shame in my heart or mind for fervently defending free speech and expression as it is the cornerstone of our liberty.
There is a movement afoot to restrict speech in the United States. It is even happening in Fayette County. People or groups who claim to be offended by someone’s speech are now claiming that they should be able to prohibit such speech, at the end of the government’s gun, if necessary.
The United States Constitution guarantees that the best remedy against speech you find offensive is your own freedom of speech to respond in-kind.
Obviously, I cringed at the arguments of some of our citizens who demanded that a proclamation for the local Sons of the Confederacy group not be allowed in one of our board meetings. Our board meetings are the public forum for the entire citizenry of Fayette County, not just a chosen few. If the Board of Commissioners allows an open platform for public expression, that could very well include some speech that others may find offensive.
As commissioners we can certainly refuse to sign a particular proclamation or even publicly question content within such a document. In my decades of being a political servant, I have only twice said I would refuse to sign a proclamation based upon factual errors that I perceived to be in the document. Those were the Sons of the Confederacy (2012) and the Fayette County NAACP.
Let me remind you that I stated that I would not sign the proclamations and I did NOT say that I would support them not being presented. All organizations have the same rights in the public forum. In those two instances, both organizations voluntarily changed the language in the proclamations and I gladly signed both of them.
With the recent Sons of the Confederacy proclamation, some Fayette County residents found the organization itself to be emotionally offensive and I certainly understand their positions based on their race and perspective on American history. However, the organization possesses the same rights to freedom of expression in the public forum as any other organization in our nation.
Insincerity abounds when some people demanding the censorship of others’ expression openly support public expression that many find offensive.
I am saddened when some Fayette citizens demand the formation of a committee to decide who or what organization can express themselves in the public county meetings, as long as they control the committee and, of course, only their sense of what is offensive is to count. Such oppressive and dictatorial proposals erode the core of what makes our nation the finest place to live in the world.
With urgency, I implore all of our citizens to stand and critically defend everyone’s right to free expression. The radical left is attempting to dismantle freedom of expression, claiming that an offensive comment even by the smallest of gestures, referred to as microaggressions, should not be allowed and should be interpreted as violence, which calls for the use of government force or violent “self-defense” actions to halt the perceived offensive expression.
If you want to ruin our nation, start following the politicians who want to dismantle our rights. Unfortunately, what most miss by virtue of not taking a deep dive into history is that the ones who fight the hardest for oppression are often destroyed by their own eventually, the natural course of things when your rights have been removed.
I am also saddened when many of our young people who have nothing more than a superficial knowledge of history point to socialist or communist nations as examples of where we need to be moving our nation. Their young minds are being derailed by post-modernist thought which claims there are no such things as facts and that dividing the population through identity politics is a noble cause.
We all have choices. We can critically defend our freedoms, or we can watch them wither away. Relying on government to solve our problems is not the answer as government generally creates more problems than it resolves.
In closing, I believe the greatest compliment an elected official can receive is when those of opposite party, belief or what have you say, “You kept your word, defended the citizens, showed impartiality, were knowledgeable on the issues and even though we disagreed at times, I think you always had the best interest of all citizens at heart.” I have been told these comments many times and I believe that is about as good as it gets for an elected official.
Again, it has been an honor to serve the hard-working citizens of Fayette County.
Fayette County Commission District 3
Peachtree City, Ga.