Colby should not be recalled for exercising First Amendment rights

| Letter to the editor from Bill Gardiner, Yarmouth |

I have now read a second article in the Portland Press Herald about a New Gloucester Selectman who was criticized and called a racist for making a comment at the end of the Pledge of Allegiance at a meeting of the Selectmen.

Wednesday’s references a most interesting statement by the Town Manager, Brenda Fox Howard.  The Press Herald wrote  ‘  .  .  that his pointing out a particular race “could be construed as bias” ‘.   Nothing much more needs to be said. 

Using that as the metric by which we assign racist statements, “Black Lives Matter” signs could be construed as racist.  Assuming the Town Manager’s alleged statement is accurately reported by the Press Herald, it certainly implies those signs could be construed as bias.

And, I wonder, why do those signs NOT say African American lives Matter?  Did that not fit the sign appropriately?  Not saying African Americans is racist, right? 

What has become of the First Amendment?  Mr. Colby is not denied his First Amendment rights by reason of his serving on the Board of Selectmen.  Those rights are inviolable.  End of story.  If voters don’t like him, vote him out.  Joe Biden WILL be inaugurated.  Elections have consequences.  Use the ballot box not emotion to remove an elected official.  This is America.

For the record, I am an older, white male.  In coastal areas of the country, I represent all that ails America.  I shall not list those ailments because our news reports them, all of them, all the time. 

America is deluged with symbolism, often derived from guilt, wrongly.  Removing Mr. Colby from his elected position without acknowledging his First Amendment rights is wrong.  Organize to elect or not elect him, if he runs again.  But to recall a sitting Selectman for exercising his constitutional rights will not prevent the ACLU from challenging this attempt, whether petitioners are successful or not.  New Gloucester does not need more Press Herald headlines over this Constitutionally allowable comment.

— Bill Gardiner, Yarmouth

NGX eds. note: The article Mr. Gardiner refers to was initially from the Lakes Region Weekly and its reporter Emily Bader. Bader’s December 29 article, as well as her previous articles concerning George Colby’s comments, were picked up by both the Press Herald and Sun Journal online.

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