Wood­stock stands up for First Amend­ment

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - OPINION -

Dear Ed­i­tor: Con­grat­u­la­tions to the town of Wood­stock and the Wood­stock Town Board for unan­i­mously pass­ing a free speech res­o­lu­tion. This res­o­lu­tion is the first of its kind in New York state, and per­haps in the na­tion, to stand up to a di­rect at­tack on our First Amend­ment right of free speech and its at­ten­dant right to boy­cott.

Gov. An­drew Cuomo’s Ex­ec­u­tive Or­der No. 157 of June 5, 2016, clearly tries to limit those First Amend­ment rights by im­pos­ing eco­nomic ret­ri­bu­tion on those en­ti­ties that sup­port the Boy­cott, Di­vest­ment and Sanc­tions cam­paign against Is­raeli poli­cies and its treat­ment of Pales­tini­ans. In ad­di­tion, in a way rem­i­nis­cent of the McCarthy-era black­list of sus­pected Com­mu­nists, this ex­ec­u­tive or­der cre­ates a pub­lic list of all en­ti­ties sup­port­ing the cam­paign and only al­lows for those names to be re­moved from the list by those en­ti­ties pub­licly re­nounc­ing the cam­paign.

Wood­stock Free Speech in­tro­duced the res­o­lu­tion to the Town Board on July 19 and then un­der­took a com­mu­nity ed­u­ca­tion cam­paign, in­clud­ing ex­ten­sive di­a­logue with the Town Board, which voted to pass the res­o­lu­tion on Sept. 19. In so do­ing, the board stated it makes no dec­la­ra­tion in sup­port of or in op­po­si­tion to the Boy­cott, Di­vest­ment and Sanc­tions cam­paign and, in fact, ac­knowl­edges deep, board di­vi­sions on the mat­ter.

The Town Board, much to its credit, was open to ex­plor­ing this is­sue and asked nu­mer­ous prob­ing ques­tions, many of which were an­swered by a First Amend­ment rights at­tor­ney. This was de­cided solely on the ques­tion of First Amend­ment rights and the board’s de­sire to pro­tect its ci­ti­zens against any and all abridge­ments of their civil lib­er­ties. Nic Abram­son Wood­stock

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