Don’t sti­fle dis­cus­sion of is­sues

The Calvert Recorder - - Community Forum - Kip At Lee, Hunt­ing­town

In our fer­vor to sup­port our own views, we can’t for­get that our right to do so ob­li­gates us to re­spect those same rights for oth­ers.

I was dis­heart­ened by news­pa­per re­ports that a Mary­land state se­na­tor, now seek­ing an­other of­fice in a sis­ter county, has called for cen­sure of Sen. Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. (D-Calvert, Charles, Prince Ge­orge’s) be­cause he ex­pressed his views about the re­moval of Chief Jus­tice Roger Taney’s statue from our state capi­tol grounds. It’s dis­heart­en­ing when a state leader who clearly ex­pects his own right to free speech to be un­fet­tered seeks to si­lence some­one else who ex­er­cises that same right.

There is no pre­text that hate speech or fight­ing words were in­volved, or other mat­ters that might jus­tify lim­i­ta­tion of free speech. Sen. Miller’s let­ter was in ex­er­cise of his re­spon­si­bil­i­ties as a mem­ber of the Mary­land State House Trust. Re­gard­less of one’s view about whether the statue should have been moved or not, it would be dif­fi­cult to ar­gue that Sen. Miller’s let­ter was any­thing other than a tem­per­ate, rea­soned doc­u­ment fo­cused on en­cour­ag­ing a full and in­formed dis­cus­sion of a matter of im­por­tance to all our cit­i­zens. (I en­cour­age any­one to read it at www.scribd. com/doc­u­ment/356959267/ Let­ter-to-Gov­er­nor-Ho­gan#from_em­bed.)

We should welcome any sim­i­larly re­spon­si­ble dis­agree­ment with the sub­stance of the let­ter, but not an at­tempt to sup­press dis­cus­sion. At an ex­ceed­ingly dif­fi­cult time in our na­tion’s progress to­ward “a more per­fect union,” at­tempts to limit dis­cus­sion in such a way do a dis­ser­vice to us all.

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