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Thursday, May 26, 2022
ArlingtonOpinionLetter: Hijacking public meetings not a protected right

Letter: Hijacking public meetings not a protected right

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Editor: I don’t disagree that feeling threatened (or disrespected) shouldn’t be used as a weapon to silence people, as stated in the Sun Gazette’s Nov. 18 editorial about school boards.

However, it’s not unreasonable to expect people to sign up to speak in an orderly fashion at board meetings, and to remain silent when others are speaking.

There are ways of making a point without infringing on others’ rights and being uncivil. You can bring signs or whatever, to make a point. You can clap after someone with whom you agree speaks. We in the opposition do it all the time here in Arlington.

But allowing meetings to devolve into shouting matches (or worse) isn’t free speech. It’s an abuse of the process, and no one group should be permitted to hijack a meeting by being loud and belligerent. Respect for others’ First Amendment rights is just as important as protecting one’s own right.

These folks have ZERO respect for other people. It’s only about them and getting their way through intimidation and making threats. That’s not free speech; they have no First Amendment right to enter a meeting room and take over the meeting.

Suzanne Smith Sundburg, Arlington

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