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Wednesday, December 7, 2011

The First Amendment: Let Freedom Ring True

The Tea Party, which seems to think they have an exclusive corner on being patriots and Constitution lovers, really show themselves when push comes to shove. The Constitution, like the Bible cannot be used as a source, weapon or shield, if the people using it, do so in a cafeteria line mentality: a little of this, no so much that, but a lot of that.

Right now, the TCU/Janice Daniels support group wants to shift blame for Janice’s latest debacle onto the messenger; It is TRUST’s fault for “digging deep” to find things. And it was the blog poster who “brought this on the city.” One councilman said, “the person that had a problem with what she posted on facebook should have come to her and talked it over.” Come on. Stop already with insulting the intelligence of the community.

Lets talk about the dissemination of information and the free press as it is provided us in the First Amendment of the Constitution.

The First Amendment states;

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

In 1938, Chief Justice Hughes defined the press as, “every sort of publication which affords a vehicle of information and opinion.” Of course, he could never have imagined the internet, but he brilliantly covered that anyway. In today’s world, as the press gets more one-sided and opinion shows and articles explode, the information that we get comes from what Supreme Court Justice William Brennan coined as the “marketplace of ideas.” The marketplace of ideas holds that “the truth or the best policy arises out of the competition of widely various ideas in a free, transparent public discourse.”

That marketplace of ideas is for ALL. When TCU members speak out at the council meetings as they have vociferously for years, they see it as meaningful and important and transparency generating. When others do the same with contrary opinions, these same TCU’ers call them liberals, whiners, old people and children. Freedom of expression is a two-way street. Janice Daniels made a conscientious adult choice to place her ideas on the very public facebook forum. Unapologetically, I might add. It was her “First Amendment right to free speech,” she stated. Her supporters say she has the right to her opinion…end of story. True, but they should also know if they read the Constitution, that it doesn’t prohibit others free speech rights to oppose her or speak for 4 hours at public comment. A little history lesson; Janice Daniels ran for mayor on transparency, posting city information for all to see on the internet, allowing for full time usage at public comment, sitting down or walking neighborhoods to listen to the people. Well, she is hearing the people all right. Or did she really just want them to listen to her? You can’t invite public participation and then only want to hear what you agree with. She expressed herself every Monday night and said many things that hurt people and she did not mind at all. It should be no surprise to her that as mayor, she would be subject to the same kind of discourse that she dished out like clockwork every week.

Janice Daniels supporters, who wish to blame the messenger for posting her own words, need to step back and review their own ideology and Constitution thumping. Funny what our Founding Fathers did; they made that document for all of us.

Author Fredrick Siebert in the Four Theories of the Press wrote; “Let all with something to say be free to express themselves. The true and sound will survive. The false and unsound will be vanquished.”

In the spirit of giving, I offer this look at the First Amendment in action in Troy. Janice Daniels 1) exercised her free speech and now must face the consequences, as is the risk one takes in a free society, 2) a free citizen exercised their right to a free press and printed the mayor’s own words in a marketplace of ideas, 3) the people of the city and beyond exercised their right to peaceably assemble and 4) the people exercised their right to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

And that is what the First Amendment is all about Charlie Brown. Let freedom ring true.

Rhonda Hendrickson

21 year Troy resident

In remembrance of my dad who passed away this summer. Thank you Charlie Brown, for giving me the gift of thinking before speaking, doing my homework and sharing our ideas even when we didn’t agree.


  1. "One councilman said, “the person that had a problem with what she posted on facebook should have come to her and talked it over.”" Which council member said that?

  2. I believe it was Dave Henderson or Wade Fleming.

    Both defended the mayor against this blog, saying essentially it was the fault of this blog for starting the whole thing.

    Clearly, many of us disagree entirely.

  3. And now one councilman is bullying the high school student who organized the protest!!!!

  4. Oh really? I should have spoken to her? I have walked right up to Janice Daniels to speak with her several times, and every time, she literally ran away. We saw what she would have said to me, the same thing she wrote a half hour after Patch broke the story:
    "Yes Kevin - the gay community calls themselves queer. I firmly support marriage as being defined as between one man and one woman and I am not going to change my position. That said, I love all people and will continue to work towards promoting a vibrant City of Troy."
    She just thought it was all very quaint.