Let’s celebrate the 1st Amendment this 4th of July

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I was disappointed to hear that Police Chief Jim Owens and City Engineer Mike Moore expressed concerns over downtown events to the Newcastle City Council after I left last week’s council meeting (“Fee suggested to cover OT,” June 21, 2018, page 1). 

To be completely honest I was furious, but not just because a pair of city officals held a conversation regarding a presentation I had made to the council after I left the chambers, instead of raising their concerns while I would have been in the room to address them. Admittedly, my commitment to the under-valued playground rule that requires people to “say it to my face” probably fueled my anger (see last week’s editorial about government transparency).

But after that wore off, I started to resent the implication that Newcastle citizens were incapable of gathering safely to celebrate our heritage. 

The concerns expressed by the two department heads seemed to indicate that gatherings of residents produced potential dangers, and had to be controlled by city officials. 

That offends me.

I hope that desire to exert “control” over citizens who plan to peaceably assemble on July 4th is offensive to you as well because if we can’t exercise the rights guaranteed to us in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution on Independence Day, then we probably don’t have much reason to celebrate.

I am grateful to Mayor Deb Piana and the city council for the support they have shown to our “Newcastle Legacy Series” events, and relieved that they shot down the suggestion that a fee be assessed to defray the costs these departments incur because of such events.

Lets reward them for that faith in us by assembling downtown on July 4, and doing so peaceably. Respect the event, respect the laws that govern us, respect the officials who will be working that day and respect our community.

Another old rule that I adhere to holds that with great freedom comes great responsiblity, and I am abundantly confident in the ability of the people of Weston County to exercise personal responsibility and set an example for those who visit us that day.

So please break out your most patriotic attire and decorations, get a float ready for the parade and have a blast at the Four Way Festival that night. Celebrate our community and our country. Our right to do so will not be interfered with, and the best way to guarantee that freedom moving forward lies in exercising it responsibly. We can’t wait to show the world how much fun we can have doing it.

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