A Facebook note by Betsy Driver, published October 26, 2018 – www.facebook.com/notes/a-better-fit-for-flemington-driver-runion-giles-mccormick/the-redeveloper-and-the-first-amendment/492222797947997/
The First Amendment of the United States Constitution protects the right to free speech. This applies to everyone. While the 1st Amendment protects people from the government restricting speech – it does not protect private individuals from having their speech restricted on Facebook groups or other places. For instance, no one can enter your private space and start yelling disagreeable things at you just like you can’t yell FIRE! in a movie theater. Only the government can violate your right to free speech.
As an LGBTI person who has devoted my life to raising awareness and advocating for the right of all human beings to be accepted for who they are and live their lives true to their selves, I am acutely aware of the power of speech to do harm and inflict pain and suffering and have been on the receiving end of the most vile form of speech. However, I would never call for the government to suppress anyone’s right to express themselves, because it has been the protection of the right to free speech that has allowed people such as myself to advocate for equality, for humanity, and it is the freedom of speech that ensures our Democracy.
I have been a vocal critic of a redevelopment project in the Borough that many, many other residents are passionately opposed to, and that I believe will be detrimental to our community. I have also been a vocal critic of the political motivations that tarnished the process by which this project was handled, and resulted in it tearing our community apart. This did not have to happen, and happened because of the current leadership. As an elected official, it is my DUTY to speak out against what I think is wrong. It’s also my duty to share that Mr. Cust asked for an $18million bond from the taxpayers in Fredericksburg to fund his proposed Diamond Nation there.My posts about it are based upon publicly available documents and news articles in the local media there. I stand by my comments about what occurred in Fredericksburg and what it means for the future of Flemington.
It is unconscionable, reprehensible, and offensive to all people, everywhere, that Mr. Jack Cust would suggest our Borough council enact an illegal ordinance to suppress first amendment rights of elected officials because it is interfering with his profits and the profits of the monied individuals that stand to profit at the expense of our quality of life. As the campaign seeking a better fit for Flemington has alerted voters to the dangers of our current administration and the proposed development, it should be a red flag to everyone that a developer is suggesting an assault on the first amendment by asking Borough Council to restrict the right to free speech by its elected officials.
As even the Mayor knows, any such ordinance would be illegal, unconstitutional, and subject the Borough to legal action.
We have a national environment that is attacking free speech from the top down and it’s a dangerous road to travel. Let’s not let that happen in Flemington by allowing a redeveloper to get his people on Council to enact an illegal ordinance. Nor should we allow a redeveloper to bully his opponents by threatening their constitutional right to free speech by asking a governing body to restrict it. If this is what he will do to get his mayor re-elected, imagine what he will do in the future to Borough residents who have something bad to say about him.
Please remember to vote on November 6.