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Letters — Wednesday (7-16-14)

Mac Butner should be able to practice free speech
At the county commission meeting on July 7, Scott Teamer was quoted as saying “A public official has to be socially responsible outside.”
This raises questions. First, what is “social responsibility” and who defines it? Secondly, where is it written as a component of a public official’s duties? And finally, does this mean public officials give up their freedom to disagree with “social responsibility” as private citizens?
First of all, “socially responsible” is a very squishy term. It’s like saying “I don’t agree with you and so you should be fired.” That’s bad enough in the private world; it is unacceptable in public service.
Secondly, official positions are defined in law and regulations, not in the opinions of individuals. As a (former) auditor, are my personal opinions relevant to my audit? I hope not. What acts or comments has Mr. Butner made as a Housing Authority board member which are discriminatory? If Mr. Teamer, the NAACP or anyone has evidence of this, they should come forward, publicly.
Finally, and this is the real issue, do public officials lose their rights to free speech when they take the job? I hope not. While I disagree with Mr. Butner and his opinions, I will defend his right, as a private citizen, to voice them.
Free speech has never been very popular, especially with those who disagree with the speaker. That’s why free, controversial speech is so important to our freedom. It’s our bulwark against “political correctness” and the extremists of both the right and left. Without freedom of speech and the rule of law, who would protect us from them?
I find it ironic that a (fairly) liberal (occasional) Democrat would be the only one defending Mr. Butner’s right to voice his private opinion, no matter how distasteful it is.
— Jack Burke
Salisbury
Don’t soak spectators
My husband and I had not been to the July 4 parade in several years, so we went with friends. Had a nice shaded yard to sit in. Had fun helping some children get candy as we sat there. Then a float came by and literally soaked me from the top of my head to my knees. What were the people in charge thinking? I am 72 years old ,and I never plan to go to the parade again. There needs to be some supervision. These water rifles need to be banned from parades.
— Betty Sifford
Salisbury

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