Our Mayor makes no secret of his antipathy to Crotonblog for exercising its right of freedom of speech in criticizing him and his administration. A disturbing incident that occurred as recently as Sunday, July 29th, in the Black Cow coffee house bears close scrutiny.
We have it on reliable authority—from a person who was very much present when the incident occurred—that Mayor Greg Schmidt, speaking in a very loud voice and obviously agitated, “accused Crotonblog and other blogs of leading to the demise of society.” In high dudgeon, the Mayor added, “Crotonblog was tearing up the social fabric of Croton and ruining people’s lives with libelous statements.” According to our informant, “the Mayor was very loud and fast-talking, and people were staring at him. He continued to yell … even as he was leaving and the door was closed and [he] was walking to his car in the parking lot.”
It ill behooves our politically ambitious Mayor, who refuses to acknowledge Crotonblog’s questions and who does not respond to e-mail messages sent to him, to pretend to be a judge of the effect of blogs and other technological advances upon our society. We would also remind the Mayor that the First Amendment is still in force in the Constitution, although one of his supporters has made the extraordinary suggestion that it does not apply to small-town politics.
In a comment to the latest Croton Follies, the seventh in a satirical series, attorney Seth Davis suggested that the First Amendment does not apply in a small village of 7,000 souls. He has made an extraordinary demand—a demand that Crotonblog summarily rejects: Because Croton officials live and work locally, Mr. Davis says that critical comments should not be made about their actions or pronouncement simply to spare their feelings. Is he suggesting that criticism of Mayor Schmidt would be acceptable if he were employed in the city at, say, J.P. Morgan Chase, but that he should be immune to criticism because he is a local chiropractor? Or that Chappaqua residents cannot criticize Bill or Hillary Clinton because they are neighbors and occasionally shop locally?
Crotonblog suggests that the next time the Mayor is pledging allegiance to the flag he should glance to his right at the framed artwork displayed on the wall. It is a copy of Norman Rockwell’s painting from the cover of the Saturday Evening Post of February 20, 1943, exemplifying one of America’s great freedoms, freedom of speech, then under attack by Germany and Japan. We suggest that Mr. Davis as well could also profitably study its message, especially since it was his son at whom the Mayor’s irresponsible and vituperative tirade was directed with the intention of intimidating him.
Crotonblog has no intention of allowing itself to be intimidated or muzzled by any local small-time politician, regardless of where they live or what manner of work they engage in. Any society that would give up even a small measure of its ability to speak freely to spare a politician’s feelings deserves the government it gets as a result.