Each of us has a constitutional right to swear about — and even at — police. I applaud Brandy Fortson’s exercise of their civil liberties. It is disappointing to see Fortson resign but understandable given our community's lackluster response and failure to stand by a valuable, duly-elected school board member.
I would’ve expected the board to unequivocally defend and champion free speech. Instead, the board "pinched its nose” in initially distancing itself from Fortson; updating its social media guidelines was just another ipso facto incrimination of Fortson, who had already and preliminarily defined their Twitter account as personal.
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What does the board’s retroactive, overly-regulatory response teach our children? Nothing they haven't already learned, that expressing potentially unpopular opinions or worse — being a member of a protected class or defending the poor or unjustly policed — will get you ostracized and vilified, and, further, adults in power will not have your back in such matters and during times of crisis. Unnecessarily meek, misguided, and not exactly laudable lessons from a school board, in my opinion.
I also expect our police to swiftly protect Fortson and their family, as they would each and every member of our community. Will those who levied threats be prosecuted for these crimes? Serious treatment of these alleged crimes would lend credibility to Chief Sassaman's perfunctory statement supporting free speech. It is the right thing to do, it is the law, and it would help rebuild trust in our community, especially now while there is a public light being shined on us.
Corvallis (Nov. 10)