Forum

Anti-free speech is anti-American

I am a Johnson City native. I also founded and was the longtime president of Tennessee’s free market think tank. I dedicated more than a decade of my life working very publicly to develop and advance Republican policies in the Tennessee General Assembly. But I’m now disheartened by the Johnson City community and embarrassed by Republican state lawmakers.

The “resignation” of Jason Shay as coach of the ETSU men’s basketball program is evidently the result of opposition to his team kneeling during the national anthem by many leaders in Johnson City and inside the state government.

The coaches and young men who knelt did so out of a need and a desire to express their legitimate concerns about troubling issues plaguing the United States. They clearly meant no disrespect to the military or our veterans.

Still, people calling themselves “patriots” and “true Americans” attacked and condemned Shay and his team of young men for exercising their First Amendment rights.

Real patriots, however, support the First Amendment freedoms our veterans fought to preserve, and our flag and national anthem represent — even when they disagree with how those freedoms are applied.

Supporting free speech has nothing to do with encouraging actions you agree with. It’s about standing up for the rights of others to say and do things you oppose.

Nothing is less American than trying to silence speech or stop actions you disagree with. And that’s what Republicans in Tennessee, and many in the Johnson City/ETSU community have done.

DREW JOHNSON

Las Vegas, Nevada

 

Voter IDs are common requirement

Keith C. Burris’ diatribe in Wednesday’s paper (March 24) was pitiful. Stating “There is nothing more repugnant than blocking someone’s right to vote either with a literacy requirement (as in the old South) or onerous residency or ID requirement.”

Onerous ID requirement, are you kidding me? You need an ID to buy cigarettes, open a checking account, book a hotel room, buy a boat etc, etc. If you believe that voters really have a responsibility, a duty as well as a right to vote, then the voter ID requirement is one of those responsibilities to be shown each and every time you vote.

In Mexico their voter ID card has a picture, fingerprint and other identifiers they must present in order to vote. These credentials are verified when they go to vote.

The government could mess up a one car funeral and you think nationalizing elections will make voting rights better? Review last year in how inept Congress performed and you want the federal government to take control nationally of our voting? Control of voting must remain with each state, not the inept federal government.

Just a side note, Biden stated the recently passed voting law in Georgia won’t allow giving water to people standing in line. This is a lie. The law states: “Another new rule that affects both in-person early voting and election day voting would prohibit anyone except poll workers from handing out water to voters in line, and outlaw passing out food and water to voters within 150 feet of the building that serves as a poll, inside a polling place or within 25 feet of any voter standing in line.”

R. BRIAN PATTESON

Johnson City