Karl: Unblock Free Speech

Do you believe that Elected Officials should silence public discussion? Shut down dissenting voices?

It's come to my attention that some local elected leaders are 'scrubbing' comment sections on their posts to only show support. Blocking those that disagree. Firstly, this is potentially illegal under Davison v. Randall (Fourth Circuit Court, 2002). Public officials cannot censor their constituents. But secondly, common sense says if you make a big public statement via the internet and most folks respond negatively, that's an indicator and not a problem. And common decency says to treat people with respect. To silence critical voices on social media isn't winning hearts and minds –– it's producing propaganda.

Do you believe that Elected Officials should silence public discussion? Shut down dissenting voices?

I don't. In fact, I believe they should serve in such a way that invites feedback, public participation, and then participates right back. This page might give the impression of a campaign page, and it serves that purpose, but when the campaign ends this page will not. It will continue to be a tool to serve you better because what you think matters to me.

Most electeds only use social media pages in order to campaign. My opponent, for example, has served 8 years in public office but created his page January 1st, 2020. It will certainly be mothballed should he win in November.

I believe Facebook is a public forum and pages are an extension of that. Feedback from supporters is great and appreciated. So is "the noble opposition" –– the people that hold democracy accountable –– and help keep elected leaders honest. Embracing an echo chamber encourages leadership that is out of touch and distant.

It's come to my attention that some local elected leaders are 'scrubbing' comment sections on their posts to only show support. Blocking those that disagree. Firstly, this is potentially illegal under Davison v. Randall (Fourth Circuit Court, 2002). Public officials cannot censor their constituents. But secondly, common sense says if you make a big public statement via the internet and most folks respond negatively, that's an indicator and not a problem. And common decency says to treat people with respect. To silence critical voices on social media isn't winning hearts and minds –– it's producing propaganda.

Let me make my stance on digital public input clear. I support the First Amendment, and not always when it is easy. I respect your right to disagree. I hope you will give me the opportunity for dialogue. So long as you aren't spamming irrelevant content, threatening people, or being overtly hostile and derogatory in a way that limits the speech of others, I encourage and will protect your right to be critical on my page and have dialogue even when I may not agree.

When the discussion is hard, that's when Free Speech is MOST important.


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