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Evelyn Beatrice Hall, an English writer best known for her biography of French writer and philosopher Voltaire, wrote the phrase “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it” as an illustration of Voltaire’s beliefs and the principle of freedom of speech. This principle of individual liberty is the foundation of Western Liberal philosophy. If we expect others to leave us alone to do as we please with our property, then we must leave others alone to do as they please, even if we wouldn’t choose the same. (paraphrased using information from Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evelyn Beatrice Hall)

Here in Evanston, the liberal capitol of Illinois, our Mayor and Aldermen will take yet another step in their years-long effort to eliminate dissent, to control what someone can say, to control how they say it, and to control where they say it.   

The Rules Committee members will vote on Resolution 126-R-20 as its weapon to ban language, behavior, and images during virtual meetings, that a chairperson finds objectionable.  The resolution does not include a list of “offensive words” for our reference, nor a definition of “offensive images, offensive behavior, or disruptive behavior”; this will be decided subjectively by the chairperson on a case by case basis.

Recall that before the pandemic, this City Council wrote new rules to ban the use of signs at city meetings (signs larger than 8 ½ x 11 inches in size).  The length of public comment was restricted to an artificial time limit and when divided by the number of citizens signed up, everyone is “allowed” a miniscule number of seconds to make a point. 

 The new rules give the chairperson discretion to EJECT YOU, if your words, behavior, or images you show offend him or her. 

God forbid you go over your allotted number of citizen comment seconds, for YOU WILL BE MUTED.

                                                                                                                                            –– Mike Vasilko