Civility and the First Amendment

Recent letters berating Carefree Vice Mayor Cheryl Kroyer for attempting to bring respectful behavior and discourse to Town Council meetings and characterizing her calls for civility as an affront to First Amendment rights are ill-founded.

Carefree is a quiet small town with a population that has always been largely friendly, considerate and civil. But that has been changing recently, and in my opinion we have reached the point that bad behavior has begun to crowd out reasoned discussion.

Shouting out at inappropriate times does not promote free expression; rather it is intimating to anyone who may have a contrary point of view. And unruly behavior not only discourages free speech, it also discourages some residents from attending meetings. Arizona public meetings are governed by statute and by rules, and there is no First Amendment right to disruption by speaking out of turn and out of order in a public meeting.People are entitled to their own opinions.

And while debate may become heated, there need be no room for a lack of decorum in the Carefree Council chambers.
Even insincere decorum would be a welcome contrast to the disrespectful behavior witnessed at recent Council meetings and defended in letters on this editorial page.

Anton Wilke