Ribbons as a right of free speech

 

To the Editor:

I voted for President Obama twice for president, and I am very much in favor of locating his presidential center on the South Side of Chicago. I am also very much against taxpayers paying $175 million to locate his private foundation on 20 acres of Jackson Park.

This past Saturday, in an attempt to highlight how much parkland would be lost if the foundation is allowed to build in the park, a group of us tied ribbons around the trees that would be torn down to make way for the proposed construction.

Unbelievably, at the same time, one of my neighbors followed our group and cut down all of the ribbons we had placed on the trees.  When I asked her in a very neighborly way why she was not allowing our group to exercise our right of free speech, she said she was exercising her right of free speech by cutting down the ribbons.

Her actions certainly weren’t very neighborly, and reminded me of the vulgar, uncivilized behavior of people who exercise their right of free speech by shouting down speakers who are trying to express one viewpoint or another.

We don’t all need to agree on whether it’s a good thing to allow former President Obama to build his private foundation on public parkland, but we all ought to behave in a neighborly way as good citizens as we debate the issue.

John Clement