Thursday, October 8, 2009

Free Speech and the Right to Criticize Public Officials

It came to my attention today that a certain public official is attacking me behind the scenes for my public criticism of him.

As I tell people, that's one of the risks of doing a blog (which apparently this elected official reads religiously.) When you stick your head out of the hole, people start shooting at you. The fact they are shooting though is evidence that your comments are hitting the target.

Public officials do not have some right to serve in public office and not be criticized. I have publicly accused this public official of not doing his job and misspending public funds, accusations backed up by loads of evidence, none of which he has ever once contradicted. Instead of trying to dispute my public criticism and show why I'm wrong, he chooses to go after me behind closed doors.

Sorry, elected official, but in a quote made famous by President Harry Truman, "If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen." If you can't stand public criticism of your job performance, you have no business being in public service.

Why is the right to criticize public officials important? There is a simple answer which is summed up in the quote at the top of my blog:
“Throughout history, it has been the inaction of those who could have acted; the indifference of those who should have known better; the silence of the voice of justice when it mattered most; that has made it possible for evil to triumph.” Haile Selassie
Last time I checked, they have not repealed the First Amendment. So elected official, if you think my public criticism of your performance in office is going to be curtailed by your efforts, think again. It is not going to happen.

11 comments:

Jon said...

Well if Baird Hill, who is a congressman, can stifle freedom of speech in a meeting why can't our local electorate impugn the honor of those who have the temerity to question their politics?

Paul K. Ogden said...

I think you mean "Baron" Hill, but I agree.

Hoosier in the Heartland said...

Keep up the good work, Paul!

Without a real newspaper in town anymore to perform the "watch dog" function, it's up to people such as you to "out" the crooks!

Diana Vice said...

I am so glad that you are not being intimidated into silence. I've had similar experiences. If they don't like the message, they try to kill the messenger. Too bad there aren't more with your conviction and courage, Paul. There would be a lot less corruption if more people called the mismanagers into account the way you do. Keep up the good work! You are making a difference.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Thank you, Diana. I so agree. People need to be willing to speak out if we're going to clean up the corruption and dirty politics in this city.

Downtown Indy said...

Lately I've been seeing 'criticize', 'question', and 'disagree' labelled as 'attack' with increasing frequency.

Pesky thing, that 1st Amendment. Some people seem to find it crimps their style.

Jon said...

Paul, yes I meant Baron, and somehow that name smacks more of the congressional elite, Baron versus the serfs.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Well if Mr. Elected Official thinks he can intimidate me into not criticizing him, he is going to find out how wrong he is.

I know said...

Paul,
I completely agree with Diana Vice. Keep up the great work.

Susie said...

I have been reading your blog for a couple of months now, thanks to a co-worker who reads and talks about your blog religiously. I have really enjoyed every piece written and cannot help to find myself amazed as to how intelligent, tactful, and right-on you are. I admire and respect your courage and willingness to speak out. Do not be silenced or I will be crushed.

Paul K. Ogden said...

Thanks, Susie. Just now seeing this. Thank you so much for your comments.