The Public Voice - 27 East


Southampton Press / Opinion / Letters / 1946113

The Public Voice

So crucial was the newfound voice of the citizenry to the birth of democracy that Robespierre established the death penalty for those who spoke to obfuscate, and those who drew back from speaking, to wit: “those who, in popular assemblies, interrupt the energy of the people with artificial discourses, tumultuous shouts, even whispers; those more prudent individuals who speak mysteriously about the republic’s misfortunes; those who do not attend public meetings and try to excuse their absence by saying they do not know how to speak.”

Now, in the Age of Inversion and Privilege we live in, nothing is as manipulated, trod upon and devalued as public expression. Or weaponized, especially in raw utterances at every level: screaming parents attacking school boards for daring to readdress brutal revisionist history. “Yes, Virginia there is racism, and not just one day a year.”

Book banning, book burning and keeping the books on each and every utterance and gesture of every public figure to mine a “Me too …” and “You too …” and every victim in a tutu in the hopes of scoring an undisclosed “settlement.” (Please don’t send hate mail: I know there are legitimate victims.)

The myths of the Wild West complete have dumped from the movie screen to the Aldermen’s conference, with guns flashing and threats to use them (in self-defense against ideas), and confused kids have to declare a sexual preference instead of just raising their hand to go to the bathroom.

Here in Corruptia-sur-la-mer, we have the local manipulation of the public voice: those in favor bloviate on and on to the beatific smiles of those being supported; those not in favor, or, worse yet, who have information, get shut off at three minutes even in mid-sentence, as is the usual case at the Southampton Village Board, while those trustees who deign to attend can be seen furiously texting, and the overpaid lawyer zooms in his version of Robert’s Rules.

Even so, the public must shoulder on. Jay Schneiderman is enthusiastically hyping public hearings to activate “political motivation” for a new Thielian tax, aka a fund for “affordable housing.” The village, forced to hold a public hearing they might actually inform the public about, is racing to ram through the over-reaching, egregious registration law to cash in on the current rental season.

Despite the frustrating bending of the rules, the public must give of its time, attend and speak. Currently, there is no death penalty if you don’t, but you will be over-taxed, over-burdened and underrepresented if you silence your own voice.

Remember, people died throughout history, and continue to do so, in order to speak out.

Frances Genovese