Editorial: “Curiouser and Curiouser”
6/1/10 – A line spoken by Alice in Wonderland could not be more apt for present day Banning!
Just when you thought Banning couldn’t get more bizarre, something else happens!
What’s the latest you may ask?
The San Gorgonio Rotary Club, in an attempt to confound the American tradition of free speech and expression, has apparently decided in their infinite wisdom to kick out one of their members, Victor Dominguez, for speaking his mind before the Banning City Council! It is important to note that they have not offered another reason for taking this action, and Victor believes that this is the Rotary’s motivator in their decision.
Now just in case the Rotary Club isn’t aware of it, or perhaps doesn’t believe in it, Free Speech is a tradition in America, it dates back to pre-revolutionary days and has been the subject of numerous conflicts throughout our history. Censorship and repression of individual freedom, on the other hand, has always been viewed with distain and is a huge “no no”!
As a review, as stated in the 1st and 14th Amendments to the Constitution of the United States, the freedom to express information, ideas, and opinions free of government restrictions based on content is deeply woven into the fabric of our Nation. A modern legal test of the legitimacy of proposed restrictions on freedom of speech was stated in the opinion by Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr. in Schenk v. U.S. (1919): a restriction is legitimate only if the speech in question poses a “clear and present danger” — i.e., a risk or threat to safety or to other public interests that is serious and imminent. It is the liberty to express opinions and ideas without hindrance, and especially without fear of punishment.
According to the Record Gazette article of May 28, it seems the Club Secretary and Treasurer, Larry Higgins, appears to have decided that enough liberty was enough, and this free speech business had to be brought to an abrupt halt! After all, Dominguez had spoken out in public during the “public comments” portion of a recent City Council meeting with concerns about closing the senior center and other City facilities, a need for continued Council support of the Police Department, and comments critical of City Councilman Don Robinson.
Apparently, speaking out during the City Council meetings about the needs of the City is getting on the Council’s nerves, particularly after the trauma of their self-imposed Liberty Energy disaster, with all of the free speech that went on at that time. Plainly put, some of the Council simply can’t take it anymore! Apparently, some of the Council’s buddies on the Rotary Club don’t like this freedom of individual expression business any more than the Council does. Adding to all this, by some strange coincidence, Don Robinson’s wife just happens to be a member of the same Rotary Club that ousted Dominguez! An equally amazing coincidence is that the Mayor of Banning, Bob Botts, who has been the subject of some of Dominguez’s comments, is also a member of that same Rotary Club. Draw you own conclusions on that one!
Two of the Four Tests touted by the Rotary Club include truth and fairness, one could ask them if truth and fairness was involved regarding the ouster of Dominguez, or were they being true and fair to some other issue, cause or individual? .