There has been much discussion concerning Supervisor Bob Lamina’s As I See It article in this week’s Main Line Suburban newspaper. In my opinion, sitting Supervisors have to be very careful of public criticism of residents, either in public meeting or as this case, in written form in a newspaper. I support freedom of speech but I stand firm that supervisors were elected to represent all the people, regardless if the citizens opinion is in opposition of their own. Whether it is reading Supervisor Lamina’s article in the paper or reflecting on the behavior of some of the supervisors towards citizens at the last two Board of Supervisors meetings, we do have to wonder if they want to know what we think? Do they believe that they should do our thinking?
Most people are aware of the form of censorship defined by the American Library Association as “the removal of material from open access by government authority.” But there are other not so blatant forms of censorship, which can be just as damaging to the free and public exchange of ideas so crucial in a democratic society.
These forms of censorship occur through unofficial government actions usually by individual officials and their supporters. Two of the most common methods of this subtle form of censorship are the demonization of people who dare speak against the status quo, and the marginalization of ideas contrary to those supported by government officials.
These types of censorship are not always easy to spot and are not necessarily the result of any thoughtful process by the official. In fact, they are just as likely to be the result of an emotional unthinking reaction. However, demonization and marginalization constitute a very real form of censorship because they inhibit and discourage citizen participation in our local government.
Attempts at censorship and control of citizens opinions by our elected officials harm us all. Personally, I am glad that we have local citizens who care enough about Tredyffrin to offer comments, ask questions and share their community ideas that can improve our local government (for all the community) not just the politically connected. Likewise, I want to believe that our elected officials value the opinions of the entire community. We know they did on election day.