Letter: Authoritarian rhetoric not a good look for Lima

In a 2019 article published on the ACLU webpage, Vera Eidelman began with these words: “One of the core purposes of the First Amendment is to allow people, regardless of their views, to hold the government accountable through expression.”

Eidelman goes on to remind us that public officials can wear two hats: They act as private individuals, and at other times they are government actors. As private individuals, they maintain their First Amendment rights; they are subject to limits placed on government when doing government work.

On Monday, Sept. 12, Lima City Councilman Jamie Dixon rhetorically exceeded First Amendment limits when he said, “If you don’t like the things we are trying to do in this city, you are more than welcome to pack your things and leave.”

He was referring to people who have dissenting viewpoints from the city government, and this happened at a city council meeting. These dissenting views were made in an effort to hold the government accountable.

This “it’s our way or the highway” rhetoric from a government official while doing government work is against democracy, and it exhibits an authoritarian and tyrannical ideology. When public officials begin to hold such disdain for groups of citizens who dissent, perhaps they need to consider resignation. At the very least, a public apology is probably in order.

Bruce Patrick



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