Owl Opinion: The Right to Be Rude in Public Meetings Upheld in Massachusetts


Did you know that the Massachusetts Supreme Court has just upheld the Right to Be Rude in Public Meetings? Yes, true story–it is here on a WBUR open (no subscription) page. If you have a New York Times subscription, there is a deeper and somewhat unnerving (to the Owl) story behind paywall here.

Here’s the part that was not covered so well in those media sources. You also have the right to NOT be rude in public meetings. That seems somewhat obvious but somewhat forgotten. There are several volunteer boards in Weston that have some tough and mixed-popularity items that provoke anger or shall I say high emotion at this time. As far as I know, the police have yet to be called, and inflammatory name-calling has not been invoked but sometimes it does seem that we are teetering on the edge. Weston is in Town Meeting time, a season of brutality. Or not. We could choose “not”.

Discussions on teacher contracts, wetlands protection, pickleball and water tanks are ongoing and led, for the most part, by volunteers or town employees. Here’s hoping Weston does not lose its collective mind. Our town does not run without our volunteers–there are more than a few who think about stepping down when the brutality strikes. I would also say that intra-committee niceties could be improved. Just an opinion. I watch a lot of public meetings so am marginally qualified to say that.

Yes, the right to free speech. And the right to make it nice. Just an idea. Oh wait, someone tells that better than I do: Aesop’s Fable of the North Wind and the Sun. Be the Sun.

Both images credit: Library of Congress and Aesop’s Fables


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