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At our annual spring town meeting, area representatives will be asked to appropriate $75K to fund a Director for what will be called the Reading Alliance for Equity and Social Justice (RAESJ). Funding this new position will result in a newly created governmental body. Essentially, this body will monitor and then identify any speech or actions this committee deems to be “hateful”. This will result in an inherently dangerous intrusion into our personal freedoms. Under the oversight of the Library Director, and Library Board of Trustees, the Library Director will select all members of the advisory board, whether residents or non-residents to serve as committee members.
Those supporting this position have a political, social, and cultural mission. In the words of its proponents, the committee, “condemns, confronts, and response to discrimination, racism, bias, and hate. The organization also strives to educate, empower and connect community members to do the same.”
Who defines discrimination, racism, bias, and hate? How does one with no authority condemn, confront, and respond to these actions? How does one with no legal authority respond to actions of discrimination and bias? How is hate defined; is it real, perceived, or imagined? Little imagination is needed to anticipate empowerment of grievance bearers secretly reporting to harm and discredit others based on differences of opinions and issues. This position is primed to create more serious legal issues in dealing with the public’s civil rights, liberty, and free speech. One purpose of placing this new division under control of the public library would be to serve an attempt to hold meetings outside of state Open Meeting regulations. Any attempt to hold the proceedings of any public committee out of public view should be cause for alarm.
For any harmful speech or behavior to be legally actionable, it must be supported by factual, verifiable evidence of criminal behavior. Short of this standard of wrong doing, no official town employee or body should be empowered to oversee and exert any measure of control over matters of all free speech and behavior. This aspect of social intercourse, should be limited to the responsibility of the individual to oppose and denounce those values they object to on a personal level and should not be overruled or defined by any government paid or appointed individual or committee.
We already see social overload by Reading activists of all types within existing groups like the Human Relations Advisory Committee, (HRAC), Reading Embraces Diversity (RED), CATO, POP Huddle, World Café, We the Youth, Wonder Woman, and the like, most of which already receive favorable support and promotion from our public library.
We can expect that the programs and agenda to be advanced under the direction of this new position and committee will be implemented throughout our town departments, to include our schools, all in the name of “social justice” advisement. With creation of this position, we will venture into an environment that will be harmful, destructive, divisive, and costly to our freedoms and likely produce potential legal consequences. Such a position will undermine, hamper, and coercively oppress the exercise of our free speech and behavior while at the same time seeking to indoctrinate the rest of us with their value system and world views that many of us do not agree with.
We urge all taxpayers to encourage their town meeting representatives to oppose the $75K plus benefits per year budget line item appropriation within the Library’s budget that will create this new position under the Library Director and leadership of the Board of Library Trustees.
Linda & Gary Phillips