Editor of the Reformer,
At the September 8 meeting of the Newfane Select Board, a spurious argument was advanced that the racist graffiti painted on Route 30 in Newfane was an expression of constitutionally protected free speech ("Newfane urged to make statement on anti-BLM graffiti," Sept. 10).
We do have a constitutionally protected right to express our beliefs, regardless of what they are, in public without fear of prosecution.
However, our racist graffiti creator didn't meet the criteria for this protection. He/she could have painted their slogan on their car and proudly driven around the county showing off their viewpoint. We could have seen the message and the person conveying the message. He/she could have brought out a soap box and make their point audibly on the street corner, again, putting themselves in view along with their viewpoints for us to consider.
But no, this/these brave free speech advocate(s) chose to drive around under cover of darkness, vandalizing the state highway, leaving anonymous messages that have succeeded in intimidating people of color in the area where the racist messages were left.
Targeted messages of hate are currently under scrutiny in various parts of the American legal system.
We don't have a clear right to anonymously leave targeted intimidating messages aimed at individuals simply because of their skin color or creed.
We have the right to stand up and be heard. If our ideas are so odious that we are afraid to associate ourselves with them, we do not have the right to spew them anonymously simply to breed intimidation and discord.
South Newfane, Sept. 10