Category Archives: freedom of speech

I THINK … Elmwood Park, Illinois is taking a page from the Communist manifesto.

Sometimes the largely unnoticed issues are the most telling. Take the recent events in the middle American Chicago suburb of Elmwood Park (where my parents lived out the last years of their lives).

As a preface, you need to recall how public criticism of the old Soviet and pre-Nixon China was treated. Expressions of displeasure with the government would result in arrest or commitment to mental institutions. Anyone speaking out against the “wise leaders” — even for the most modest of reasons – was punished as a malcontent, a nut or a criminal.

Now consider this.

An Elmwood Park city council committee chairman, Stephen Hipskind, recently ejected Darlene Heslop because she “rolled her eyes” in as a sign of disgust over the hiring of a $30,000 lobbyist. Ponder this for a moment … getting kicked out of a public meeting for a disparaging facial expression.

Such enforced “respect’ is opposed to everything America is about. We are a nation that protests our leaders, when we disagree. We yell out pejoratives, and scream out opposition. This is the American way. This is what personal freedom is about. This is what the First Amendment of the Constitution guarantees.

But wait! There is more.

Elmwood Park’s city attorney has been directed draft an ordinance to make it illegal to “disrupt” a government meeting with non verbal facial expressions or body language. Will this include frowning, shaking your head in a negative gesture, looking shocked, glaring, folding your arms across your chest or maybe just falling asleep? Where is the borderline of disrespectful or contemptible appearance? You can only imagine what would become of people who boo, hiss or groan. On the other hand, you can bet that clapping, cheers and attaboys would not be considered disruptive. I am not sure even the old Communists in Moscow and Beijing ever went that far.

This is just another example of how our populist republic is slowly evolving into elitist statism.

Disclaimer: The photo is for illustration purposes and not from the Elmwood Park meeting.