Amazing. Utterly astounding. The fact that every member of the current School Board failed to realize that "those words" in this "Communications Protocol" are in conflict with the basic guarantees of the First Amendment, is downright stupefying.
The issue here isn't about "Codes of Ethics." We already have one. We all swore oaths of office and promised to uphold and safeguard the guarantees of both the U.S. and Virginia State Constitutions.
The disturbing issue here concerns the board's willingness to attempt to restrict and violate the Constitutional right of any board member to speak on behalf of the citizens who elected them and to deny to those citizens their right to have their school board member speak to the issues of concern.
The Founding Fathers of this nation purposefully placed freedom of speech first. They also made a place at the table for the press and insisted that not only did citizens, but newspaper reporters, too, had a right to freedom of expression in order to help keep government honest.
And, as far as "best practices" go, I submit that the Courts across this nation have long respected the "Code of Ethics" known as the U.S. Constitution. I believe the Constitution trumps any "Code of Ethics" that someone dreams up.
RPS needs to stop blaming and punishing dissenting board members and members of the media for their troubles. Rather than trying so hard to change "perceptions" about RPS and wasting energy attacking anyone or anybody who dares to disagree with you "a liar," I submit that it would be far better for the sake of the children in this city were the board to concern itself with the work at hand.
You don't like what people in the media and blogs have to say? Fine. But, that doesn't entitle you to berate and belittle those who hold differing views or to restrict their Constitutionally guaranteed right to express them.
I am not alone in this view. Judge Murray Gurfein, a Nixon appointee, understood that the press has a very important role in keeping this nation free. The following is excerpted from his Pentagon Papers opinion:
``A cantankerous press, an obstinate press, a ubiquitous press, must be suffered by those in authority in order to preserve the even greater values of freedom of expression and the right of the people to know."
Similarly, U. S. Supreme Court Justice William J. Brennan noted that the dominant purpose of the First Amendment was to uphold the bedrock principle that "government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable."
Justice William O. Douglas pretty-much nailed it with this statement: "The dominant purpose of the First Amendment was to prohibit the widespread practice of government suppression of embarrassing information."
And, Justice Hugo Black was always at his most succinct and eloquent when discussing the First Amendment: "Without deviation, without exception, without any ifs, buts, or whereases, freedom of speech means that you shall not do something to people either for the views they express, or the words they speak or write.