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Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Freedom of Speech (that doesn’t offend Dan Sullivan)


By Shannyn Moore

My sister and I were doing homework and talking about a boy in our junior high school. We were laughing about the dirty high-water pants he seemed to wear every single day.

I looked up to see a tight-faced Pop. I was confused until he said, “There was a time I only had one pair of pants. Do you think he wears them every day because he has a choice? You don’t have to remind him he’s poor; he knows.”

I managed a “Sorry, Pop,” and went to my room. I closed the door, sat on the floor and cried. I was so ashamed. How could I not know? It was obvious, but I was too busy mocking to see it.

I remembered that as I read the mayor’s response to the idea he meet with a homeless man who opposes his homeless policies. Mr. Sullivan said the man would have to “clean up and make himself presentable as a good, self-worthy human being would do.”

I thought about the boy from school. He was more than those dirty pants, but that’s all I saw. Pop was trying to teach us that our worth as human beings isn’t reflected by our attire. Or if it is, it’s just a coincidence. Our clothing, stature, employment, IQ, abilities, talents, bank accounts, campaign contributions or previous crimes may or may not get us a date with the mayor, but our rights under the First Amendment should be blind to those things.

Earlier this year, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of the Rev. Fred Phelps of the Westborough Baptist church. The father of a fallen soldier had sued Phelps after Phelps picketed the son’s funeral with anti-gay signs. Phelps regularly pickets the funerals of soldiers to condemn America for its tolerance of LGBT citizens.

Phelps goes against everything I know as patriotic or humane. He’s a bully, a hater and an opportunist. But he has the right to parade his hate because American soldiers, including those over whose bodies he protests, swore to “support and uphold the Constitution.”

People who say, “ice cream is yummy and flowers are pretty” don’t often have to defend their right to free speech. Freedom of speech only matters when people say unpopular things or, in this case, something the mayor doesn’t like.

The mayor and his buddies are trying to pass his new anti- civil rights ordinance by making an issue of the checkered history of the protester, John Martin. Mr. Martin is not only homeless, he is a registered sex offender. This does not make Mr. Martin the ideal poster child for free speech. But this isn’t about Mr. Martin’s background, or the thin-skinned, Palinesque condition of the mayor. It’s about the right of a citizen — any citizen — to talk back to the government.

Much of the legislation and focus of the mayor’s time in office has been on the homeless. Not to solve the problem, but to hide it. The mayor has a special knack for fighting symptoms while ignoring root causes. Putting your boot on the throat of someone powerless is probably a lot easier than finding solutions.

But let’s step back for a moment from the mayor-Martin standoff. Whatever your views on the homeless problem — and it is a problem — the mayor is about to pass a law in response to his now-notorious critic that usurps the right of any of us to make a political statement by sitting on a public sidewalk.

What about the First Amendment? You know, it says the government shall “make no law … abridging the freedom of speech … or the right of the people peaceably to assemble …”

This is an ordinance with the specific purpose of abridging freedom of speech. Sure, there are exceptions. If you have a heart attack, you can lie down on the sidewalk without risk of arrest. And you’re legal if you use a wheelchair or a walker and need to park yourself on the sidewalk for a minute. Or, if you’ve gone to the city and gotten official approval to engage in your own personal public event, no problem.

Welcome to Mayor Sullivan’s new world order of free speech. How do you get it? Request permission 30 days in advance, pay $65 and make sure you don’t offend him. (The good news? There isn’t a demonstration dress code yet.)

Where are you Libertarians and liberty-defending Tea Party Patriots? You want to protect individual freedom, well here’s your chance. Read the ordinance: from the day it is passed, there will no longer be FREE speech, there will only be PERMITTED speech.

Is that what the Greatest Generation bled to defend: Speech that doesn’t offend Dan Sullivan?

OK, armchair patriots, it’s time to stand and deliver: Tuesday night, July 26, Anchorage Assembly chambers, Loussac Library. Testify against this unneeded, unconstitutional and anti-American ordinance. You don’t even need a permit — yet.



31 Responses to “Freedom of Speech (that doesn’t offend Dan Sullivan)”
  1. Sha Stratman says:

    Well said, Shannyn. Free speech that costs $65 isn’t free. Thanks for staying and fighting for what is right.

  2. tallimat says:

    I went to highschool with bartender Dan.
    Stuck up, arrogant, thought his own crap smelled like

    He was a booze drinker back in highschool and today, well he probably hasn’t changed much.
    Frankly if bartender Dan thinks the guy protesting is some form of safety issue, well I think a mayor who drinks too much and drives is a safety issue.

  3. thatcrowwoman says:

    Shannyn, thank you for sharing this wisdom of your Pops. His is a strong bright thread in the tapestry that is the mudflats, weaving his way into hearts and minds around the world.

    *sitting and/or standing on the sidewalk
    in virtual solidarity
    for free speech
    and against bullies*


  4. Lacy Lady says:

    ZYXOMMA—–After hearing our Pres. speech tonight and then the Reps view point, I really wonder if they really care about the American people. I hear their service crashed tonight after Obama’s speech. I went on-line in order to send a message to Steve King. And I see he has it blocked with an ad to donate. What an Ass he is. Hopefully Christie Vilsack can beat him in the next election.
    The republicans know that the only way they can beat this president is to let the country go down the tube. How Sad to think that they want to destroy our country at all costs.

    • I don’t think they care. I fear that when McConnell said their priority was to make Obama a one-term president, I think that really is their only goal, the only plan they have, and they will stop at nothing to get their way.

      Absolutely disgusting!

      • Marilyn U says:

        Yes, they are so sure that EVERYONE voted for them so that they could remove Obama from office. They just represent small racist districts, got in by stirring up hate, and actually think that thinking people won’t come out to vote them out soon as their terms are up. I think they KNOW better as now it is changing to WE don’t want to pay taxes. HA! Their love and patriotisim to America ends when the free ride and generous corporate welfare does! Blood sucking racists all. I think it will be only a small handful of racist bullies that will be voting for them next time around. Many suckered in last time seem to be seeing them for what they are, they have gone out of their way to make it abundantly clear every day since they got in.

    • Zyxomma says:

      Thanks for posting that, Lacy Lady. I will not succumb to fear, but I know some people in Congress would blithely place many — no, most — Americans in penury to protect the income of their corporate masters. It’s dirty, slimy, and shameful. And they call themselves Christians. Dominionist asshats.

  5. PollyinAK says:

    Excellent article! I loved the way you pulled our heartstrings at the beginning. Sully is slimy. I hope there is a good turnout at the assembly meeting tomorrow night.

  6. zyggy says:

    Someone needs to get John dressed and take him to the meeting too. There should be a church or church group willing to clean him up and make him presentatable.

  7. Zyxomma says:

    Oh, Shannyn, you touched a chord in my memory. When I was in elementary school, one of my classmates came to school every day in the same shirt and pants. They were always clean; he was always clean, but apparently, he owned only that one pair of pants and that single shirt. His mom probably washed them every night.

    Sullivan is an asshat, and I hope the crowd is huge.

    • the problem child says:

      As a kid, I wore the same clothes a lot because I didn’t have any others. Now I have an embarrassment of clothes in my closet. Time to donate the ones I don’t wear more than twice a month.

  8. akglow says:

    Since Mr. Sullivan has taken office, he hasn’t reduced violent crime or property taxes, but at least I can walk into the grocery store and not have to worry about being asked for food or spare change. 🙂
    -according to “blurb” I found from an old Anchorage Press story, he has been working on this for awhile, along with outlawing SWEARING by those who are turned down:

    No begging, please
    anchorage press ^ | July 2004 | Kyle Hopkins

    West Anchorage Assemblyman Dan Sullivan has introduced his second anti-panhandling ordinance, saying he wants the city to curb “aggressive” panhandling and put the kibosh on, in his words, “people who won’t take no for an answer.” People who watch the government will remember Sullivan’s 2003 anti-panhandling ordinance that generated much discussion about curbside panhandling before the assembly passed it. The law is now in effect, making it illegal for panhandlers to leave the curb and step into traffic. The law has also introduced a violation-type ticket for any driver who lures a panhandler into the road. Sullivan doesn’t think the new law is doing enough, so he’s come up with another new proposal. This one would make it illegal for panhandlers to swear at, follow, or otherwise pester people who make it clear the answer was no; It would also make it illegal to block a doorway, solicit funds from people standing in line, or panhandle in groups of two or more people. It also bans panhandling within 20 feet of banks or ATMs.

  9. Excellent commentary, Shannyn. The problem I see is that if this assault on the First Ammendment goes unchallenged, it won’t be long before other like-minded mayors around the country try to pass the same thing.

    It is indeed time for all those Tea Party Patriots and Libertarians to stand up for what they say they believe, and it’s time for everyone else to join them. Finally, an issue that should have by-partisan support.

  10. MW That One..... says:

    well said. Will repost. As usual you have gone to the heart of the matter ~ Thanks.

    “Where are you Libertarians and liberty-defending Tea Party Patriots? You want to protect individual freedom, well here’s your chance. Read the ordinance: from the day it is passed, there will no longer be FREE speech, there will only be PERMITTED speech.”

    Time to go to the library (Assembly Meeting) everybody!

  11. barbara says:

    do you have an ACLU branch in Anchorage? they might love to take up this case – it’s a slam dunk for them. your mayor, sadly, is pathetic. was he really elected honestly?

  12. Sane in Redding says:

    Outstanding comments Shannyn. I should hope the Anchorage Assembly chambers will be standing room only tomorrow night to show the clown that he is indeed a clown.
    Recall this idiot!

  13. Ann Strongheart says:

    Wow…. ok so here’s what’s up on ADN’s Blog. The debate is on. Check out the comments.

  14. Juneaudream says: can..track down the bully..playing his game..or in other ways..make your views..( were I there in town..mine as well)’end running’ the brittle ..Establishment. Why just crash into their walls? I would..I guarantee you..create ‘one off’ shirts to wear..and button-type large comments easily read by the public patrons..walking on said streets. My comments could be on a sign..held as I walked one day..and on a ‘sandwich board’..also as I walked, another. 3 ballons with messaged ‘inked’ upon them. Give the a— many avenues of ‘comment’..he cannot deal with them! Nice comments like..”notice I have my rowdeyrump..TOTALLY off of the curb..yer Superintendency”..and other such comments..which assorted people could chose to wear..attach on their bike, their skateboard..and affixed to their dogs backpacks. No sitting on the curb? ….heh problem for those who do not let themselves be..diverted from..the long term concerns/picture/political Processes…. ;)moi

  15. John says:

    I’ve seen the mayor place his hand over his stomach and recite the Pledge of Allegiance. It doesn’t say, “with liberty and justice for all well-dressed and clean people.”

  16. Ann Strongheart says:

    Very well said Shannyn!! I hope lots of people can attend and tell Mr. Sullivan what an idiot he is. There are many of us who served this country to protect it from foreign enemies. We proudly gave up ourselves to join various branches of the military. We stood watch and fought for the Red, White, and Blue, the United States of America and protected the rights and lives of all it’s citizens. Even the babbling idiots like Mr. Sullivan.

    Stand up mudpups in Anchorage and attend the assembly meeting! Protect our citizens, our rights, our freedoms!! I would gladly attend if I could but unfortunately I cannot. I will be there in spirit!!

    • Barbara Honeman says:

      Ann,I can only say Amen! There are many STILL fighting and dying for that Right. However, when it comes to standing up when it counts-at the voting booth. There seems to be only “D’s and “R”,s fighting to keep each each other from “winning”. I wonder if there are are many citizens who are fighting to “win” for the American people-or only their side? We have very few who still fight for the people and their Rights.

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