Legislature should not act as the thought police


Legislature should notact as the thought police

This is wrong. The New Hampshire Legislature should not be in the business of investigating or judging the social media of state representatives, particularly when that expression is not part of their legislative duties. The Legislature is not the thought police.

At the intersection of free speech and live free or die is the right to express oneself, even if the opinions are extreme or offensive, feminist or anti-feminist. And that right is not lost by being elected as a legislator.

Yes, speech can be offensive, but that can never be enough in a genuine democracy to justify governmental inquisition or censure of private political expression. Each state rep has the right to criticize the opinions of her colleagues, but that should be done as an individual not as a government act. Just as this country has no prescribed religion, it should have no proscribed opinion.

And if the Legislature is to judge private political opinions, what criteria are to be used to determine which opinions should be subject to investigation and which shall be censured? An investigation (or whatever else the Legislature may choose to call it) with no rules in place is an invitation to punish unpopular opinion and minority points of view. The harassment of suspected Communists in this state during the 1950s and ’60s is a demonstration of what can happen when government undertakes to investigate unpopular points of view.

If the current investigations do not result in censure or worse, then the outcome may be misinterpreted as approval of the opinions under investigation. Far better to stay out of this business altogether.

Jon Meyer

Manchester

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