Welcome back from Christmas break, everyone! Here’s how we’ll be starting the social media day.
Bruce Hagen is the Mayor of Superior, Wisconsin (population about 27,000). Hagen, in response to a picture of First Lady Michelle Obama, wrote the following on Facebook:
“Unbelievable! She and her Muslim partner have destroyed the fabric of democracy that was so very hard fought for!”
Ahh, so we’re going with the “Obama is a Muslim” meme again, I see. That’s lovely.
Needless to say, the city’s residents and other elected officials were not amused. Five City Councilors called for Mayor Hagen to resign in the wake of his remarks, with Councilors calling the remarks “inappropriate.” Mayor Hagen, for his part, refuses to resign, saying: “Am I gonna resign? Absolutely not. If the people of this community feel otherwise, they will vote me out of office.”
The standard response of Hagen’s remarks, from defenders, is probably something along the lines of “Free speech!” They are right, of course – to a point. The Mayor is, unquestionably, entitled to say whatever he wants (within certain broad limits) without fear of government repercussions. But here’s the thing: Free speech doesn’t mean freedom from the consequences of your speech, and elected officials are, as I’ve said a thousand times, held to a higher standard for the content of their remarks. Indeed, this was best elucidated by City Councilor Graham Garfield, who said, “”Sure he’s entitled to free speech. But elected officials are held accountable for stupid things they do and say.”
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