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Rudeness allowed at Massachusetts town meetings

May 08, 2023 12:21 pm

Greta Jochem reports in The Berkshire Eagle that the highest court in Massachusetts has ruled the speakers have the right to be rude in public comment at a town meeting. The State Supreme Judicial Court ruled in March that public comment cannot be stopped even if comments are “rude, disrespectful, or personal speech about government officials or government actions.” The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts called the ruling a “victory for free speech rights and core democratic principles.” Pittsfield City Council President Peter Marchetti was not so enthusiastic, saying, “I think it’s OK to voice opposition to a decision that’s made. But when we revert to name-calling of councilors or department heads, I think that’s a bit overboard.” Public comment is not required under the state’s Open Meeting Law, and North Adams City Council President Lisa Blackmer is considering eliminating it from meetings altogether. Read more about this story in The Berkshire Eagle.

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