Letter: It’s time to consider retracting flag policy in Barrington

Posted 3/4/21

To the editor:

If there was ever an example of making a problem where there was none, the Town of Barrington’s Flag Policy is it.

The residents of the town have always been fortunate …

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Letter: It’s time to consider retracting flag policy in Barrington

Posted

To the editor:

If there was ever an example of making a problem where there was none, the Town of Barrington’s Flag Policy is it.

The residents of the town have always been fortunate enough to have public meetings where all residents are welcome and encouraged to attend to voice any concerns or promote any issues dear to their hearts. We have also been fortunate enough to have a local newspaper where all are welcome to voice their opinions. And we live in a country where the greatest living document on human rights, the Constitution, gives us a first amendment that protects the right to free speech.

But somewhere along the line a Councilman decided he had a better way. He took it upon himself to choose sides on issues, to promote those issues, and to convince the rest of his Council members, and a Town Manager, to adopt a policy that was not only unnecessary, but anti-free speech. He and the rest get to decide if the issue dearest to your heart is worthy of their support. They wrote an ordinance that says they have the power to make those judgements so that makes it right, doesn’t it?

Sorry Mrs. Rasnick and Rachel, but Councilman Brier just didn’t think Autism Speaks was quite on par with Gay Pride or Black Lives Matter. Of course Mr. Brier offered to ask the town to light the Town Hall in blue during April to draw attention to Autism. Please, let’s not set a precedent and go down another road we don’t need to, setting up another whole set of problems about who gets lights and who doesn’t. Autism awareness is as important as any and every other issue. How do we explain to Rachel that it is not? Fortunately for Rachel another Councilor is willing to work with her family on this.

But that is what is inherently wrong with the whole policy. We can’t have it both ways.

We can’t restrict the banners that go up and still say we are advocates of free speech, at least that is what common sense tells us. But they can and they do under the guise of “‘government protected speech”. And while the law may actually protect their argument, ask the average man and woman what they think about the fairness of supporting some constituents and not others, and I think you will get an entirely different response.

Some day, residents may actually get to ask those questions of Mr. Brier face to face. For now, he insists that Zoom meetings are the only safe way to conduct government. In response to my going to work daily in a school building at the age of 66, he said, “Different people do different things.” Going to church daily is my choice, and I feel safe there because God is with me and He is my protector. But as far as my job, I have to go to work. I go to work because schools absolutely need to be open and I have a responsibility to my students to take the risk necessary to do what is best for them.

Those elected to the Town Council might consider that it is their responsibility to show leadership as well. Regarding in person meetings, Mr. Brier told Josh Bickford that “there was no reason why Barrington should lead the charge to doing in person again.” It was not long ago that the issue of plastic bags was a hot topic and the Council repeatedly said that they were proud to lead that environmental charge for the whole state of Rhode Island. They wanted to be the leaders. But I guess there was no risk there.

My heart goes out to Mrs. Rasnick and Rachel. My heart goes out to the veterans of this town who were promised a memorial of their own in thanks for their service to America, only to have it turned into a political tool.

It is time to consider retracting this policy. We can advocate for respect and justice for all people at our public meetings, in our local press, in our neighborhoods. No matter our persuasions, we all want freedom, equality and justice. Let’s do it in a way that unites us around our common ideals rather than a way that divides us into the chosen and the unchosen.

Mary Teixeira

Barrington

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