Outgoing Councilman Stephens breaks out his American History Textbook
From his Estudillo Estates villa, patriot and San Leandro Councilman Bill Stephens watched as the servant tended to the cherry orchard. He spoke from a libertarian point-of-view. The infamously inflaming letter printed in the San Leandro Times two weeks ago was replaced in today’s edition with a far more intellectual and better written version, but the sentiments was the same–outsiders go home. Well, there isn’t any cherry orchards in San Leandro anymore, but you could almost see the tricorn hat of the Revolutionary period materialize atop Stephens’ head. Here, the council’s lone conservative, defended freedom of speech during last week’s council meeting:
On Sept. 17, 1787, the Continental Congress approved the U.S. Constitution. James Madison was very proud of himself in that regard and sent a copy to an individual by the name of Thomas Jefferson, who was in France at the time, with a copy saying, “Isn’t this wonderful!” Thomas Jefferson sent it back saying it was missing 10 points. The first one was the Bill of Rights, which obviously, was the First Amendment, which is, “Congress shall make no law abridging freedom of speech, press or the right of peaceful assembly. It took two more years before we could get to the Bill of Rights inculcated into the United States Constitution but they have become the benchmark of our freedom.They are the things we fight for and hold dear. They are things when people say things we disagree with we listen, lest they be speaking the truth and we be in error. It is what makes us unique as people and citizens of this great planet and this great country. There are times we I hear and read things I disagree with, but I am so happy to have that opportunity.
Stephens’ speech flipped the argument against the Times by defending the generalities of freedom of speech. The author’s speech was not impugned. Neither was the freedom of the press compromised, unless you intend to argue the Times acting on their own would have sullied their freedom’s through some sort of convoluted argument of self-censorship. The last time anyone looked, the Bill of Rights never included the right of individuals to have their diatribe printed in the newspaper.
Stephens, who is termed out this year after eight years in the council, luckily never faced a challenger for his seat. This is not the first time Stephens’ highfalutin rhetoric appeared to back those with so-called higher definitions of self-determination (the “pick themselves up by the bootstraps set). Last September, in the middle of loud community outrage over the city’s decision to cut school crossing guards from the budget, Stephens’ Address that night urged residents to make priorities, but came across as indicating the safety of children was on the same list as pruning trees and unclogging street gutters.
Stephens is correct, our freedom of speech is indeed precious and unique, but the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld certain reductions in that right when it comes to hate speech. The letter in the Times was undoubtedly hate speech given 32,000 times the volume of one person’s voice by the San Leandro Times publishing the letter. The person’s views Stephens and others want to protect on a symbolic level puts the poor, weak and minorities on the defensive for no reason other than to preserve the city’s old guard and dusty views towards race and outsiders.