Letter: All viewpoints need to be heard, respected

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To the Editor:

With its approval of the "Black Lives Matter" mural on South Street our Select Board has sanctioned the use of town property as a public forum for political speech. Bennington is blessed with a diverse population. We come from all sorts of different ethnic backgrounds — some are rich, some are poor; some are well educated, some barely can read; but we all seem capable of expressing ourselves in a wide range of political views.

If the First Amendment to the Constitution means anything, it means that ALL these viewpoints should be heard and respected, and our elected government's first responsibility should be to defend ALL our citizens' rights to express themselves freely.

I urge the Select Board to vigorously support Mike Bethel as he seeks to exercise his constitutional right to freedom of speech. I also urge the board to welcome ALL other citizens, even those with opinions some of us might find most odious, to join in and express their beliefs and opinions as well.

I firmly believe that a vigorous, even boisterous, marketplace for ideas is one of the cornerstones of democracy.

Ned Perkins,

Bennington

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