Free speech is alive and well on main street

The right to free speech is a cornerstone of a just society. Yet it was ironic to see how a few folks used their rights last week at the Snoqualmie 76 station.

  • Wednesday, October 20, 2010 5:25pm
  • Opinion

The right to free speech is a cornerstone of a just society. Yet it was ironic to see how a few folks used their rights last week at the Snoqualmie 76 station.

Three members of Lyndon LaRouche’s action committee had camped out on the sidewalk in front of the Snoqualmie 76 gas station, unrolled a large poster depicting President Barack Obama as Hitler and were waiting for the curious or like-minded to approach. Business at both the booth and the adjacent service station was slow.

Staff at the service station told me that they didn’t particularly care to be associated by proximity with the political display, and when an employee asked the political visitors to leave, she was rudely informed that the trio was going nowhere. Police informed her that the sidewalk was a public place on which anyone can assemble peaceably, permission or no. Still, customers steered clear for a few hours.

A short time later, Valley Record Publisher William Shaw showed up to find out what was going on. The trio defiantly declined to speak—odd, I think, given that they were trying to raise attention—and referred him to a Seattle spokesperson. He did come back to the office with a few densely written position pamphlets calling for impeachment of the president and comparing the national health care plan with the policies of Nazi Germany.

The LaRouche visit appears to be a regular Valley phenomenon. LaRouche’s folks came to Snoqualmie this summer, approaching the Snoqualmie City Council for endorsement of a banking reform act. The council didn’t bite.

They set up their booth in North Bend a few weeks ago, prompting one Valley man to write a letter to the editor in complaint. He called on businesses to ask the group to leave, but it appears that businesses may not have the power to kick them out. Don’t blame business owners for these displays when they can’t force the police to give them the boot.

I don’t agree with the message being conveyed on our streets—comparisons between the President and Hitler are vulgar and ridiculous. But this episode underscores how strong the American right to free speech is, right here on Railroad Avenue. That right and what it stands for is so much bigger than a couple of folks and a crude, offensive poster.

We may not all agree with the ideas put on display by groups like the LaRouche committee. But if we start stifling viewpoints, who’s to say whether the next one might be mine, or yours? Remember that the next time you see that ugly caricature in the distance.

Time to vote

It’s been interesting to see how many people in the Lower Valley’s 45th Legislative District have written to my desk in support of their candidates. By contrast, letters have been slow for the Upper Valley’s two races. It would be nice to see a little more fire and debate from Fifth District camps.

The time to vote is nearly upon us. Please remember to cast your ballot in the all-mail general election by Tuesday, Nov. 2.

The Record will continue to publish letters to editor on our Web site as election day nears.


In consideration of how we voice our opinions in the modern world, we’ve closed comments on our websites. We value the opinions of our readers and we encourage you to keep the conversation going.

Please feel free to share your story tips by emailing editor@valleyrecord.com.

To share your opinion for publication, submit a letter through our website https://www.valleyrecord.com/submit-letter/. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We’ll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 300 words or less, we won’t ask you to shorten it.

More in Opinion

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
2022 will be a trial run for 2024 for conservatives | Roegner

Our democracy withstood an attempted coup last Jan. 6, but the planning… Continue reading

Robert Whale can be reached at rwhale@soundpublishing.com.
Good night, John Boy, from another generation | Whale

When I was growing up in the 1970s, like many others I… Continue reading

Photo courtesy of Greg Asimakoupoulos
Jan. 6, 2021: A date that will live in infamy | Guest column

Jan. 6, 2021. Sadly, for most Americans, that date has become one… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Are we driving more recklessly during the pandemic? | Roegner

Have you noticed — pre-snowstorm — more people taking chances with reckless… Continue reading

Robert Whale can be reached at rwhale@soundpublishing.com
Don’t fool yourself: COVID’s tentacles are long enough to reach even you | Robert Whale

From March 2020 until recently, it seemed to me that COVID-19 always… Continue reading

Guest columnist Greg Asimakoupoulos is chaplain at Covenant Living at the Shores in Mercer Island.
The cruising altitude of Christmas | Guest column

While flying back east over the holidays to speak at a church,… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Violent crime moves local mayors to action | Roegner

It is Christmas throughout the region, and Jim Ferrell, Nancy Backus, Dana… Continue reading

Sean Su (left), a first-generation Taiwanese American activist, was born to Taiwanese immigrants who escaped to the U.S. in the 1980s. Courtesy photo
Understanding the Taiwanese perspective | Guest column

Being Asian in America is a complex experience primarily because the term… Continue reading

Federal Way resident Bob Roegner is a former mayor of Auburn. Contact bjroegner@comcast.net.
Speculation on who might run in 2022 elections | Roegner

If you’re not planning to run for office in 2022, you can… Continue reading