The abridged version


    This letter begins with a legal item, one of many like precedents regarding Free Speech. Pasadena, California. Federal Court ruling, 1995: “The City Council cannot pass rules of decorum. You cannot edit or restrict people’s speech. It only must be a matter of public concern.”

    At the City Council meeting of a week ago Monday, Joan House interrupted a statement I was making and said I could not use a phrase. I was outraged. I contested her, and she said she would decide what words were good or bad, and she would also be the judge of, the arbiter of conduct.

    I protested vigorously, and she gavelled me down. I never got to finish my statement. It was not profane and the subject was of public concern.

    I cannot allow this to happen to our city.

    There is an attempt here by Joan House to squelch public input if she disagrees with the speaker’s choice of words or actions. Squelching public input is also a good device to squelch public opposition. That is why it is prohibited.

    This letter actually begins in 1946, in the Philippines. I am about to go home, after being in the South Pacific for some time. I weigh 120 pounds, have recurring bouts of malaria, but I was going home! Two days before I was to leave, I went to the Armed Forces Cemetery outside of Manila. I wasn’t really quite sure why I had come there, to stare at thousands of graves, crosses, star of Davids, some graves only with a name, year of birth, year of death. One for every man who died for his country — our country — for you, for the ideals upon which this nation was founded.

    And then, it suddenly dawned on me. I had come to pay tribute. I had come also because I felt guilty. I was going home and they would stay there forever. I then decided I would pay my tribute to these men by an oath that I would defend their ideals for them, whenever, wherever it was necessary.

    It is now necessary.

    Joan House, do not attempt to stifle speech by citizens of this community. I will fight this every legal way that I can.

    Joan House is not entitled to dictate what words can be spoken, or in what manner they are presented. Joan House resorts to repression, because she fails to execute her position as mayor effectively. She knows that, and the knowledge turns her into a control addict. That is my sincere belief.

    People are guarantied freedom of speech, and those people must be held responsible for what they say — judged by the community, not Joan House.

    Until you renounce your statements made at the meeting, Ms. House, I will oppose you.

    I believe it is important for everyone in our community to see the tape of that meeting. It speaks for itself. If you agree with me, please call City Hall to express your feelings about freedom of speech.

    Joan House must not be allowed to become Malibu’s speech dictator.

    Gene Wood