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Letter: He shouldn’t hold office

The First Amendment is important to me. I’m not convinced Isaac Mass understands it. In 2009, he showed a lack of regard for the public’s right to gather and be heard in the town square. I don’t feel he should hold town office.

I often stand on the Greenfield Common on Saturdays. It’s always been partly about Freedom of Speech and Assembly. I’ve done so since our trumped-up invasion of Iraq — when dissent was painted as disloyalty.

In 2009, I appeared with Mary Siano and Mary McClintock at the Greenfield Licensing Commission. Mr. Mass was a member. The commission had granted a West Springfield gentleman permission to use the opposite side of the street to voice pro-war sentiments. He showed up with signs that were at times mocking — aimed at us. I counseled our people to ignore them.

But, at some point, someone from our group walked across the street to speak with him, carrying a sign. That apparently sparked a complaint and a License Commission appearance ensued.

The commission voiced concerns about our being a “safety hazard,” though we’d peacefully occupied that space on the grass for years. Someone could get injured, they intoned. This, even as high-schoolers collected donations between moving vehicles. Mr. Mass suggested we be moved off the common to a small, less-visible site — far from the town center. Out of concern for ours’ and the public’s safety, he explained. Incredulous, I asked, “Really, you would have us move out of the public square?”

I hadn’t had the benefit of years of law school Mr. Mass had at the time, but I understood the fundamentals of democracy. The Constitution would never support his position. Commissioner William Allen understood though, steering the conversation back to the facts of a simple permit renewal. It was granted shortly thereafter.

KARL MEYER

Greenfield

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