Free speech!

Brief thoughts on some of the events making news from around Franklin County and the North Quabbin area:

Dateline Orange: We’re disturbed to read that some Mahar officials may be infringing on students’ rights to free expression. According to suspended Mahar teacher Michael Magee and others, students have been called to the office and told to stop texting, tweeting and posting on Facebook their opposition to his suspension. We don’t know the ins and outs of Magee’s suspension, and whether it was justified, but we do know that the First Amendment applies to high school students — as long as their speech does not constitute bullying or harassment. We also know that, contrary to Mahar’s assertion, Magee is entitled to a public hearing of charges against him — the district cannot insist that the School Committee meeting be held in an executive session, as long as Magee himself wants it public. We suggest that Supt. Michael Baldassarre spend a few moments over the next few days reading both the First Amendment and the state’s Open Meeting Law.

Dateline Greenfield: We’re glad to see Mayor William Martin joining local businesses and organizations in supporting Massachusetts’ annual Bay State Bike Week from May 11 to May 19. A number of events are planned locally, culminating in Greenfield’s Bike-to-Work Day on Friday, May 17. There will be three free meals offered during the week to those who ride their bikes to work: breakfast at Unity Park in Turners Falls on Monday, May 13, from 8 to 10 a.m.; a Bike Breakfast at the Olver Transit Center, 12 Olive St. in Greenfield on Tuesday, May 14, at noon; and lunch on Friday, May 17, from 12 to 2 p.m. at Bicycle World on Federal Street in Greenfield. It’s a worthy effort.

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