Saturday, June 7, 2008

Fry Should Resign to Preserve F & M's Reputation

Having read comments by others (some of which are in response to my earlier letter posted above), it seems to me some are simply missing the point.

1. President John Fry's alleged "right to privacy" is not enshrined in the Bill of Rights. The two journalists' rights to freedom of speech (however narrowly defined), freedom of peaceful assembly, and freedom from unlawful search and seizure are guaranteed by the Bill of Rights.

2. The newspaper box in question was being installed on public property WITHIN THE PUBLIC RIGHT OF WAY, i.e. the unpaved public portion that adjoins roads. It is not President Fry's place to decide whether or not the journalists were trespassing there but the County.

3. The journalists, while standing across the road from Fry's residence (including one not banned from F&M grounds), were arrested and one beaten by campus police despite the fact he was not resisting arrest. This was a public lynching--a warning to all who would dare criticize President Fry. It has been many decades since behavior of this kind was tolerated in the United States.

4. It turns out the very same campus police which assaulted and arrested the two journalists for installing a newspaper box on the F&M side of Marietta Avene (so that it could be chained to a post) were the custodians for five days of the box removed earlier in the week from the other side of Marietta (where it could not be secured!) This was for no apparent reason other than the box was offensive to President Fry.

What right has a private security force to remove, or minimally to hide, a newspaper box situated on private property NOT belonging to F&M and falling within the public right of way? The only answer that does not make a complete mockery of the Bill of Rights is NONE WHATSOEVER.

5. President Fry recently justified F&M not contributing more towards city taxes on the grounds that it maintains a private campus police force serving the public good. For President Fry to countenance campus police force brutally silencing his critics is comparable to the Mayor dispatching the city police to beat up and arrest peaceful demonstrators. It is un-American and unacceptable.

6. President Fry and other high profile community leaders have an obligation to conduct themselves in a manner respectful of the Bill of Rights. Creating a permissive atmosphere whereby a college police force remains in custody of a privately owned newspaper box that had been placed on public property, and then beat up and arrest anyone who tries to replace it, is a clear violation of the spirit, if notthe letter, of the Bill of Rights and the laws of our country.

For the sake of preserving F&M's otherwise sterling reputation, President Fry should resign.