You Don’t Say

June 5, 2000

By Scot Lehigh at The Boston Globe

Free speech is devalued. Courts snub the First Amendment, politicians chill dissent, campuses stifle unpopular views. It's time we speak up.

Boston City Councilor Michael Ross conceived the idea as a tribute to liberty: Designate a part of City Hall Plaza as a Speaker's Corner where citizens can come to hold forth and be heard on the issues of the day.

London's Hyde Park features just such a spot, where, on any given Sunday, activists, orators, and agitators can hold forth, and in the process add to the richness and texture of the city.

For Ross, son of a man who survived five years in Nazi concentration camps, a Speaker's Corner would be a perfect addition for a city with Boston's history.

''It's a celebration of free speech,'' says Ross. ''Boston and New England are the home of the American Revolution and I would argue we are the birthplace of dissent.

'' That we may well be. Yet one would hardly know it today.

With alarming acquiescence, modern Massachusetts has slid into a culture of speech suppression, a place where political leaders chill debate by punishing dissenters and where cultural correctness too often trumps respect for an open, freewheeling civic dialogue...