The costs of free speech made clear by debate
The nation received a good lesson in free speech over the past couple of weeks.
The CEO of Chick-fil-A publicly expressed his opinion about same-sex marriage – hes against it.
Several politicians – possibly looking for votes or possibly just voicing their support for equal rights – expressed their opposition to that message and made it clear that the chain restaurant wasnt welcome in their city or state.
Opponents of same-sex marriage declared their support for Chick-fil-A CEO Dan Cathy by lining up to patronize the restaurants on Wednesday.
Supporters of same-sex marriage staged National Same-Sex Kiss Day at Chick-fil-A on Friday.
In the meantime, Americans discussed just what free speech means. Should consumers express their views by boycotting or patronizing a restaurant? Should the social views of a companys leader affect consumers decisions to buy from that company? Should elected politicians seek to keep a company away from the area they represent based solely on the CEOs views on a social issue?
In an era where civics is becoming lost amid the upheaval in public education, the Chick-fil-A controversy has offered Americans a real-life lesson about the First Amendment. And it should serve as a reminder that the Constitution supports free speech precisely to allow Americans to make controversial statements with which many people disagree.
Outdated Electoral College narrows White House race
If you live in Indiana, your vote for president wont matter.
While Americans are taught that every vote counts, the cold truth is that in todays political climate, the ancient Electoral College has rendered voters for president in 41 states essentially powerless this year.
If you are an Ohioan, though, your vote is golden.
Absent some sort of tragedy, Barack Obama or Mitt Romney will lead the entire nation from 2013 through 2016. But realistically, voters in just nine states will decide who is elected. In addition to Ohio, the two candidates are focusing their attention on Florida, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, Colorado, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada and Virginia. If you dont live there, dont expect to see much of either candidate in person.
Most Americans would likely never approve of the way voting originally worked under the Electoral College. Then, electors were not beholden to vote for the candidate who won their state. The system was deliberately established to avoid democracy and allow – as Alexander Hamilton wrote in The Federal Papers – the president to be selected by men most capable of analyzing the qualities adapted to the station, and acting under circumstances favorable to deliberation, and to a judicious combination of all the reasons and inducements which were proper to govern their choice.
Since then, women have won the right to vote, senators are chosen by voters rather than state legislatures, and electors vote for the candidate who won their state. But the candidate who receives the most votes – as Al Gore did in 2000 – does not necessarily win, and candidates now focus only on the states that can make a difference.
Fast action on river levels
City Utilities leaders proved they are taking residents complaints about lowering the river levels during the summer recreation season seriously.
Less than 10 days after city officials dropped the rivers to complete needed levee repairs, they raised the river levels back again. The river levels downtown should be at normal recreational levels just in time for the William Wells Celebration today.
City Utilities staff raised the tainter gate on the Hosey Dam on July 23, draining the downtown pool – the section of the St. Marys, Maumee and St. Joseph rivers between the Hosey Dam and the St. Joseph River Dam and Pumping Station near Johnny Appleseed Park. Fortunately, the levee work requiring the lower water levels was completed ahead of schedule, and city workers were able to close the tainter gate on Wednesday.
When the gate is closed, about nine miles of river downtown can usually be used for boating. When the river levels are lowered, boats with motors need to be removed. The lower rivers also look less attractive and smell more unpleasant for people using the Rivergreenway.