OATH-KEEPERS VS. OATH-BREAKERS
By Attorney Jack
May 22, 2014
Josephine County, Oregon -- A long time ago, Thomas Paine urged civil resistance to tyranny. He wrote, “Those who would dare oppose not only tyranny, but the tyrant, stand forth.” He would have been proud at the latest business session of the Josephine County Board of Commissioners.
There is a group active in southern Oregon known as the “OathKeepers.” They consist of people who at one time or another in the course of their careers have sworn an oath to preserve and protect the Constitution and laws of the United States and have honored that oath. They are politically active and when they see officials and politicians disregard that oath they will deliver a political protest. Such a confrontation between oath-keepers and oath-breakers occurred last night at the weekly business session of the Josephine County Board of County Commissioners.
The agenda was extremely short calling for board action on only one item, a proposed grant award for creation of a public sobering center. The person responsible for presentation of the proposal - from the County Legal Office - did not appear and the acting Chief of Police for Grants Pass gave the board a thumbnail description of what they were seeking. The agenda then quickly proceeded to matters of public concern presented by members of the public. It was then that the Oathkeepers voiced their objections.
The first person to speak was an Oathkeeper who voiced complaint the Jack Swift had presented the BoCC with a petition for an Open Roads Ordinance back in January and that the board had failed to do anything in response to that petition. He called for its adoption. A second Oathkeeper spoke to his personal concern regarding the importance of open roads in the public lands and urged action on the petition. Jack Swift then took the podium but was shut off by the Chair - Commissioner Walker.
As the OathKeepers had spoken, the others in attendance had stood in mute support of what each was saying. Commissioner Walker found this disconcerting. When they again rose in support of Swift, Walker told them to sit down. They did not. Walker repeated the command and someone from the audience observed there is no rule against standing in the Anne Basker. Whereupon, Frau Fuehrer, as she is affectionately known in JoCo, said she was making a rule and her rule was that the audience could not stand to demonstrate support for a speaker. She repeated the command to sit down and when the Oathkeepers (and the rest of the audience by that time) failed to do so, she adjourned the meeting without completing the balance of the agenda. Swift, of course, got to say nothing.
There are, admittedly, many obscure parts of our Constitution and an official might be excused for occasionally overlooking one. But the very first item in our Bill of Rights speaks to rules about the expression of political opinion. It provides that there shall be no rules “abridging the freedom of speech . . . . or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for the redress of grievances.” Our courts have expanded that constraint to reach even the public performance of lewd acts which one might find somewhat wonderful. But they have never wavered from the recognition that political speech and the expression of political opinion is the highest and most sacred of free speech.
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The right to silent and peaceful expression of support for a particular political position in the appropriate political forum is the essence of the first amendment. Denial of that most fundamental of protections against tyranny is intolerable. Cheryl Walker has shown herself to be nothing more than a petty and arbitrary tyrant. She needs to be recalled and she needs to be recalled now.
© 2014 Jack Swift - All Rights Reserved
Jack Swift is an retired attorney.
Actively involved in the Republican Party and local politics, Jack would
love to see honest Constitution following representatives in local Josephine
County government. Jack believes if we are to save America from the grip
of evil, people must get involved on the local level and expose wrongdoers
at every opportunity. He is putting that belief in practice.