Civil debate is the highest form of the freedom of speech. It is the mark of a true democracy. Without debate, Pleasanton's citizens cannot reach a consensus that is in the best interest of our community on local matters Public debate lies at the very heart of self-governance. For example, a voter may come to this forum when, in order to make an informed decision at the ballot box on Measure E, they feel the need to read or engage in debate on the pros and cons of the measure. When they cannot do so due to the actions of those who engage in such online hostility, self-governance is undermined. It is through the public dialog process that individuals learn from others and the Internet is merely the latest vehicle through which that process manifests.
The present attack across all Measure E topics on this website is not written by those writers who are either for or against Pleasanton's parcel tax measure, for such passion to participate in writing here only arises from a sincere interest in the problems facing this community. It is an attack initiated by those who care nothing about education or children, only about protecting their own interests that may or may not be best for this community.
The Pleasanton Weekly website has two features that help to encourage civil debate. The first is registration and the second is the ability of registered users to restrict comments to registered users only. I encourage the use of these tools while also recognizing that this may not be an ideal choice for some other users. Whether registered or not, the true remedy is to continue to engage in focused debate using facts and demand it of those who do not engage in it. Together, we can protect our freedom of speech from those who seek to silence it.
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