Do YOU Wear the Chastity Belt of Censure – why do we give them the power?

November 21, 2011 at 12:37 am 12 comments

Speech can segregate you from everyone- by Chris Ritchey

ED NOTE: I did not wish to break the thread of the Lorain City Schools posts

as I felt the rest of the series ( The LCS levy) would be better served after the Thanksgiving break. That being said- there is one situation I think needs to be highlighted in the LCS discussion. Even in garnering thoughts about the “GOOD” found ( off the blog) emails worried about expressing their opinions- how sad- and as one comment stated:

For a real dialogue to take place, everyone needs to be as comfortable speaking their minds at public/townhall/board meetings as they are when cloaked in their anonymous online identities

I went through my “drafts” and found the following thoughts I had jotted down a few months ago.

I am in the middle of a “thought” and a question. Maybe I have lost the plot as I continue my journey , trying to find rhyme and reason? There are certain situations in my “time line of learning” that have led me to ask

“what are we so afraid of and why do we let these things happen?”

It started with Henry the VIII, well the television program, ” The Tudors” actually. As I watched Henry and the Roman Catholic Church and all the ins and outs, deviousness on both sides, the power plays- I thought:

OK! so Henry was king -so he had the power. but who gives even a king power – and why do we the people put up with the abuses of power by Kings, Popes and governments?

There are those that enable and those that cover up and that brings me to another thought who are “they afraid of” what is the benefit of enabling ( money, power over others, prestige, control) that they need to cover up?

Bottom line??????
We the people- the great unwashed– the fear (that collectively) we may rise up– so it is imperative “we the people” are kept somewhat in the dark because we just might light a candle of truth that will start a fire. That is the fear by the few- case in point – The happenings in the Middle East in recent months- after years of suffering under various regimes the wave of the great unwashed washed away their abusers .

However, for the most part (there are of course other reasons, apathy and nobody is listening anyway) BUT –We the people -seem, on the whole, are scared and don the “chastity belt of censure” ourselves and give the key to the powers that be . We know of things happening but for the most part we are silent – WHY?


We are scared- what of ?
In Henry’s time having our heads lopped off and our livelihoods, properties, churches confiscated, tortured and or imprisoned for years in dank dark dungeons, fodder for the rats and vermin or even burned at the stake – not a good way to leave the planet- yet millions throughout history suffered these fates.

If you were Roman Catholic you were caught between the King and the Pope one denied you your place in heaven ( errrr that is still happening even locally but at least they can’t sent out the “hit squad” from the Vatican anymore as they did in Henry’s time) the other denied you your life.

In Salem the mere mention of “witch” caused hysteria and a community to turn upon themselves.

In Nazi Germany, losing your lives, your family being treated to the unspeakable tortures thrust upon the “innocents” – it took that same nation who had experienced Henry to stand up and they did so alone for quite a few months :)-

Martin Niemöller-
“In Germany they came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”

Granted these examples are on the top of the scale of retribution so what now causes concern – why aren’t we speaking out, righting or pointing out what we feel is wrong even locally in Lorain for instance- they can’t literally lopp off our heads , burn us at the stake but….. fear is still at the core

Fear of someone who has a control over your livelihood becoming angry and using that power to cause you to lose that job , your immediate family bearing the brunt for your actions/words or losing standing in the community.

Fear of being pilloried in the press – loss of business

Being accused of being a nut case, radical or a trouble maker-

Or being sued.

Ah! you see it all the time in the comments in the forums “ you can be sued for that remark” – FYI – a short lesson in libel and slander

“Libel is any Defamation that can be seen, such as a writing, printing, effigy, movie, or statue. Slander is any defamation that is spoken and heard.

In general, there are four defenses to libel or slander: truth, consent, accident, and privilege. The fact that the allegedly defamatory communication is essentially true is usually an absolute defense; the defendant need not verify every detail of the communication, as long as its substance can be established.

Basically if what you write or say is truth you have the right in this country to speak that truth- But the mere thought of being sued ( especially by those with deep pockets) can destroy whatever money you do have-it can cost you everything to prove your innocence ( until proven guilty is the creed of LAW – not the LAWYER’S creed)- that fear also comes into play- so most keep their heads down and try to fly under the radar because that threat is always there ” Let someone else take up the cause” .

However there are also people who will support your right to free speech
the Institute for Justice is one of them who have had great success from eminent domain-to school vouchers- to freedom of speech.

The discussion on Kelly’s post basically comes down to an open and honest conversation with Lorain City Schools- without fear of retribution down the line for speaking “your ” truth/ opinions as it pertains to situations within the Lorain City School district –

The problem, as I see it is:

How does Lorain City Schools guarantee to those that wish be involved in the conversation that down the line in the months and years to come there will be no “pay back”? Lorain City Schools has a tough road because they will have to undo the practices experienced in past years.

As for me I will remember my son’s words and continue to live by them

“Nothing should be hidden or untouchable , if it is your truth and you stand behind it – no one should be able to silence you”- Christopher D. Ritchey

Free Speech by Chris Ritchey


Entry filed under: a Cow -elle opinion, Chris Ritchey, city of lorain, commentary, education, hell is other people, personal opinion. Tags: , .

Why Won’t A School Levy Pass? – Guest blogger- KB Sagert. Thanksgiving- 2011- A time “NOT” to remember – Chris Ritchey

12 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Kelly Boyer Sagert  |  November 21, 2011 at 12:52 am

    This is a great summary: How does Lorain City Schools guarantee to those that wish be involved in the conversation that down the line in the months and years to come there will be no “pay back”? Lorain City Schools has a tough road because they will have to undo the practices experienced in past years.

    More than once, I’ve known that I should speak up about something related to the school district but fear of retribution was what prevented me from doing so. Not retribution necessarily directed towards me, but towards an employee or a student.

  • 2. Loraine Ritchey  |  November 21, 2011 at 12:59 am

    You weren’t alone Kelly

  • 3. Grammy  |  November 21, 2011 at 1:26 am

    Amen. For years I’ve felt the need to be quiet so that someone else would not be punished for my legal right to have and express an opinion. I chose to be quiet so that I could at least feel that I was protecting the ones I love. The “she-bear” instinct I think.

  • 4. Lisa  |  November 21, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Many have experienced the fire of previous administrations whenever anonymous commenters dared to “light a candle of truth”.

  • 5. Loraine Ritchey  |  November 21, 2011 at 1:07 pm

    Whether the retribution would be “real” or “perceived” I think we have all at one point in our lives had the little voice in our heads say “better not take the chance” and in some cases it is the mere fact of “asking a question” that can be seen as ‘dangerous” .

    I can’t begin to tell you how many times as I ploughed through situations in the past 30 odd years that I have been “taken aside for a little “chat” or heard from others “let me deal with her “..

    In fact one attorney told my husband’s attorney as I go through the mire of my life situation now- ” To have Ernie Settle his wife down” – I believe the answer was something along the lines of
    I have two words for you “unlikely and impossible” 🙂

  • 6. Kelly Boyer Sagert  |  November 21, 2011 at 2:30 pm

    Loraine, Grammy and Lisa . . . well, looks like we’re in agreement, re: a HUGE issue that needs to change. We need to feel safe in offering opinions and perspectives.

  • 7. Grammy  |  November 22, 2011 at 12:45 am

    I remember a situation that I encountered that exemplies the negative feeling many have about speaking out. It was in the 1990’s when LCS was going for a tax levy. The schools were going to be stripped of ALL extra curricular activities, no money. When parents went to the school board meeting to find out about potential waivers for students that might leave, we were told by the Athletic Director that there would be NO waivers. I had a child nominated for a service academy who really could not write and tell them that his school went belly-up and he would have no extra-curriculars to add to his application packet. Couldn’t do what some of his peer did, lie about where he lived, move out of the city so he could go somewhere else and complete his education, I was an employee who in fact believed in our school system. I was further told by that same Athletic Director that I was totally wrong for even questioning the decision. I informed him that I was speaking as a parent not as an employee but did feel very threatened. I did what I had to do as a parent for my child. I do hope that this Board and administrators thinks before they do something like this again, especially since we haven’t recovered from the situation in 1990’s yet.

    I hope that the dialogue can open and move us forward. Tell us what we need to know as your partners, not as your “subjects”. Give us insight into the situations you face, in language we can understand. Let us see what the expenses are and maybe we can help you find a solution. Maybe having meetings at the beginning of the school year in town at the high school instead of at Saw Mill Creek will show some good faith. Maybe instead of feeding everyone so they will come, we invite them nicely without threats or snide remarks. Maybe we should all just share. Believe that your citizens are your partners and do want to help. Stop being on the defensive, rather give us the tools to help.

  • 8. Loraine Ritchey  |  November 22, 2011 at 1:18 pm

    and retailiation can come in all forms 🙂 Brian will tell you he and I went against a certain editor of the MJ – Cole -( we were vocal about the RSO situation and the “importing” in of such into our neighborhood from different counties for profit and were looking to stop the practice) …….I found it ironic that although the “registered sex offenders” in the articles did not have their home addresses published – Brian and I were front page with our details and the street and number where we lived…. can you imagine the implication here we were the “opposition” to people who were known rapists and parolees who also had GBH, and all sorts of other criminal activities in their record being drawn a map to where we lived……

    “that woman” was the moniker bestowed by Cole 🙂
    I have been called much worse… I have been lied about- lied to – had the smiling faces pretend understand and do what they can( for one scenario or another) and the moment you walk out the door well….. accused of having an agenda……… lately been called “dangerous” hmmmmmmmmmmmm difficult to work with- by a former publisher ( newspaper) I wouldn’t fudge circulation figures in a report ….

    AND the fact you “ask” a question is sometimes as bad as having an opinion 🙂

  • 9. Peter Potamus  |  November 23, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    It appears that my contribution to this discussion was contained in the other KBS thread

  • 10. Peter Potamus  |  November 24, 2011 at 6:17 am

    truly, that “speech can segregate you from everyone” poster is a work of art…. “talent” living on after the passing of its creator

  • 11. Loraine Ritchey  |  November 24, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    Yes Peter, I am very fortunate to have so many pieces of Chris’s work that I can use to illustrate my posts- works that I know he would have tossed away or stored never to see the light of day bring me comfort and still speak ……..

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