Media coverage of the racist and homophobic comments of Sevier County Commissioner Warren Hurst has gone international. It remains to be seen how the Sevier County Government will respond.
Supporters of Commissioner Hurst seem to think it's an issue of free speech. In fact, they have organized a rally to support him. It was scheduled for November 2, but it has now been moved to November 9.
Why was the date moved? According to part of the event description:
"*The rally at Patriot Park has been rescheduled and venue changed*
There's been opposition to the previous rally. A need of permits,security,and hefty insurance claims have surfaced.
*note the date change(a week from initial rally)
*note the time change(4p-6p)
* venue change to undisclosed location by invite only
* invite by PM
*local Reps and speakers
*counter support strategy given at
this masterminds meeting
*description changed from rally to
meeting due to large indoor venue
*heavy carbs and caffeine"
Well, we can't wait to see what the "masterminds" have come up with!
Free Speech: One thing we know they're thinking about is free speech. But is calling for the resignation or censure of an elected official a free speech issue? It certainly is if citizens are intimidated from being able to challenge elected officials on their positions. Elected officials have a great deal of power to say what they want. Indeed, they have more of a platform to do so than the average citizen.
If Commissioner Hurst had, for example, said during a county commission meeting that he proposes closing Dollywood for 10 months of the year and there was an outcry, would anyone think the public outcry was an effort to cut off his free speech? If Commissioner Hurst decided to call a fellow commissioner a rat during a meeting and the Chair banged the gavel, calling him out of order, would anyone think his free speech rights were the issue?
What Commissioner Hurst and some of his supporters want is a SPECIAL RIGHT to say whatever they want about race, gender, and sexuality without a response by the public. But the response will continue. We'll see you at the Sevier County Commission meeting on November 18. And you can sign the petition calling for the Commission to censure Commissioner Hurst AND adopt inclusive policies here.