Intimidating protesters

Ohio’s Senate Judiciary Committee, chaired by Republican John Eklund, recently held its fourth hearing on Senate Bill 33 — anti-protester legislation that would limit Ohioans’ rights to peacefully assemble and protest — and allowed only eight opponents to present oral testimony.

The bill is an anti-democratic, redundant effort to protect fossil fuel industry assets while intimidating those who protest its policies. Though existing laws already charge participants in nonviolent civil disobedience, this bill singles out protests at oil and gas infrastructure for felony charges for actions normally considered misdemeanors. Violators would be subject to far more severe punishment than for actions elsewhere that risk harming people.

The bill aims to intimidate individuals and, more dangerously, nonprofit organizations that resist fossil fuel industry assaults on our health and environment. It specifies that organizations can be held liable for others’ actions through guilt by association, with penalties 10 times greater than those for individuals. This would suppress the advocacy essential to protecting our environment.

While industries have the right to protect their property, citizens also have the right to protest industrial activity they believe to be harmful. When their objectives clash, our courts can sort it out.

The process for considering this legislation was undemocratic. A truly democratic process demands that both sides have an equal opportunity to be heard. By severely limiting opponent testimony — never the case with proponent testimony — Republicans showed that their only concern was ramming the bill through.

Both the bill and the process threaten democratic rights. Both should be protested.

Barbara Kaplan, Peninsula

 

Right to life

How sad it was to see the editorial cartoon of April 14 indicating the womb of a woman was the “property of the state.” Slavery was abolished by the 13th Amendment in 1865. The “state” does not own any person or part of a person. Nor does any person own any person or part of a person since the enactment of that amendment. Each and every person is entitled to unalienable rights, as the Declaration of Independence says, as given by the creator — of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

Once a human egg is fertilized by a human sperm, nothing other than a human life can result. This human person has unalienable rights. Sadly, many of those who seek liberty in their lives seek to deny liberty to those who cannot speak for themselves, and those who seek their own selfish happiness seek to deny any chance of happiness for children who have yet to show us their first smile or let out their first laugh.

Deacon Dennis L. Smith,

Nativity of the Lord Jesus Catholic Church,

Springfield Township

 

Shaughnessy for mayor

Matt Shaughnessy, who is seeking election May 7, will make a great mayor in Green. He brilliantly takes on issues, researches them thoroughly and is not swayed by city administrators who are willing to jeopardize citizens' rights for money, power or campaign contributions. He has fought tirelessly for a more representative form of government in our city.

If elected, Shaughnessy will be the first mayor to serve with a background in law. Not only does he understand our charter, he understands the Ohio Revised Code and our constitutional freedoms. Shaughnessey brings to the table, as an attorney, litigation and negotiation experience with an ability to debate issues based on evidence and precedent. A former police officer and firefighter, Shaughnessy will be a mayor for the people and not special interests.

Susan Ridgeway, former Ward 3 Green City councilwoman