Art Hackney claims employed activists exercised a long history of speaking out in the public square, by addressing potential petitioners. Interesting point. That is our tradition. We do have a town square. He says they exercised free speech. Another interesting point. Who can argue against free speech? I generally agree with him on these points. But not in this specific instance. These individuals were not acting freely. They were employed. They were acting under paid direction.
This reminds me of the early industrialists. They disagreed with peacefully striking workers making a stand against unsafe working conditions and inadequate wages. So, these business owners paid a bat-wielding “security” force to “deal” with it. The power brokers exercised their “free speech” through third parties. Remember how that worked out?
Obviously, things have gotten much more subtle and nuanced since then. Tactics have evolved, but the strategy is the same. Those with money and power trying to resists the honest, grassroots, organic, political will of the people.
Free speech? No! My fellow Alaskan, paid speech isn’t free speech.
— Mike Citro
Anchorage Daily News