Healthcare Crisis sign "offends"

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2009-09-10

Dear Editor [Highland Park IL News],

Chuck Wenk devoted the majority of his last weekly column to complain about the sign in the Public Forum park placed by the North Shore Women for Peace. The sign was up for one month, as limited specifically by city ordinance. Mr. Wenk claimed that "several readers were offended" to see the sign and its message which announced a Healthcare Crisis and spoke of a single payer option.

Mr. Wenk was surprised that the city council had "caved in" and allowed the North Shore Women for Peace to "get their messages out" -- the city having issued a many-paged ordinance detailing the place, length of time allowed, size of display, and propriety of the message (to assure no immoral, discriminatory, uncivil or rude language -- but without prior restraint as to content.)

One may wonder how a simple media-contemporary message on the Healthcare Crisis would "offend" as Mr. Wenk claims. His objection -- and his disparaging tone for the efforts of the North Shore Women for Peace -- seems to be to the principle of allowing a public forum park in the first place. "All this drivel," Mr. Wenk claims, "gets annoying." Maybe he ought to exercise his right not to go over and read their signs.

But why does he feel that a popular message of a current major issue in a controlled public forum offends? Does it not, rather, speak to a long democratic tradition of citizens attempting to raise public awareness about crucial contemporary issues? The city council of Highland Park and its mayor should be congratulated in their understanding of what a democratic society's traditions require and their forthright support of them.