Maybe It’s Not the Government’s Job to Set Values for a Community?

City Hall in Grand Forks Grand Forks Herald

The Grand Forks City Council is struggling with an “inclusion resolution” which, if passed, would create for the city a statement of values (albeit one without the force of law).

The problem local government officials are finding is that it’s hard to define a set of values for a community. From the Grand Forks Herald:

[City Council member Sandi] Marshall introduced an “inclusion resolution” at Monday’s council committee meeting. It’s a statement of values — not a law or regulation — that disavows bigotry and advertises Grand Forks’ better nature. Notably, it says “promoting differentiation or superiority” for a list of identities, like race, religion, gender identity and sexual orientation, is “scientifically false, morally condemnable, hateful, socially unjust and dangerous.”

Marshall said she’s trying to officialize a positive, inclusive city philosophy — not create a code of conduct. And while most agree Grand Forks ought to be inclusive, the resolution’s details are proving politically charged, drawing passionate public comment and leaving city leaders debating its exact language. The debate is reminiscent of the city’s 2015 consideration of a diversity commission — a never-formed group that would have advocated for local minorities’ interests.

What a waste of time.

No reasonable person wants harassment or bigotry in their community, but is this sort of exercise in completely unenforceable policy really going to address those issues?

What’s more, this sort of a statement of values is contradictory to the government’s responsibility to protect our rights.

Per the article, this proposed resolution describes bigotry as “dangerous,” and yet if some racial hate group wanted to organized a rally in Grand Forks it would be the city government’s responsibility to allow speech they’ve simultaneously condemned. Because, despite what some think, even hateful points of view have protection under the 1st amendment.

That’s actually why this resolution cannot be legally binding. If the city government attempted to enforce their condemnation of “promoting differentiation” for things like “gender identity” or “sexual orientation” we’d have Grand Forks Police Department perp walking priests out of mass.

That would be both absurd and unconstitutional. And some members of the city government have actively tried to inhibit the free exercise of speech in their community. Back in 2015 Councilman Bret Weber attempted to bully a local theater that was set to play host to a controversial anti-Islam speaker, even going so far as to suggest an organized effort to use up parking spaces around the venue.

Because we all know an inclusive community is one that tries to block controversial speech certain politicians disagree with.

This resolution is an exercise in narcissism. A group of politicians engaged in pontification about an policy which has no point. This endeavor will accomplish nothing other than to signal to the rest of us how virtuous this particular group of politicians are.

Government is not the venue for this sort of debate. These discussions should happen in our homes. Our churches. Our social gatherings and civic clubs.

Values come from the bottom up, not the top down.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and the host of the Rob (Re)Port on Fargo-based WDAY AM970 from noon-2pm weekdays.

Related posts

Top