First Amendment Rights
Trampled Upon Locally
By Curt Middleton
I was going to pen a news story concerning incidents related to the title of this missive. But, upon clearer reflection I determined I could not maintain that “third person” omnipotent voice needed to write an objective news item. This is because I am incensed.
I am outraged and quite incredulous about a conspiracy preventing representatives of the Lehigh Acres Gazette from covering local news. Robert J. Anderson, publisher of the Gazette, was prohibited from covering a gathering of politicians hosted yesterday, Thursday Oct. 25, 2012, by the Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce. Here’s a re-cap of the events leading up to Anderson being Gestapo-like barred from basically doing his job:
- Wednesday night David Deetscreek, a chamber member, informed Anderson that if he attempted to attend the chamber event, Eugen Borosch would have local law enforcement remove him from the premises.
- Anderson, wishing to be proactive, called Capt. Ron Curtis of the Lee County Sheriff’s Dept.,Bravo District (Lehigh Acres) commander, asking him how this could possibly be legal.
- Curtis approached Borosch, who owns the building where the chamber rents space, asking him why he intended to ban Anderson from attending the event. According to Curtis, Borosch said he did not like what Anderson wrote in the Gazette.
- Curtis informed Anderson that if he did attempt to attend the event, Anderson would be issued a trespass citation, a misdemeanor offense, requiring a court appearance to answer the charge. Furthermore, Curtis told Anderson that if he then still refused to leave he would be arrested.
ARRESTED? Did Lehigh Acres enter some diabolical time warp sending the community back to Borosch’s native Germany of the 1930s-40s where civil rights were not only disregarded, but abolished? Isn’t it this incredibly ironic? Think about it. A German-born local businessman would trample upon First Amendment rights banning a news organization from attending a function where political candidates running for election on Nov. 6, 2012, were appearing to solicit support.
Why? Because he doesn’t agree with what appears in the Gazette.
Curtis, thinking it may be a personal vendetta, asked Borosch if a different representative from the Gazette could attend without incident. Borosch said no. Obviously his motivation is not personally influenced, or personnel-influenced. He doesn’t agree with the words that appear in the Gazette so, since he owns the building, he believes he has the authority to ban whomever he likes.
Borosch doesn’t like the Gazette because it prints words he doesn’t like…or possibly read by local residents. Hmm?
Why would a man who has voluntarily made a decision to live in America feel it necessary to trample upon American freedoms? Perhaps Borosch still doesn’t understand the “American Way.” Maybe he has trouble dealing with adversity, dealing with something, some actions, some words he feels shouldn’t be written, spoken, read or heard. Maybe Borosch doesn’t understand America, hasn’t heard about the Constitution or if he did, why would he flagrantly reject upholding it? This situation reminds me of a quote from one of my favorite movies, The American President (1995) where the character of President Andrew Shepherd (played by Michael Douglas) said:
“America isn’t easy. America is advanced citizenship. You gotta want it bad, ’cause it’s gonna put up a fight. It’s gonna say “You want free speech? Let’s see you acknowledge a man whose words make your blood boil, who’s standing center stage and advocating at the top of his lungs that which you would spend a lifetime opposing at the top of yours. You want to claim this land as the land of the free? Then the symbol of your country can’t just be a flag; the symbol also has to be one of its citizens exercising his right to burn that flag in protest. Show me that, defend that, celebrate that in your classrooms. Then, you can stand up and sing about the “land of the free.”
Obviously the words appearing in the Gazette make Borosch’s blood boil, huh?
Freedom of the Press is one of those constitutional rights the Gazette personnel choose to exercise.
The U.S. Supreme Court has said newsgathering deserves some First Amendment protection. The First Amendment provides journalists “no greater right of access to property than that enjoyed by the public. Therefore, when an event occurs on nonpublic forum public property or private property, reporters may not have the right to enter if the general public is not usually allowed in.”
Was the general public allowed in at the Greater Lehigh Acres Chamber of Commerce office for the above described event? Absolutely! Was Anderson allowed in? No he was not!
However, earlier in the day, Anderson said he called Lee County Sheriff Mike Scott. According to Anderson, Scott told him not to worry – no law enforcement action would be taken if Anderson attended the event that was open to the public. He would not be banned.
Fast forward to the evening’s event at the chamber office. Since the weather was inclement, many people, including political candidates, decided to seek shelter inside the office. According to Anderson, as he was about to grasp the door to enter the chamber office, Curtis approached him asking him not to go inside.
Wasn’t Curtis present when Scott told Anderson he would not be barred by law enforcement?
Who controls local law enforcement activity…or, better yet…intimidation?
Does Borosch hold sway concerning local law enforcement activity? Does he have that kind of Gestapo-like power he can summon surrogate goons in the uniform of a Lee County Sheriff’s Department captain to do his bidding when he doesn’t like the words printed by a local news organization?
Does this sound American-like?
Ultimately, although Anderson was not hassled or abused stepping onto Borosch’s property, as long as he limited his presence to the parking lot, the Gestapo was not going to harass him. But, did Curtis acquiesce ultimately fulfilling Borosch’s original dictate that Scott affirmed would not happen?
Borosch has definitely benefited from finding his “American Way.” It’s probably not yours. I know it’s not mine. Without a Free Press…what are we?
Borosch is a successful businessman. Yet, he has used the “Royal WE” quite often in his history in Lehigh Acres convincing other individuals that he is part of their “WE.” It is more than likely Borosch’s power and money convince people to become part of his “WE.” This way he gets what he wants, such as banning a news organization from gaining access to space where the general public can go. Plus, his power and influence attracts surrogates like Mike Welch and Gary Bright, who obviously couldn’t find an independent thought even with a fully charged flashlight and an amended road map.
Does Borosch now command the Lee County Sheriff’s Department? I thought Curtis took orders from Scott? Dumb assumption, huh?
It’s not as if Borosch doesn’t like, or always bans all news organizations. My good friend and former colleague, Mel Toadvine, was allowed access representing the Lehigh Acres Citizen at the event.
Borosch just wants to ban the Gazette.
He doesn’t like its words.
“Were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers, or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter.” – Thomas Jefferson
Although Borosch does not head any government, he sure does act like he is the self-appointed Duke of his own small slice of a dictatorial duchy quite reminiscent of a failed painter who didn’t like certain words during the first half of the previous century in Borosch’s fatherland.
And that guy burned books!
Watch out Lehigh Acres! Someone get down to Gunnery Road and protect the books!
You’ll never know what additional words will piss the Burgermeister off!
Yes, Virginia, this is not a news story. These are my words…ones I’m quite sure Borosch also will not like.
Who or what is next on his list of the disallowed?