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Hammer: Giving others the right to speak is a hallmark of democracy

Hammer: Giving others the right to speak is a hallmark of democracy

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Editor:

I read with dismay the article about hecklers disrupting the meeting held at Casper College by the commissioners and health officials. The purpose of the meeting, apparently, was to give information to the public with regards to a possible mask requirement in Natrona County. The hecklers made the argument that such an order would violate their Constitutional rights as free Americans.

Apparently, these folks have not read the Constitution. Nor have I lately, but I did a little research into public safety and found this from the Legal Information Institute which is somehow affiliated with the Cornell University Law School:

“Even under the narrowest concept of the police power as limited by substantive due process, it was generally conceded that states could exercise the power to protect the public health, safety, and morals...Regulations designed to promote public safety are also well within a state’s authority.”

Our state has ceded that responsibility to the counties, so Natrona County does have the authority to create a mask mandate albeit unpopular by some county residents, but aren’t all mandates disagreeable to some. County officials should consider what is best for all county residents, and not succumb to pressure from a few malcontents. And the mandate should be rigorously enforced by law enforcement.

Masks will work to slow the spread of this deadly virus, and this contagion is much more serious that any influenza we have experienced, despite what the hecklers contend. 244,000 deaths should give us pause to consider how many more Americans must die to convince all Americans that we need to cooperate with our elected officials, doctors and scientists and do our patriotic duty to keep others safe. I wear a mask in public not for me, but for the safety of others I might encounter because I care about our state’s residents and my family.

The people who disrupted this meeting, by their actions, do not care about the well being of others. Nor did they have the decency to listen to what the county officials had to say. Giving others the right to speak is a hallmark of democracy.

JEFF HAMMER, Lander

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