It ain't speech Mr. Minton. It is, to use Justice Blackmun's words, an "absurd and immature antic, [that] in my view, was mainly conduct and little speech." Justice Blackmun wrote those words in the dissent of Cohen v. California in 1971. He was joined in this dissent by Justice Black and Chief Justice Burger (a strict constructionist and Nixon appointee). Cohen v. California began when Paul Cohen wore a jacket, out in the mere hallway of a Los Angeles Municipal Court, which vulgarly displayed his opinion of the draft during the Vietnam War.


The Marcel Marceau boxing of Charles Roedell has nothing to do with the issue of free speech, as Minton feebly, and -- it must be stated -- hypocritically, argues; it is, quite simply, an employer/employee conduct issue.


I heartily respect and staunchly defend freedom of speech. However, Mr. Roedell crossed the free speech threshold when his antics started disrupting the conduct of business at Hesperia Unified School District board meetings. Mr. Roedell, like all interested persons, is afforded his five minutes per meeting to petition HUSD for a redress of his grievances. He is more than welcome to hold his signs up during his five minutes. He should not be afforded a further right to behave badly, and disruptively, past that time limit because it has never been afforded to other persons. Quite frankly, the affording of a private box to Mr. Roedell constitutes a privilege that is denied to those who cannot find a seat in the crowded room. Mr. Roedell's conduct, not his speech, disrupts HUSD board business which must be accomplished during these meetings, and that is not protected under our constitution.


It also can be reasonably argued that Mr. Roedell's actions fall under the so-called "fighting words" concern, making them constitutionally unprotected. But let's get back to another real issue: employer/employee relationships.


For the life of me, I cannot understand why school district employees, and only school district employees, think they should be entitled to a right that is not afforded to any other employee in this great country.


How many hard-working plumbers, truck drivers, or any other workers think that they can get up at a meeting of their employer's board of directors and hold up signs that call their bosses and their board idiotic? Would you still have a paycheck coming if you did that? How many people think that Peter Day or Beau Yarbrough could regularly tell Don Holland and Steve Lambert that the Freedom Communication, Inc board of directors is run by idiots and that they are idiots for listening to that board -- and then still have their jobs in the morning? I am darn proud of the many teachers who I have encountered working for HUSD. But I do not believe that they should be granted a right to speak and behave in any manner they so choose with impunity. Teachers are special people who deserve respect, but nobody else in any profession is, or should be, granted that right.


Bruce Minton is a proven hypocrite on this issue because he, as HUSD board president, quashed speech that truly is free and specifically permitted under the Brown Act.


When Nellie Gogley asked to speak on the agendized issue of ending HUSD's public information officer position at the HUSD meeting held at Hesperia High School, it was Minton, and only Minton, who told her that she could not speak. And it was only words, not conduct, which Nellie wanted to share. And she was a private citizen at the time. Not only is that type of speech absolutely protected under the First Amendment, but the Brown Act also specifically permits any person to speak on any agenda item prior to the board acting on that item.


Bruce Minton, who now tries to portray himself as a free speech advocate, denied both a citizen's right to speak and their right to specifically address an issue the board planned to, and did, act on; which is a specific Brown Act violation. But, as the District Attorney has previously informed him, Bruce Minton, a lawyer, violates the Brown Act when it suits his purposes. And now Minton hypocritically tries to portray himself as a defender of free speech because it suits him, even though his opinion on the issue is misguided. He may be a lawyer, but that certainly does not make him a constitutional lawyer or scholar. Hmmm ...  perhaps it is an election year in which his seat will be open. Beware the politician, like Bruce Minton, who says one thing but does another.