Billy Baer was arrested in May 2014 at a Gilford School board meeting for speaking out about a book the school district gave to his 14 year-old daughter to read for class.. The book was ‘Nineteen Minutes.’ it included sexually explicit and violent content to which Bear rightly objected. Baer was arrested and charged. His case has just been thrown out by a Circuit court judge.
(Union Leader) Circuit Court Judge James M. Carroll said Baer, while said to be unruly at the meeting, was exercising his right to free speech at the meeting and should not have been arrested, an act that Carroll described as “chilling.”
“…individuals, from time to time, may be disruptive but the disruptiveness should not be cause for an arrest,” Carroll wrote in his decision.
“The court does not find the actions of the defendant to be criminal in nature, which is necessary in the ordering of restrictions on a citizen’s liberties in First Amendment considerations. The court finds that the defendant’s action never created a breach of peace sustaining a criminal complaint,” he wrote in his Dec. 14 decision.
“The sequence of the arrest actions cause pause by the court as to the chilling, if not silencing of a citizen by the state, for actions which do not warrant a criminal arrest nor conviction,” he wrote.
Baer is quoted further on the larger unresolved problem. He was lucky to be familiar with the law and able to fight the arrest. Far too many people are bullied into pleading guilty when they’ve done nothing wrong. The rest of society is then intimidated into (in this case) speaking out for fear of arrest and conviction.
William Baer has been exonerated but mightier-than-thou boards and committees have in no way been discouraged from using the threat of arrest to silence the very citizens who elected them.
There is also the matter of meeting rules erected by these petty tyrants, including in this case the Gilford School Board, to prevent opposition and stifle debate.
That situation remains unresolved and must be challenged.
Neither the district nor the police have commented on the judges order to my knowledge.
H/T Jorge Mesa-Tejada
Originally posted January 1st, 2015 15:39