Op-Ed: No Win Situation Removing Remote Public Comment

By Timothy Moorhouse

Last week the Santa Barbara City Council voted to remove remote-style public comment.

I understand the main reasoning for this is because there’s some online movement for MAGA people/white nationalists to take over local proceedings during the public comment section by calling in and saying disgusting and vile racist statements. I hope these people do not live in our community, although looking at some of the hateful comments on local social media pages it appears they might.

It appears Councilmembers Eric Friedman and Oscar Gutierrez got into a verbal row over the choice to temporarily remove the remote comments, both sharing interesting insights into a complicated issue.

For what it’s worth, the City of Santa Barbara is not legally obligated to provide remote comments, it was only done so during the pandemic.

I agree that if someone wants to take three minutes of the council, and the public’s time with their idiotic racist ideologies, have the guts to walk down to City Hall and do it in person so we can all see your face. Hiding behind a phone and a fake name is cowardly.

I also agree that we should not limit free speech. Offering remote comment has made the community more engaged in local issues. People with disabilities, the elderly, parents, and others are now able to easily participate from the comfort of their own homes. The more locals we have engaged, the better our community will be for it. I agree with Councilmember Gutierrez on this point. Even the most vile and disgusting of voices are allowed to have a voice, that’s a bedrock component of our country’s free speech.

On a personal level, I’m sick and tired of the racists, homophobes, sexists, and bigots having their “opinions” heard simply because they are the loudest and most unhinged. Their hate should not be normalized and we should not grow numb to it.

With that, I’m here to write there does not seem to be a perfect solution to this problem. Perhaps our Councilmembers can take a bit more time to see all viewpoints before making a decision moving forward.

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  1. Oh really. How about the attempted insurrection/vandalism at the Whitehouse a couple weeks ago? How about the sacking of the DNC HQ a couple days ago?
    Left wing fascism, neoliberalism, marxist, woke ideology predicted on radical change and revolution will NEVER succeed in this country. The tide is turning. The masses are tired of failed economic policies, failed foreign policies, failed energy policies, being the laughing stock of the entire world. All led by a feckless, incompetent, incoherent, compromised administration.
    How about them apples?

    • Wow. Almost everything wrote is wrong. Last week’s DC demonstrations had absolutely nothing to do with a USA insurrection and everything to do with calling for an end to the horror in Gaza and Israel. I’m pretty sure whether you’re pro-Israel and their right to defend themselves or pro-Palestinian and their desire to not be occupied, you still can see the need to end the violence.

      You really need to take off your MAGA hat and turn off Truth Social. Perhaps a class in Political Science and World History might help. You make bold statements, Why not describe how the USA has failed economic policies (I don’t hear the rich industrialists complaining. You?) Compare and contrast the USA with say……any other western country. Go on. Give it a shot.

      What’s wrong with our energy policies? Tell us. Is there any of our privileged citizenry without fuel for the cars or electricity so they can access the internet and power up their thousand dollar Android and iPhones? Concerned about $5 gasoline? Well, that’s STILL cheaper than almost anywhere else on the planet.

      The “masses”, the right wing nutcases associated with white nationalists (83 years ago that was called nazism) and right wing Proud Boys, etc, militias account for a (very vocal) less than 10% of the citizenry. Their vocal supporters, the MAGApulicans, still only 32%. They are the ones promoting revolution, the people *you* should be scared of. Not the liberal lefties, who often have a hard time keeping on message, but one that talks of equality, hope and civility. Kind of the exact opposite of MAGA, eh?

    • SBTejano.

      Bro. Put down the Monster Energy drink. And then learn the meanings of the words you are trying to use.

      An insurrection is an attempt to overthrow a government. The protests at the WH were not remotely like that. They were protesting policy, not trying to murder government officials or overthrow government.

      “Sacking” a building is the invasion, looting, and destruction of a place. A bunch of people protested at the DNC HQ and never set foot inside.

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