Letter: An interpretation on First Amendment rights

October 9, 2018

I disagree with Ms. Patel that author Blanche Wiesen Cook was denied her First Amendment right of freedom of speech at the Lewes History Book Festival.

Ms. Cook was at the festival to discuss the FDR era and the accomplishments of Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt. While I can understand Ms. Cook wanting to make comparisons to Mrs. Roosevelt’s activism and current political events, I cannot understand Ms. Cook, a noted historian, having an inability to be objective regarding the current administration in the White House. 

Ms. Cook should have communicated her opinions by providing just the facts. It was unnecessary to name a “creature” when discussing the current state of Mrs. Roosevelt’s reforms. I enjoyed both Ms. Cook’s volumes on Mrs. Roosevelt. However, I will now find Ms. Cook’s lack of objectivity a red flag when reading her other books. When I read, especially history, my expectation is that the author has a responsibility to provide me confirmed facts, both the positive and the negative. I want the entire truth, and not an author’s personal interpretation of the truth.  

Ms. Cook has the right to voice her personal opinions, but it can, and was, deemed inappropriate to do so at a venue in which an attendee paid to hear her discuss a specific topic unrelated to Ms. Cook’s political opinions. It is growing tiresome to have to endure a celebrity’s political opinion(s) whenever they are provided a stage and an audience. While there are a few politicians I would not want to find myself in a small space with, I would not consider it appropriate to use that time to disrupt, antagonize or heckle that politician to the point they would have to vacate the restaurant. America is, and should always be, a nation of laws and not a nation of mob rule. 

We Americans are all quite capable of arriving at our own opinions and using our vote to exercise them. In about a month we will be going to the polls. Regardless of the results I hope America can return to an appreciation and commitment to our Constitution, thus ensuring all are protected under the First Amendment, all “creatures” great and small. 

Joan Nisler


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