Leader Blues

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

EDITORIALS>>Free speech

Rod Bryan, the quixotic candidate for governor who fueled his car with old vegetable oils from restaurants and raised novel ideas about conserving energy and taxes at the Capitol, was entirely too quaint for most voters, at least for those who even knew he was on the ballot last fall.

He hooted at the major candidates for repeating platitudes and ducking issues, if you can hoot in a mild voice, but no one paid attention.

But most people will think the young man deserves better than he received from the local constabulary this week. Bryan, who ran as an independent after circulating petitions to get on the ballot, hooted at a couple of police cars in the same way that he squawked at Mike Beebe and Asa Hutchinson.

Bryan was bicycling to work Thursday, as he does most days to save fuel and reduce carbon emissions in the atmosphere of his city, when two Little Rock police cars whizzed by him at the crest of a hill on a quiet stretch of West Seventh Street.
Bryan estimated that they were traveling 80 mph, but their lights were not flashing. He thought that was dangerous.
“Turn on your lights,” he hollered after them. The police mission was not such an emergency that one of the cars could not stop.

A policeman collared Bryan and asked him what he said. Bryan repeated the remark. The policeman radioed for back-up and Bryan was soon surrounded by squad cars. Bryan stood his ground that they should have had their warning flashers on and that he had a right to say that.

He was cited for disorderly conduct. The officers explained that Bryan had shown a “dislike” for how policemen do their job. You apparently cannot do that in the United States of America, or at least in Little Rock, Ark.

Now Bryan will have to take time off from work at the bakery to pedal down to the courts building to defend his First Amendment right to free speech. That ought to be an easy morning’s work, but nowadays you never know.