Censorship, illegality abound as group tramples the Bill of Rights
(First of two part investigation)
This story will deal with a very serious topic–censorship and exclusion because of a differing point of view.
The following public announcement appeared in the East County Times:
Citizen Concern Meeting: The East Baltimore County Republican Club is sponsoring a Citizen Concern Meeting with Speaker Councilman Todd Crandell on Tuesday, Feb.7, a 7 p.m. at the American Legion Dundalk, Post 58, 33300 Dundalk Ave. For info. contact Carlton Clendaniel at 443-415-5155 or Eastcountyrepublicianclub09@gmail.com.
As Baltimore County’s newest news website, I wanted to ensure that the Post was in attendance at this meeting. So, as always, I confirmed the details by calling Mr. Clendaniel and asking him if the meeting open to the public and, therefore, the media.
Mr. Clendaniel was a very nice and congenial gentleman who responded that the meeting was open to the public, and that the media was invited.
Yet, when I showed up at the American Legion, that is not the response I received from a board member of the ECRC, Mr. Steve Dishon.
Mr. Dishon and I know each other and exchanged hellos. As I was unloading my camera tripod, Mr. Dishon asked me what I was doing. I explained to him that I was there to cover the meeting as a member of the press. Mr. Dishon responded that might not be possible. I asked him why, and he responded that he would go inside and check with his fellow board members.
When I walked inside with my camera and sat down with Mr. Dishon, he asked why I was there to capture video of the event. He further stated that he would not allow someone to do a “hatchet job” on the councilman. My response was, “Steve, we don’t do ‘hatchet jobs’ on anyone; we simply seek the truth.”
I also told him that, in all of my years with Patch and now the Post, not one time has anyone labeled any article that I have done as a “hatchet job.” People may not like what I say or agree with what I say, but I always report news based in facts.
I also reminded Mr. Dishon that the Post had checked with the current President of the ECRC, Mr. Clendaniel, who confirmed that the meeting was open to the public and the media.
By that time, at least one other member of the ECRC came along and let me know that I was not welcome. I asked, “By what right do you have to bar me, as either a private taxpaying citizen and/or a representative of the media, from attending this event?”
Mr. Dishon responded by saying that the ECRC was a private 501 (c)3 group, which granted the right to bar me from the proceedings. In addition, both Mr. Dishon and the other ECRC member said that the Eagle and Times had attended previous meetings but did not publish any reports. I then asked if any other media publication had ever covered one of the ECRC’s events, and their collective response was “no.”
With that said, I took my camera and went home. However, I advised Mr. Dishon that the Post would conduct an investigation into this censorship and report on it accordingly.
Oh, and by the way, remember the statement that no other news source publicized one of the ECRC’s events? That seems to be false, as evidenced in the picture below:
This incident is nothing more than the blatant censorship of a private citizen, let alone a member of the media, to suppress an opposing point of view. This type of behavior is running rampant in our nation, which is in direct violation of our First Amendment right to freedom of speech.
For now, I will put this issue to rest as I continue to ponder the overarching problem. That will help to fuel part two of the investigation, in which we will look at the following issues:
- Does a political group even have the right to exist as a 501 (c)3?
- Was the censorship of the Post by the leadership of the ECRC a civil rights violation?
- What legal action (or actions) can be taken?
- Can Councilman Crandell be held accountable for the censorship of one of his constituents at an event where he was featured?
Folks, based upon initial research, these are all serious issues involving numerous violations of applicable law. To that end, the Post urges you to stayed tuned for Part 2.