Glendale Mayor Questions the Audacity of a Citizen, Gets lesson in Democracy and History
During a city council meeting, Glendale Mayor, Dave Weaver, questioned the Gall that a single Glendale resident had in submitting a complaint to the grand Jury. On the subsequent meeting, Professor Harry Zavos, lectured the Mayor on his imperialistic views and educates him on the basic principles of democracy.
Transcripts of Professor Harry Zavos Below:
It’s no secret that I filed a grand jury complain that resulted in a grand jury report. At the last council meeting the mayor said about what I did that one resident out of 174,000 had the gall–let me repeat had the gall–to criticize the council; which is to say he said that I had the of effrontery, impudence, audacity to criticize the council
The only effect that statement had on me was to bring me to this podium tonight because I believe it betrays an imperial view that has no place in a representative democratic government, where public officials are the people’s servants not the other way around. Free and robust debate–the marketplace of ideas–is the oxygen of democratic government; and, it includes private citizens who, out of conviction and a sense of duty, criticize their government. Our nation’s founders understood this when they included, as the first amendment, the constitutional prohibition against government infringing on free speech.
Nobody likes to be criticized. I know i don’t. But, criticism comes with the job of being a public official. They healthy response for a functioning democracy, i believe, is one where the public servant curbs the desire to use his authority and power to squelch criticism or dissent. Instead he responds to the content of the criticism with documented facts and reasoned argument, avoiding ad hominem attacks–attacks on the person rather than on what he said–and other rhetorical bullying tactics.
And, i believe the public servant worthy of admiration is the one that meets this standard, even though his critics may not. For, i believe being an elected official, compared to being an ordinary citizen, brings into play the principle of noblesse obligee–with the power and authority that comes with the privilege of elected office also come the obligation to meet this standard.
Everyone within the sound of my voice will decide for themselves the extent to which each individual sitting on the dias meets this standard; and, even more important, whether it is a standard to which they should be held. As for me, my formative years were the 30s and 40s where I and those around me took it for granted that a core value of our society found expression in Voltair’s famous statement, “I disagree with everything you say; but, I’ll defend with my life you’re right to say it”. I never been able, nor do I wish, to abandon that core value.
François-Marie Arouet (French; 21 November 1694 – 30 May 1778), known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher famous for his wit and his advocacy of freedom of religion, freedom of expression, and separation of church and state. Voltaire was a versatile writer, producing works in almost every literary form, including plays, poems, novels, essays, and historical and scientific works. He wrote more than 20,000 letters and more than 2,000 books and pamphlets. He was an outspoken advocate, despite the risk this placed him in under the strict censorship laws of the time. As a satirical polemicist, he frequently made use of his works to criticize intolerance, religious dogma, and the French institutions of his day.