WNW: No to Free Speech?

WNW have pulled another one of their ‘last minute’ agenda items, this one aimed at punishing two JeffCo mothers who are also school district and community volunteers, for an unrelated exercise of free speech.

At the Feb 18th Board Study Session, Julie Williams stated she believes two parent volunteers should be removed from any district committees they serve on, claiming that they made threatening tweets about her (Williams) on a district “social media site.”

In the tweets in question, the two volunteers joke about their political differences, one stating she is “too liberal” and is going to clean her guns and the other asking “will you teach me to shoot? ;)”

Apparently, because the pair had been discussing members of the board prior to this exchange, Williams thinks the tweets were aimed at her.

The facts: The tweets were not tweeted “@” Julie Williams or any member of the school board. They were not tweeted using a school district or any district related twitter account. The tweets contained no hash tags, which are the “#” sign followed by wording to help when searching twitter for specific content. (For example, #jeffcoschoolbd is often used by people tweeting about the school board.) The tweets contained no threats. The exchange took place on the personal accounts of the two mothers.

It is important to note the two parent volunteers in question have been vocal critics of some of the actions of this new school board.

Williams not only brought this up at the Feb 18th meeting, but also earlier in the previous week when she spoke at a Feb 13th South Jefferson County Tea Party meeting, a video of which had been posted on YouTube. She is apparently appalled at the idea of people talking about guns on social media . . . but has “liked” several articles on the “Arm Teachers Now” Facebook page and posted the following to her own Facebook page:

JW_gun_training[1]

When the two parent volunteers were asked for a statement, they would only say that the matter is preposterous and they are currently discussing possible legal action.

We are very concerned that these two mothers have been targeted in this manner. Their tweets have not only been taken out of context and blown out of proportion but have been twisted to potentially slanderous extremes. That is bad enough. To try to remove them from their volunteer positions on school district committees takes something bad, makes it worse and appears to be an attack on free speech.

Is it the Board’s job to police the tweets of any or all community members in the school district? Or are they only policing the tweets and posts made by people that WNW do not like? The allegations of threats, completely without merit, only exacerbates the situation.

If the Board votes to remove these two mothers from their volunteer committee positions for practicing their First Amendment Right of Free Speech, it will send a chilling message to not only other district and school volunteers and community members, but also employees: “If you disagree with us, do not dare say anything or you will lose your position.”

Do not let this go by unnoticed. WNW have the votes to do whatever they want, but they cannot do it in the dark . . . unless you let them.

Please show up at the meeting (6:30 pm at Golden High School) and express your concerns about this or any other issues/decisions in regard to our schools. Make your voice heard!

12 thoughts on “WNW: No to Free Speech?

  1. I am in full support of the work needed to ensure that we do everything in our power to be active in our response to the WNW. However, regardless of the context of the tweets and the sites frequented and like!ed by WNW, the tweets by the volunteers were stupid. Our students are held to a certain standard and everyone in JeffCo knows painfully well the reasons behind taking threaten of fun violence. I do not feel this has legs and the volunteers were stupid to engage in conversation like that. Not funny at all and not permissible by the students they volunteer for. The tea party are experts and well funded in this area. We need to demonstrate restraint. If this is the direction this is going, I will find a different venue. Any veiled threats are stupid and unacceptable. Make sure people are led in the right battles and lead by bexample not pettiness.

    • Typing from phone..sorry for the typos…..violence is not fun…it is gun violence.

    • Corey, you are absolutely right that the tweets were careless. I do not condone the comments that were made. There is, however, a concern about the severity of the punishment. A warning should be sufficient. It would seem that WMW have already established that they are worried about actions of the community and the repercussions of their agenda (i.e. the hiring of Brad Miller, the strengthening of security at meetings, etc). Lashing out at those who step out of line (and labeling it “zero tolerance”) would be ‘”just another brick in the wall.” If you’re worried about the students…wouldn’t a demonstration of diplomacy and forgiveness be a good lesson, instead of simply removing your detractors?

  2. Anyone with a brain can read those tweets and know they were not a threat or even directed at anyone. I have seen the Tea Party articles and the video of Julie Williams slandering these two ladies and it is abominabale. A school board member from Mapleton, Jennifer Raiffie, has also actively participated in this slander. Williams and Raiffie should be ashamed, I hope these two parents sue the **** out of these two elected officials. As a conservative who voted for these three board members I cannot wait for four years to be up so I can vote against them and tell every conservative I know why these three are masquerading as conservatives while making decisions behind closed doors and blowing taxpayer money on failing charter schools and a board attorney.

  3. I totally agree with jonafloe’s reply. Especially regarding comments that removing these moms from committees is too harsh a punishment. They are obviously involved parents.

    However, I also agree with Corey regarding pettiness and self restraint. We want to appear professional, informed AND strong. I was at the Board Meeting on the 18th and was embarrassed that the folks on “my side” were snickering and talking under their breath when WMW would make comment that certainly DID increase my blood pressure, but I practiced self restraint and didn’t join in making unnecessary heavy sighs/guffaws. I think that in all of these meetings, it is our responsibility to gently remind “our side” to be respectful.

    FYI….arming teachers is a totally ignorant idea and if anyone has done any research about guns purportedly obtained for self defense would know this….

  4. Clean her guns? Teach me to shoot? I have serious concerns about this boards agenda, but I will express them in a civil manner. Those comments are unworthy of us and should be repudiated by all educators.

    • We would agree…if the tweets had any relationship to the Board. When viewed in context, this was simply the kind of back and forth of two friends joshing each other. Was it unwise? Probably. But they would have needed to believe that backers of WNW were watching every move or ‘tweet’, waiting to pounce on an unsuspecting messages and distort them. In short – they were not paranoid enough of WNW.

      We find this McCarthy-like tactic far more chilling than any ‘tweeting’ between friends.

  5. They (WNW) are always watching. It is part of their plan to scare everyone into submission. It is disgusting.

  6. In this day and age comments like that are reprehensible, especially in this district and state where there has been so much school place violence!! Ironic that the article criticizes WNW of being paranoid when WNW’s every move is posted on pages like this. If only people paid attention to what went on at the district before WNW then a little context could be applied to what is going on now.

    • 1) The comments were taken badly out of context. There was no threat. There was no connection, except in the minds of those who wanted one.
      2) WNW are public officials. Public officials are and should always be ready for public scrutiny. As Harry Truman said, ‘if you can’t stand the heat, stay out of the kitchen.’
      3) We were paying attention to what was going on in the District before. We didn’t agree with all of it, and many of us were (and are) active in a variety of groups, some formal, some not, working to make JeffCo better. What we were not was scared that everything we had helped build was going to be severely damaged. WNW has brought out that fear by their words, intentions, and actions. This blog has repeatedly shown how their actions are different from past Boards and Boards in different states, thus providing context for examining WNW actions. Which is why we are very concerned, and will continue to put them under public scrutiny.

  7. We will not. The mothers in question are already very upset at the reckless allegations and do not desire more attention. We respect their right to privacy. If they choose to make their names known, that is their choice to make, not ours.

    Also, you are assuming a fact that has not been proven. Examination of the modified tweet records shoes they did not threaten anyone. There was an effort by other parties to take two tweets out of context and fabricate a threat.

  8. I find it ironic that a movement ostensibly put together to defend the constitution and freedom can be so authoritarian about disagreements and/or misinterpretations. So, some research was in order. I’m not sure what to make of it, but it certainly raises some questions and offers some insights. There has been some concern that there is a “playbook” or some such workings based on the fact that everything WNW does appears to be from a script.

    An organization I have come across that has a significant overlap with the players in Jeffco. Leadership Program of the Rockies http://www.leadershipprogram.org has some interesting graduates. Here’s what I saw:

    John Newkirk – Advisory Board & Class of 2006

    Ben DeGrow Class of 2006 (Independence Institute Education Staff and writes a blog)

    Katie Witt – Class of 2007 (Is she related to Ken somehow?)

    Brad Miller – Class of 2010

    Laura Boggs – Class of 2012

    Sheila Atwell – Class of 2013 (Head of Jeffco Students First and started the horrible Jeffco Observer that people took as fact rather than opinion right before the election)

    Alex Cranberg – Board of Directors & Class of 2006 (supposedly multi-millionaire who funds what he likes. Rumor has it that he is paying (indirectly) Ken’s salary….he certainly can’t be doing an IT work these days.)

    Perhaps a bit of a misnomer when John said to the press that he met and spoke with Brad at a convention or meeting when they probably knew each other from this organization……interesting…..

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