by Travis Mateer
At the virtual City Council meeting on December 13th, Missoula citizen Matt Larson had his Zoom audio cut in mid-sentence. Why? According to another attendee of the meeting, it was because he made historically inaccurate comments about city policy.
Is this a valid justification for shutting down a citizen’s ability to provide commentary? The citizen who is bringing attention to this anti-democratic development from our forever Mayor described the situation like this in an email sent to council members and Mayor Engen:
At the December 13, 2021 City Council meeting, Zoom attendee Matt Larson (with whom I have neither a personal acquaintance nor any shared political/ideological organizational affiliation of which I’m aware), had his microphone cut off by the Mayor a few seconds into Mr. Larson’s Citizen Comment (the first of three comments by Mr. Larson at this meeting). Mr. Larson was respectful and was not using profanity. Nor was he yelling. Nor was he making offensive personal comments about the Mayor or any member of the Council (although doing so would be fully protected speech and expression under both the Montana and United States Constitutions). Nor was he disruptive. Nor did he expressly or impliedly threaten violence of violation of any law. Nor did he engage in any conduct constituting breach of the peace. Nor did he utter anything akin to “shouting ‘FIRE!’ in a crowded theater”or otherwise posing a clear and present danger to anyone.
The reason given by the Mayor for abruptly censoring Mr. Larson in mid-sentence was that Mr. Larson had said two things about city policy that were historically inaccurate. This authoritarian action by the Mayor, which evoked no objection, opposition or disapproving remark from any member of the Council, violated the following provisions of the Declaration of Rights proclaimed in Article II of the Montana Constitution:
The author of the email goes on to provide his educated perspective on the articles being violated by our Mayor, who won his FIFTH term last month.
Having been cancelled and censored myself, I am sensitive to these examples of a wannabe dictator shutting down a lowly citizen’s ability to provide public comment. Is Mayor Engen now the arbiter of what constitutes historically ACCURATE commentary?
Speaking of censorship, a new effort to limit who views this blog seemed to arise over the weekend after I posted this update on the Larchmont development. Here is the screen some viewers got when they clicked on the link:
I spent some time yesterday trying to figure out what this means. My WordPress support said they couldn’t help me with this, because it’s a Microsoft Defender SmartScreen thing. They gave me a link to try and address this, but after an hour of trying, I gave up.
Despite this attempt at censorship, I had a BIG day of views yesterday as people realize they aren’t getting important context from news outlets, like the Missoulian, especially on subjects like affordable housing.
Is Zoom Chron unsafe? If you derive safety from controlling the narrative, then yes, my blog is not a safe space for you.
Thanks for reading, and stay tuned for more to come!