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Easy Pickings or: How I learned to stop worrying and love the first amendment

History has demonstrated that for a despot to come into power, free speech must be squelched. Opposing voices must be silenced. Free speech is poison to tyranny on every level. Even on a podunk little east Tennessee county level.

Yes, as a matter of fact, we have caesars here, you’d be surprised; we have would-be Boss Hoggs and autocratic bullies right here in our beloved Cleveland-Bradley who would like nothing more than to control what you can see, hear, say and think. And since bullies are inherently mean people, they generally employ mean tactics -- ‘cause fear is a strong motivator.

Consider the recent trouble between HometownCleveland and Facebook. The way it started, every time Hometown reported on the investigation of Eric Watson, Facebook shut us down. They claimed we were violating their “community standards.” First time, they shut us down for 24 hours, then for three days, then for a week, and they’re threatening to shut us down for good if we don’t stop it.

Now consider this African morality tale: a pack of lions stalk a herd of gazelles. A couple of feeble, elderly lions move upwind of the gazelles, while the strong young lionesses wait downwind. Then, the old elderly lions raise their massive heads and bellow tree-shaking roars, which scare the crap out of the gazelles and set them running for safety. Except, instead of safety, they run right into the teeth and claws of the ferocious lionesses waiting downwind. What you call easy pickings.

The moral of that story is: HometownCleveland is not easy pickings. We’re not afraid of loud, threatening noises. We know it’s not the thunder that can hurt you, it’s the lightning. We’re the lightning. We’re that powerful thing the thunder longs to be.

Bad people fear the truth. Here in our community, our sheriff is being investigated by a special prosecutor, and HometownCleveland is charged with violating Facebook’s “community standards” for reporting it. Well, Facebook -- what if it’s the sheriff who’s violating the community standards?

HometownCleveland is a news site. Our reporters have a proven history of exposing malfeasance in public office hereabouts going back to the 90s, and our reportage has been spot-on in every case. We wonder, has Facebook even bothered to actually read the stories they’re deleting? Facebook, honestly, you owe us and the people of Bradley County an apology.

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