You are invited to examine the case of an Alexandria paradox.
"As our nation approaches the 200th anniversary of the drafting, ratification and implementation of our Constitution, it is important for our citizens to renew their familiarity with the accomplishments of their forefathers."
This was written by the mayor of Alexandria, James P. Moran Jr., as an introduction to a copy of the Constitution of the United States. In this same foreword, the mayor continued: "Alexandrians can take pride in the accomplishments of their illustrious predecessors, and should also grasp the opportunity to enhance their understanding of the Constitution and engage in discussion and debate about its meaning of our future."
Some of us Alexandrians find the mayor's statement to be paradoxical -- that is, an assertion that is essentially self-contradictory. While he exhorts us to enhance our understanding of the Constitution, he acts in a manner that destroys the very freedoms that the Constitution sets forth to protect.
Throughout this past year, a handpicked group of Alexandrians have been meeting concerning the establishment of school-based health clinics, at which birth control services would be provided to the adolescents of Alexandria. During the many unpleasant, and angry, meetings, an irreparable schism developed between the Majority Opinion (those in favor of establishing the school-based clinics) and the Minority Opinion (those opposed to the establishment of the school-based clinics).
On May 19, the Minority Opinion expressed its ethical concerns about the school-based clinics to the entire task force. At this meeting, the mayor made a motion that the minority's report be "approved" by the task force, but stated that the report was "inflammatory" and should not be published. After a very heated discussion, the task force decided that to tamper with the Minority Opinion would constitute censorship and be a violation of constitutionally guaranteed rights under the First Amendment.
On June 9, the city council accepted the results -- that is, the report of the Adolescent Health Clinic Task Force. The report consisted of three parts, a Majority Opinion, a Minority Opinion and a supplemental report by Councilman Carlyle Ring.
Two days later, the mayor's task force met again. At this meeting, under the direction of the mayor, it was decided that an ad hoc group would be selected to develop a concise summary of the task-force reports. This ad hoc committee, composed of the mayor and supporters of the clinics only, was urged by Mayor Moran to render the summary in a balanced and truthful manner. This summary, not the complete original texts, was to "be translated into major languages to reach all groups."
We, the members of the Minority Opinion, are enraged by this effort to censor us. Many hours of research and meetings were spent in developing our report. It would be impossible for a summary to capture the precision, the nuance and the meaning of our thoughts and concepts, particularly if the summary were written by people opposed to our viewpoint.
Instead of respecting our freedom of speech and press, not to mention the citizens' right to hear and read the complete reports, the mayor manipulates the flow of information by, in effect, shredding our report. He is so obsessed with the establishment of school-based health clinics that he ruthlessly ignores the basic freedoms that he paradoxically exhorts Alexandrians to take pride in.
-- Rev. William L. Walsh, Mary B. Dwyer and William E. Fenton Jr.