Salisbury Mayoral Candidate Kenny Hardin Speaks Out on Citizens Free Speech Rights Being Violated Again During a Recent Public Forum

Posted on October 2, 2017

Kenny Hardin, Salisbury Mayoral Candidate

♦ Sadly, Citizens free speech rights were violated again during a recent public forum and I spoke up again to defend their right to speak freely. The difference this time was it was not the City Council who was infringing upon the rights. During the last Candidate Forum held at the Mission House Church last week, and ironically sponsored by several social justice groups, candidates were interrupted, admonished and denied the opportunity to freely answer questions posed to them.

The Moderator was a young college student who seemed to employ more arrogance than intelligence and failed to realize what a disservice he did that evening. The rude manner in which he interrupted candidates trying to answer questions did nothing, but stifle creative responses and relegated discussion to restrained, automated and patented answers. He was so focused on coming across as authoritative that he forgot the real purpose of the event. If you ask a candidate a question, why would you then repeatedly interrupt and dictate how he answers the question? We had two minutes to answer, so if we opted to sing or sit there quietly, those were the Candidates two minutes. We just watched the Mayor take a dictatorial stand, implode and citizens were not happy, so why would social justice groups allow this same thing to take place? Whoever his mentor was failed him miserably that night.

When I was interrupted while answering, I stopped and questioned the Moderator as to why we were not being allowed to answer the questions as we saw fit. On the break, I went to the Moderators table and attempted to ask the same question. I was told that if I didn’t like the way the session was being run, I could leave. Again, great social justice. Four other candidates and several audience members approached me on the break and thanked me for speaking up. They also shared their frustrations and discontent with the way the session was being run.

After the event, I posted my displeasure on both my personal and open political Facebook pages. A young lady, who I’ve never met and who acknowledged she did not attend the event, came on to my personal page and wrote that she heard I was “out of control” during the event. I asked her in a response if I had thrown any chairs, flipped any tables over, directed profanity at the Moderator or even raised my voice to yell? I encouraged her to watch the video, which the RFP posted, and see if I was out of control. Instead of accepting this and moving on, this young lady engaged in a series of inflammatory comments directed at my character, I eventually responded more harshly and told her to “stay the f**k off of my personal page.” I knew what her intention was by posting on my page and I was fine with it. I’m unapologetic in what I said to her. She took a screenshot of my statement, posted it on her page, sent it to the local paper and feigned shock and hurt that I spoke so harshly to her. Grow up young lady. If you come for people disrespectfully, be prepared and accept the response you asked for.

The political reporter and associate editor of the local paper contacted me about the Facebook post. I questioned them as to why this was even news worthy and why didn’t they cover it as it occurred during the forum. I questioned their journalistic integrity in the partiality and imbalance they show in covering the news. As I said to them, people are more concerned about how elected officials are planning to address the out of control gun violence, murders, gangs, the drug overdose epidemic, the financial mismanagement of Fibrant and the lack of economic development instead of a Facebook post. People are not concerned about my tone of voice when there are so many other pressing problems plaguing this City. So, if this is what the local paper considers hard hitting news, good luck with that.

Regardless of the entity, I will continue to speak up and fight for the rights of those being denied. Whether it’s the Moderator, the young lady on Facebook or the local paper, I don’t care how you perceive me or what you write about me as I continue to put people before politics.

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