Our First Amendment rights are under attack. On June 5th Governor Cuomo signed executive order #157 that divests New York State funds from any companies that support Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) against the State of Israel. It also creates a blacklist of those companies that is public and that will take input from the general public. And Governor Cuomo had the temerity to say that "we'll boycott those who boycott."
The Supreme Court in its 1982 NAACP vs Claiborne Hardware Co decision recognized boycotts as a First Amendment form of protected free speech. This means it is wrong for New York State to penalize those who engage in constitutionally protected free speech, whether Governor Cuomo agrees with their points of view or not. And having New York State assess our political motivations and then create a database of those it disagrees with is a serious threat to our civil liberties.
Boycotts have long been recognized as a legitimate and non-violent method of trying to change behavior. History is replete with examples: from our forefathers refusal to pay taxes to the British without representation, to Ghandi's Salt Strike, to the Montgomery Bus Boycott, to the boycotting of South Africa, to today's boycotting of North Carolina for its discrimination against the Transgender community.
In reaction to Governor Cuomo's boycott ban, I and other Woodstock citizens are organizing a campaign to have the Woodstock Town Board pass a resolution that reaffirms our rights to free speech and our rights to boycott. It is important for individuals and communities to defend their basic human rights when they are under attack. We are planning a series of informational sessions and a petition campaign as a show of community involvement in a lead up to the introduction of the resolution for a town board vote.
If you believe in free speech, please sign our online petition and follow our progress at WoodstockFreeSpeech.org. Please inform your friends and neighbors and ask them to join us.