Wednesday, September 28, 2016


Congratulations to the town of Woodstock and to the Woodstock Town Board for unanimously passing the Woodstock Free Speech Resolution. This Resolution is the first of its kind in New York State, and perhaps in the nation, to stand up to a direct attack on our First Amendment Right of Free Speech and its attendant Right to Boycott. Governor Cuomo’s Executive Order 157 of June 5 clearly tries to limit those First Amendment Rights by imposing economic retribution on those entities that support the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign against Israeli policies and its treatment of Palestinians. In addition, in a way reminiscent of the McCarthy era blacklist of suspected communists, this Executive Order creates a public list of all entities supporting BDS and only allows for those names to be removed from the list by those entities publicly renouncing BDS. 
Woodstock Free Speech introduced the Resolution to the Town Board on July 19 and then undertook an education campaign that consisted of three community events, appearances on local television and radio stations, online and paper petitions, tabling at the weekly Farmers’ Market, and entering into an extensive dialogue with the Town Board, which voted to pass the Resolution on September 19. In so doing, the Board stated that it makes no declaration in support of or in opposition to the BDS campaign and, in fact, acknowledges deep Board divisions on the matter.  
The Town Board, much to its credit, was open to exploring this issue and asked numerous probing questions, many of which were answered by a First Amendment Rights attorney. This was decided solely on the question of First Amendment Rights and the Board’s desire to protect its citizens against any and all abridgements of their civil liberties. 
So, congratulations to all of us who call Woodstock our home. Someday, Woodstock may be as well known for standing up for free speech as it is for the music festival that never happened here.

Nic Abramson

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