And Then They Came for the Apples, But There Was No One Left to Speak for Them

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A seemingly innocent bulletin board becomes the latest battle ground in the free speech debate. Image courtesy of Max Weinberg

As we move deeper into the fall season tirelessly plunging toward winter we inevitably approach Thanksgiving. The holiday celebrates a brief and possibly fictitious peace between Native Americans and Pilgrims only to be followed by nearly four centuries of genocide.  But it is on this holiday that we are often asked what we are thankful for. Which is why it was no surprise to see a large bulletin board decorated with turkeys and apples asking what we were thankful for hanging on the 2nd floor of East Hall.

As you can see in the above photo there are six apples for passersby to write down what they are thankful for. Three on the right side and three on the left. Last week shortly after the display had been put up an unknown student wrote “Impeachment!” in the top right apple in black sharpie. The following morning a second unknown student wrote “Donald Trump 2020” in pen underneath it. And by the afternoon the apple was gone.

The missing apple was replaced days later with a brand new blank apple. It sits there as though the original apple never existed. But it is not the original. History has been rewritten and the new apple seeks to hide the shame of the missing original. Image courtesy of Max Weinberg

What happened to the top right apple? Where did it go? Who chose to remove the apple and silence the free speech of two people who live in the building? Maybe one of the RA’s who put up the display didn’t approve of the political comments being written on the board. Maybe they were fearful of what would become of the board if they didn’t act swiftly and remove it. It is even scarier to think of what might happen if our right to free speech is canceled. Maybe it was one of the over 100 students who live in the building who decided they did not like either or both comments written.

Who knows how far this goes, or how many people are involved. We may never know.

The board remained an apple short for a few days, sitting there with only five. It was obvious one was missing; it was very clearly a symmetrical display with three on each side. Now that one side had one less apple, the empty space shone like a bright light, proclaiming that in our small corner of the world in Henniker free speech was being stomped out.

One apple at a time.

With the anniversary of Kristallnact over the weekend it is vital to remember the importance of speaking truth to power, and not allowing the silencing of our freedom of speech.

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It’s a scary thought, but it could happen here too. It’s a slippery slope once free speech starts being snuffed out. Image courtesy of the Atlantic.

 

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