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Hi everyone, and thanks for stopping by again to see what’s happening around Edmond. As some may know, we have a city election coming up April 6, 2021. If you didn’t know, mark your calendar, because this particular election in Edmond will determine who the State Senator is for District 22, the Edmond Mayor, two city council seats and a school board member.

Let me preface this article by stating, this has been a long hard unprecedented year, seeing the population of earth dealing with a virus together at the same time, and there is no road map as to how to go about doing so. No one in this situation is better than or smarter than each other, with exception of epidemiologists and scientists. However, that is a problem for those who don’t believe in science, the medical community or vaccines.

Last fall during the divisive national election, the Edmond Liberty ticket was born out of some residents and business owner’s disdain over an unenforced mask ordinance, meant by Edmond City leaders to give guidance about mask wearing to those business owners who worried about community spread of a deadly virus in a global pandemic.

Basically, Edmond leadership took the stance to leave the requirement as to mask wearing per the City ordinance up to each individual business owner after last summer saw one of the nastiest backlashes against a City ordinance I have seen in the 16 years I have lived here. That should have sufficed. But no. Some citizens and business owners became outright nasty, and were and still are ridiculing anyone trying to do the right thing. In my wildest dreams, I never thought I would see such a thing in America, much less in Edmond.

Some felt their “liberties” were infringed upon because others chose to require masks to protect their customers, staff and themselves. Some argued that their freedom of expression and freedom of speech were infringed upon. Nonsense, as I point out below. This smacks of the thinking utilized by junior high school mean girls trying to get their own way, because they are tired of something or don’t “feel like it”. But I suppose it is very American to claim their duty to work toward the good of the whole is just not their problem i.e. the 1st Amendment’s Freedom of Expression.

The Liberty ticket has candidates running for Rep. Bices District 22 State Senate seat, the Mayor of Edmond, two city council seats, and an Edmond Public School Board seat that believe it is unconstitutional to require mask wearing during a very real, very pervasive viral disease outbreak across our city, metro and State, but regionally seeing Oklahoma in the middle of the worst in number of unnecessary case counts, sometimes citing a low percentage rate as to why the virus is no big deal. Tell that to the missing members of our community, to those who have long standing complications now or to the deceased residents’ family and friends.

I’m not sure if many received a Liberty ticket flyer in their mailbox, but it was reported to me by a reliable source that just before the primary February 9, 2021, the ticket was stuffing mailboxes with election flyers, which is wholly a Federal crime in that only a postal worker may insert anything into a mailbox and it must have postage affixed to said flyer or whatever item is inserted within your mailbox. The law is really specific about this fact and this flyer being distributed illegally makes it clear whomever is behind this ticket doesn’t actually care about rights, liberties or following the law, just about controlling the narrative.

All of this is very confusing to those trying to control the appearance of Edmond for appearances sake, of course. The saying sugar and spice and everything nice is what good girls are made of comes to mind. That has never been me, just for appearances sake.

So, in that vain, those folks won’t like that I am bringing this topic up or any topic that makes Edmond appear in any light not approved by their group. Despite everyone knowing better because they live here and have eyes and ears. And, anyway, gauging a community shouldn’t be as shallow as appearances, that’s just not authentic.

On top of all of this, there is a Facebook group that has a net based data base filled only partially with local Edmond Businesses, citing green businesses interpreted in my personal opinion as ‘good’, and red businesses as ‘bad’ being that it is heavily promoted by an anti mask group that heavily supports those candidates on the “Edmond Liberty Ticket”. They are running on a platform as if the mask ordinance is causing their cry to save Edmond churches and businesses, and of that, nothing the Edmond current City Council has done has threatened either, if anything some members’ indecision caused further chaos.

To my fellow Edmond business owners, follow the ordinance as the Council prescribed – either require masks or don’t. But don’t ridicule your competition for requiring masks if another business owner feels it helps keep their customer’s and staff a little safer by diminishing the strength to which they may catch this deadly virus. That can be interpreted very badly and make you look like a real jerk. Because with or without the ordinance, epidemiologists are stating the no one can be considered completely protected, and that vaccines take at least 3 weeks to kick in with regards to a decent percentage of protection from dying from this virus.

However, it’s your American right to not do so, and every businesses right to deny you services or entry into their business. Don’t act like a tween with an grudge when this happens to you after you’ve made your god given rights known to said business owners.

No one needs protecting, and certainly no one is trying to prevent you from your constitutional rights to free assembly, speech or expression, or prevent you from whatever liberties you feel are infringed upon by this non police enforced ordinance during a deadly global pandemic still active in our community.

Your first amendment, and all other constitutional amendments, are not violated by wearing a mask that helps protect the welfare of people. Think of all the people’s lives you help save by wearing a mask and practicing the common decency of trying to help the general public. After all, isn’t it our responsibility to “love thy neighbor” and take care of one another? While being required to WEAR a mask doesn’t violate your constitutional rights — being FORBIDDEN to wear a mask by an employer just might violate your constitutional rights.

Some of y’all won’t appreciate this, but here is the long and short of it: wearing a mask does not violate your constitutional rights. You CAN be mandated to wear a mask. It is not unconstitutional to put mask mandates in place – anywhere in America.

If we begin to wave around a sense of checks and balances on government authority that are unprecedented, we undermine a system that is put in place to protect our sovereignty.

If you feel as if your constitutional rights are actually being violated, however, the best thing you can do is contact an experienced constitutional lawyer. They will be able to explain the situation to you in terms you fully understand and identify how it is best to approach your situation, even bringing the case in front of a judge if deemed necessary. They will make sure your voice gets heard and try to aid you in enacting change if change is necessary.

Edmond did not enact Police Power

Police power is an ability that the government uses to protect the welfare of the people in times of need. Now the question to some is: is police power being abused? Are we actually in a time of great need? Simply put: Yes. We are still in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic – this is the perfect time for our government to be exercising police power, but Edmond chose to leave up to its citizens and business owners who are appearingly making lists so that anti mask wearing citizens can avoid businesses that require masks.


Does wearing a mask violate your first amendment rights?

Let’s break down the first amendment into its core components.

The first amendment grants you the right to:

  • The freedom of speech
  • The freedom to practice religion
  • The right to assembly
  • The right to air out your grievances against the government

Some people are currently arguing that all of these rights are being trampled on by the current mask ordinances in Edmond and OKC, which are aimed to curb the spread of coronavirus in the metro area.

In their mind, you are not able to speak in the same capacity when wearing a mask. You are not able to practice religion as the mask inhibits you from breathing God’s free air. The right to assembly is being violated due to the fact that we have social distance, and if we are not able to speak in assemblies, we cannot criticize the government.

Firstly, a mask doesn’t impede your ability to practice free speech. They suck, I’m not going to lie.

Space restrictions are placed on free speech in order to protect the general well being of the people. Have you ever heard the saying “you can’t yell fire in a crowded room unless there actually is a fire”? Something similar actually applies in this case. If the ability to speak impedes the ability to have a healthy and safe society, then the ability to speak in those specific situations may be restricted or modified until the safety of the public is insured. I.E. Zoom city council meetings people are criticizing.

I would imagine that most if not all constitutional lawyers agree with this notion, so it’s something you should consider if you’re on the fence about whether or not wearing masks is constitutional.

Second, the requirement to wear a mask does not impede your ability to practice religion.

Justice Antonin Scalia wrote for the Supreme Court in the 1983 case of Employment Division v. Smith, laws that do not intend to single out religion, but instead apply widely must be “rationally related” to a “legitimate” governmental interest to be constitutional.

The requirement to wear a mask falls into this category of rationally related and legitimate laws as protected by that Supreme Court decision.

Third, the right to freedom of assembly and freedom of government criticism both fall under the same category as freedom of speech.

Given that we are still enduring a global pandemic a year later, it’s not the time to assemble and put other people at risk without at least trying to curb the spread and veracity of the strength to which citizens may contract the virus.

But, let’s look at a situation where the freedom of assembly wasn’t trampled during our pandemic, and if it was, it was dealt with. In June of 2020, there was a significant number of protests following the murder of George Floyd. The people took to the streets, including in the state of Oklahoma and right here in Edmond, and they were met with open arms by law enforcement in Edmond, which allowed them to not only protest, but to assemble. As a citizen, you are afforded the right in Edmond to visit any business you’d like to assemble at, and have even been given outdoor options, as well as pick up and curbside service options.

Practically everyone has an opinion on whether or not we should be required to wear masks in light of COVID-19 and the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Many people were and still are quite vocal about how wearing a mask violates their constitutional rights and/or civil liberties. Quite a few people, especially in Edmond, believe wearing a mask doesn’t actually stop the spread of the virus. Others believe wearing a mask inhibits their ability to speak or even breathe. Whatever the reasoning is, masks are at the forefront of current political conversations.

This doesn’t give you or any group the right to restrain trade of your competition, in the name of your rights to your beliefs.

“Civil rights” and “civil liberties” are terms that are often used synonymously, interchangeably, but the terms are actually very distinct.

Civil liberties are freedoms guaranteed to us by the Constitution to protect us from tyranny (think: our freedom of speech), while civil rights are the legal rights that protect individuals from discrimination (think: employment discrimination). You have the right to remain silent.

You have the right to a fair court trial. You also have the right to vote and the right to privacy. Americans are very familiar with these rights, but are they considered civil rights or civil liberties?

There are differences between civil rights and civil liberties, with specific laws corresponding to each term.

Civil rights concern the basic right to be free from unequal treatment based on certain protected characteristics (race, gender, disability, etc.) in settings such as employment, education, housing, and access to public facilities.

A civil rights violation occurs in designated situations where an individual is discriminated against on the basis of a protected characteristic.

Most civil rights laws are established through the federal government via federal legislation or case law. Civil Liberties concern basic rights and freedoms that are guaranteed — either explicitly identified in the Bill of Rights and the Constitution, or interpreted or inferred through the years by legislatures or the courts.

Civil liberties include:

  • The right to free speech
  • The right to privacy
  • The right to remain silent in a police interrogation
  • The right to be free from unreasonable searches of your home
  • The right to a fair court trial The right to marry
  • The right to vote

Civil Rights v. Civil Liberties

The law differentiates between civil rights, which means the basic right of freedom from discrimination based on certain personal characteristics such as gender, race, or disability, and civil liberties which are basic freedoms.

Civil liberties concern the actual basic freedoms; civil rights concern the treatment of an individual regarding certain rights.

Unlike civil liberties, where individuals enjoy broad-based rights, civil rights contain a protective aspect of those rights based on certain characteristics.

One way to consider the difference between civil rights and civil liberties is to look at 1) what right is affected, and 2) whose right is affected.

For example, as an employee, you do not have the legal right to a promotion, mainly because getting a promotion is not a guaranteed “civil liberty.” However, as a female employee you do have the legal right to be free from discrimination in being considered for that promotion — you cannot legally be denied the promotion based on your gender (or race, or disability, etc.).

The point of this article is to ask citizen’s to stop being so ugly. To each other. To our City leaders. To businesses who choose masks or don’t. Use your common sense, because in the long run, your choices now will reflect on you later.

Stop by Friday for another look at what’s happening around Edmond.

Sherri Hultner