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Published: Monday, February 18, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
Island Transit

Silencing rider unconstitutional

Island Transit
Silencing rider unconstitutional
In July, the public bus service Island Transit, serving Whidbey and Camano islands, as well as commuter routes to Everett and Mount Vernon, faces the possible discontinuation of state funding for these "county connector" routes. Under just circumstances I would not be opposed to continued funding for these routes. However, given a recent discovery of an unconstitutional practice of limiting free speech on the buses, I am voicing my opinion that justice needs to be restored before any further funding for Island Transit be granted.
This week, a rider on the bus was silenced for discussing political matters across the bus, loudly. The justification from the driver was that to discuss such topics is to invite conflict and therefore is prohibited. "Politics, religion and sex" are a few of these examples. State law prohibits loud behavior, while the U.S. Constitution protects our right to discuss these issues in a civil fashion in public places, such as Island Transit's buses. The lady should have been quieted, not silenced.
A day later, I brought up the subject with a senior driver dubbed "gold" by a co-worker who, after informing me didn't consider himself a servant to the community but rather "just a driver," upheld this view and later exacerbated my righteous indignation by silencing my conversation on religion when I mentioned Scripture.
These are gross violations of our First Amendment rights and Island Transit should not receive further state funding until this matter is justified.

Leif Hanson
Camano Island
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