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Coeur d’Alene’s regional chamber proves it hates the First Amendment and free speech

Hostile to free speech
Hostile to free speech

An uproar took place in the Idaho town of Coeur d’Alene prior to July 4th this year when the town’s regional chamber issued regulations on what was allowed to be displayed by individuals during its July 4th holiday parade.

Under parade regulations adopted by the chamber board this year, “Symbols associated with specific political movements, religions, or ideologies” were unacceptable. [Linda Coppess, chamber president and CEO,] wrote that in the past, the chamber received numerous complaints about displays that people found offensive, including “Confederate flags, derogatory illustrations, harsh politically-based language, and graphic photographs.” Coppess wrote that last year alone, she received over 50 complaints about different signage and symbols that were deemed offensive.

To address those concerns, the chamber consulted national organizations to ensure its guidelines were transparent and fair, she wrote. “Our intention with this policy was simple: to create an environment where everyone feels welcome and respected,” Coppess wrote.

The chamber listed several other things as unacceptable for the parade, including signs promoting controversial political issues, displays containing divisive or inflammatory language related to political debates and signs displaying slogans or messages that incite political division or unrest. [emphasis mine]

Within days the chamber was overwhelmed with thousands of complaints from local citizens, most of whom appeared to be especially offended by the ban of religious symbols. As a result, the chamber backed down partly, rescinding that particular restriction. Below is a short clip from the July 4th Coeur d’Alene parade. As you can see, a lot of people came carrying crosses. I suspect they would have been there whether or not the religious ban was rescinded, expressing defiance.

It’s nice that people stood up to defend their freedom of religion and the chamber backed down on this point, but the problem is the entire set of regulations and the very attitude of Coppess and the regional chamber. The most fundamental point of the Declaration of Independence, the signing of which July 4th is a celebration, was to establish a government that would protect the rights of every citizen to express his or her opinions freely, whenever they want, not regulate those expressions. To quote Thomas Jefferson’s words:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed — that whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

It is not the place of any government, whether it be a president, congress, legislature, town council, or tinpot regional council, to forbid any expression, merely because someone had complained about it.

Moreover, the very policy is wrong-headed. The chamber and Coppess were focused on making sure “everyone feels welcome and respected” but in the process they were endorsing the heckler’s veto. Under this framework, if instituted year round all someone has to do to could get an opinion banned would be to simply complain about it.

This concept of making “everyone feel welcome and respected” is right out of the Marxist DEI handbook, a basic tactic of that oppressive philosophy. If you claim to be one of a certain group of oppressed minorities, you are then forever given the power to control the speech and actions of everyone else, so that you never feel unwelcome or disrespected. What others feel is of no consequence. Their humanity can be squelched and crushed with impunity.

It is not surprising however that the Coeur d’Alene regional chamber bought into this crap. A look at its legislative priorities and the issues it wishes to push politically reveals the chamber to be quite left leaning.

This incident should therefore be a wake-up call for the citizens of Coeur d’Alene. Maybe they don’t want this regional chamber representing them or enforcing any policies on them. Maybe it is time that different people joined it and insisted it push a different, more freedom-loving American approach to government. Or maybe its membership should simply dry up, replaced with a new organization that really does believe in America and freedom of speech.

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.


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"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs."--San Antonio Express-News


  • pzatchok

    Leaders need to understand something.
    Never issue an order you expect to not be followed.

    If your making policy because of a few hundred complaints you have to look at who is making the complaints vs the whole of the electorate.
    Anything less than 10% should be suspect or viewed as just one small group and not the view of the whole. Will changing policy on their small behalf reduce or restrict the others rights?

  • Related:


    “You know the names: From Pete Bootygig to every judicial nomination, to every prosecutor, to most every Congressional and Senate Democrat party nominee. It’s all about race and the color of your skin and or sexual orientation and definitely about the “progressive”, really Marxist “We hate America” agenda.”

  • James Street

    The left’s destruction of Independence Day is intentional. Rush Limbaugh always laughingly referenced a Harvard study warning parents not to allow their kids to shoot off fireworks and celebrate Independence Day because it turned them conservative. In Seattle they’ve banned all fireworks even sparklers and traffic is so bad you don’t get home from a public fireworks display until 4:00 in the morning on 7/5. People stay at home and watch some Hallmark special about two brave gay lovers.

    Hayden Lake, a small lake north of Coeur d’Alene, used to be home to a group the media labeled “white supremacists”. Their hate and bigotry was nothing like the left’s.

  • Brian

    Sounds like what everybody feared, Idaho is being slowly being taken over by people moving from California .

  • Col Beausabre

    “Never issue an order you expect to not be followed”

    I first heard that from an Army ROTC instructor as an 18 year old cadet. Douglass Mcarthur said it was a piece of advice his father, Arthur, gave him.

    It became famous when Mac was SACJAP (Supreme Allied Commander, Japan = The White Emperor) and was given orders from Washington not to permit US troops to “fraternize” with Japanese women. According to those who were present, he took one look at the message from on high and tossed it into the trash can while he quoted his father’s advice.

  • wayne

    Chamber of Commerce–
    It should be called the group of businessmen who enforce monopoly and oligopoly amongst the locals.
    One needs to stay away from these people, no matter where you live.

    Why are they “in charge” of the 4th of July parade?
    If they want to sponsor it, they can get their checkbook out.

  • “Symbols associated with specific political movements, . . .”

    Like, um, the American flag?

  • Dick Eagleson

    It would seem that the movement of a number of Oregon counties to secede from that state and join “Greater Idaho” might want to look a tad more closely at what it professes to wish to join.

  • Andi

    Minor typo in first sentence: “Coeur d’Alene

  • Mike Borgelt

    Dick Eagleson, Idaho has to better than Oregon, though.

  • Andi. Fixed. Thank you. This is the kind of thing when you have blind spot at the focal point. Letters can drop out and I won’t even see it.

  • Richard M

    I am not too surprised at the pushback on religious displays. Among other things, Coeur d’Alene/Post Falls has a pretty sizable cluster of traditional Catholics that have taken root there, and is quite known for this around the country in trad-Cath circles. (Even more unusually, they exist as three groups in some tension with each other: a canonically regular community based on the Fraternal Society of St Peter (FSSP), a canonically irregular group based on the SSPX, and a group of outright sedevacantists (Catholics who believe the Papacy is vacant, falsely occupied by modernist imposters)).

    Add in the evangelicals around town, and it makes for milieu willing to make a serious fuss when a local appatchik tries something like this. The sad thing is that one tried to do it anyway. There is no escaping our modern jacobins, it seems.

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