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County Councilman Kitchens oversteps his authority

web posted August 15, 2006

OPINION – One of the things that makes the United States of America free is our freedom of speech guaranteed under the first amendment of the Constitution. The most precious of speech protected is political speech. Far be it that we, as citizens, are denied the ability to voice an opinion about our government. However, that is exactly what Edgefield County Councilman Everett Kitchens is trying to prevent in Edgefield County.

On the morning of Monday, August 14, Councilman Kitchens was said to have read “the riot act” to the Clerk of Court due to the cartoon that ran on EdgefieldDaily.com being printed and placed on the public bulletin board at the courthouse. We wonder who Mr. Kitchens thinks he is to berate another elected official about someone else’s political speech. Mr. Kitchens cannot tell an employee of the county to perform any task, much less that of an elected official.

Not to mention that the posting of the cartoon was done by a citizen.

Though Clerk of Court Newby acquiesced and removed almost everything from the public bulletin board, she did not have to, and in our opinion should not have. She should have shown Mr. Kitchens to the door.

If the cartoon is that offensive to Mr. Kitchens, perhaps he needs to do his own job rather than running around telling other people how to do theirs. When a politician does something so arrogant, immature, and unconstitutional it always has a way of biting them square on the buttocks, and rightly so. Mr. Kitchens is no doubt about to learn that lesson the hard way.

The first thing that will take place is the cartoon will return to the bulletin board in the hallway of the courthouse. It will also be placed at the front door of the courthouse main entrance on the public bulletin board that has, since the building was built, served for the public to make postings.

The same bulletin board was also the site of an infamous shooting 166 years ago in July of 1840 according to a historical sign that sits across from the board. “Louis T. Wigfall, an ambitious lawyer, had become a bitter political and personal enemy of Edgefield's Brooks family. After a series of confrontations, Wigfall, a devoted disciple of the Code Duello, challenged Whitfield Brooks, father of the Brooks clan to a duel. When Col. Brooks refused, Wigfall announced his intention of posting a notice on the courthouse that Brooks was a scoundrel and a coward,” the sign reads. As the story continues when the placard was torn down one of the men, Thomas Bird, was killed in an exchange of gunfire that erupted. “Wigfall was charged with murder but the charge was later dismissed,” the sign reads.

We would never suggest such matters result in the exchange of gunfire today because we do not promote violence as a resolution of grievances. We do believe, however, that if Mr. Kitchens had lived in the days of the 1840’s he certainly would have been called a coward and a scoundrel for his actions on Monday. Mr. Kitchens certainly is no gentlemen either when he confronted a woman the way he did. Much less that he did it to one elected by the entire county not just those of his small district and occurring in the hall of the courthouse.

If Mr. Kitchens has a problem with a political cartoon from EdgefieldDaily.com our contact numbers, address, and e-mail are available to him if he wishes to respond properly. Perhaps Mr. Kitchens thought it would be easier to intimidate a woman than the Editor of EdgefieldDaily.com.

If that were the case, he would be correct.

The only thing we can offer is shame on you Mr. Kitchens! You should apologize to the Clerk of Court at once. We also know that will never happen, as the code of the present leaders, the Edgefield County Council, is to “look forward” because the past is “water over the dam.” Honor is long forgotten in the chambers of the county council.

We can only assume the cartoon struck a little too close to home for Mr. Kitchens. If Mr. Kitchens does not like the cartoon being placed on the courthouse bulletin boards, he is certainly not going to like the next place it appears. Bon appetite!


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