Signs of the Times - David Brown's Remarks at the Free Speech Monument dedication
April 2006
First Amendment Monument Celebration: David Brown's Remarks at the Free Speech Monument dedication
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On behalf of the City of Charlottesville, I would like to thank Mr Sanford, Mr O'Neil and Mr Wheeler of The Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression for bringing this monument, of national and international significance, to our downtown mall.

On behalf of the larger Charlottesville Community, I would like to thank you for recognizing the role Charlottesville has played and honoring the contributions that Thomas Jefferson made to all of our freedom by locating this monument here.

But I also want to extend my personal thanks. As my sons move into adulthood and I think about their future, I worry about the steady erosion of freedoms I have always taken for granted.

Some of these freedoms we seem to give up willingly. We allow databases of personal information of our buying habits to be built, in exchange for a savings card at Harris Teeter or to gain frequent flyer miles with our Mastercard, and we allow databases of our travel habits in exchange for the convenience of EZPass.

Some freedoms we give up less willingly, as private information is collected every time we visit the hospital, or as we submit to searches of our belongings in order to travel.

And some freedoms are simply being taken away from us, through the Patriot Act, the prosecution and jailing of members of the press and more recently, through unauthorized wiretaps.

I believe that this monument will serve as a visible reminder of not just this basic freedom but of all the freedoms we hold dear -- and for that sign I thank you.

- David Brown (April 20, 2006)

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