I was talking to a friend about my video project “My Marshall,” which was about to air on URTV, and how excited I was. Even though the piece was uninspiring and probably boring, that was unimportant. What was important was the chance to communicate to my friends and strangers a little of what I see in the world—to show the world from my perspective and to exercise freedom of expression and freedom of speech. To me, that is what URTV is all about: freedom of expression, freedom of speech.
My friend was also excited, because he was a former viewer of the Mad Scientist Tea Party and was the first to tell me he had seen me on that show—which he found zany and entertaining. He allowed as to how, from what he had been reading, things were perhaps not going as well at URTV as they should be. I allowed as how, as far as the operation of the station was going, things were great. The facilities are beautiful, the equipment is first rate and perfectly kept and the staff are knowledge and friendly and helpful. The only thing I can see it lacks is more local content. More local writing, more local acting, more local music. But that is very doable.
The important point is to support and enhance the only source of public access in Western North Carolinian. It gives anyone a chance to speak their mind. There is a reason that the First Amendment to the Constitution is about free speech. Without free speech—the ability to speak our mind without fear of any impediment—there are no other freedoms, and we are no longer living in a free country.
Which brings me to the Wednesday meeting to dismiss Ms. Davyne Dial from the URTV board. Ms. Dial is a dear friend, but the other board members are also friends, as are most of the people involved.
What I would like, pray and hope to see is for everyone to take a step back, take a deep breath and see where we are heading. The law of unintended consequences is always working and is as sure as gravity. Ms. Dial’s presence on the board cannot possibly hurt the board in any way—and is positive, in the sense that dissent and another perspective is not only healthy, it is required in order to keep everyone acting in an upright way.
But what is also sure as gravity is that the dismissal of Ms. Dial will have a profound effect. It is ungenerous, unkind and probably illegal from a constitutional perspective, no matter what the lawyer says. Something similar happened in my church over songbooks. A difference of opinion led to a divisive splitting of the church and a lifetime of hurt and regret.
My advice here is simple: Call this whole thing off. Be tolerant, generous, forgiving.
— Steve Rice