Any controversy that involves “free speech” always gets a little murky and heated, because many people can’t seem to agree what that even is. That was definitely the case in the city of Belle Plaine, which had implemented a “free speech area” in Veterans Memorial Park to allow a cross-bearing statue. That led to a Satanic Temple deciding to put up their own monument in the park - also in the name of free speech. Remember that story?


But after impassioned protests on both sides (SHOCKER!), the Belle Plaine city council just made the decision to eliminate the “free speech area” altogether. This is their official statement:

Last night, the Belle Plaine City Council voted to rescind a resolution enacted in February, 2017, that allowed individuals or organizations to place and maintain privately-owned displays in a designated space of the city-owned Veterans Memorial Park.

Win McNamee / Getty Images News

As called-for in the resolution, owners of all privately-owned Park displays currently located in the Park’s designated space are now being given 10 days’ notice to remove the displays. Our local veterans organizations are supportive of this action.

The original intent of providing the public space was to recognize those who have bravely contributed to defending our nation through their military service. In recent weeks and months, though, that intent has been overshadowed by freedom of speech concerns expressed by both religious and non-religious communities.

The debate between those communities has drawn significant regional and national attention to our city, and has promoted divisiveness among our own residents.

While this debate has a place in public dialogue, it has detracted from our city’s original intent of designating a space solely for the purpose of honoring and memorializing military veterans, and has also portrayed our city in a negative light.

Therefore, the Council believes that it is in the best interests of our Belle Plaine community to rescind the resolution, and bring this divisive matter to closure.

My take? I actually think this whole story is pretty hilarious, but ultimately the city council probably made the right call. A free speech area would generally means that either every religion can be represented, or none of them can. Considering the uproar one single statue (or two, technically) caused, they’re likely better off just scrapping the whole thing. That’s just me, though. What do you think?

Source: WCCO & YouTube