July 4 committee clarifies issue

Letter to the editor

Posted: Wednesday, July 28, 2004

To clear up what "inappropriate" entries are, these are those entries that have not submitted a completed entry form. Only those that have submitted a completed entry form constitute a legal entry regardless of the entry's content or message.

This has always been the Juneau 4th of July Parade Committee's standard and has never changed.

The person that caused all the "controversy" (as stated in the Juneau Empire on July 18) was not a legal parade entry and joined in the parade unbeknownst to the committee.

The committee never used the term "censor" in any statements to the press or members of the general public.

We are a small group of volunteers that work hard spending many hours from July to July trying to insure that a great parade is enjoyed by all.

The following advice was sent to the committee in a letter from the mayor: "The Juneau Festival Association and the Fourth of July Parade Committee always recognized the importance of the First Amendment. Upon reflection, the Association and the Committee decided to follow First Amendment principles. They will approve any legal parade applicant regardless of the entry's content or message. Public authorities or interested onlookers may of course seek to discipline in the courts any entrant whose speech exceeds the wide boundaries the First Amendment allows. The Association and the Committee agree that the First Amendment protects even speech and demonstrations that may make some people uncomfortable. The Association and the Parade Committee will concentrate their effort on holding the best parades possible and encourage entrants to help them achieve that goal."

Next year's forms will have the mayor's guidelines incorporated and an effort will be made to have the guidelines published prior to the parade.

The guidelines leave it up to the public or onlookers to take any entrant to court on their own if they feel the entrant exceeds the wide boundaries of the First Amendment.

Gerald J. Dorsher, Director,

Juneau 4th of July Parade Committee



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