First Amendment applies to everyone including elected officials

The First Amendment to the United States Constitution:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”
We take the First Amendment pretty seriously in the newspaper business in Ely, Minnesota. When a city council member was harshly criticized for posting a meme on a Facebook closed group for some reason it stoked a fire storm.
Let’s back up. What’s a meme? Here’s Google’s interpretation: “A humorous image, video, piece of text, etc. that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.”
The meme so upsetting to some was a picture of Dr. Kevorkian that read, “Do you suffer from Trump acceptance rejection disorder (tard)? Ask you doctor if suicide is right for you.”
So we have a meme, which apparently was found to be humorous or it wouldn’t be a meme, that offended people in a group labeled “pantsuit nation Minnesota.”
From what we can gather the meme was immediately deleted and yet there seems to be a multitude of people who were offended and that number appears to be growing.
Setting all of that aside, we would like to point out that even elected officials have a right to voice their opinion, even in Ely, Minnesota and even in a closed group on Facebook through a meme. There is no legal precedent that exempts an elected official from having the same First Amendment rights as the rest of us.
And since elected officials are human, they like the rest of us, will say or express themselves in ways that others may find offensive. In Washington that seems to happen on a regular basis. In fact if you follow politics closely you’re likely to be offended faster than Christmas items hitting store shelves after Thanksgiving.
Now, do people who may have been offended have a right to voice their opinion? Yup. The First Amendment is for everyone and if you read it all the way through you saw the language to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
This has already happened in the council chambers once and we expect there will be more this coming Tuesday.
We just hope people can take a look at the big picture here and keep in mind everyone has an opinion and some may be funny to some and offensive to others.
That doesn’t mean an elected official should have to resign or face official action for posting a meme. That is stifling free speech and the First Amendment and to us, that is not acceptable.