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Fair play: Free speech under attack

August 09. 2017 9:11PM

As far as cutting-edge humor or insightful social commentary, a T-shirt that reads “Black Flies Matter” hardly ranks with the comedy of Lenny Bruce.

But neither is it racist propaganda.

A vendor selling this simple play on words at the Cheshire Fair last weekend drew the attention, and the ire, of Black Lives Matter NH, which alerted its Facebook friends to “multiple symbols of racist hate and racial intolerance being openly displayed at the Cheshire Fair.”

There were a few confederate flags, and the offending T-shirt, which the group argued “creates an unsafe environment for black folks and all people of color.”

What utter foolishness!

Someone selling, or wearing, a T-shirt you dislike does not endanger anyone. The Cheshire Fair has every right to determine what vendors can sell on its grounds, but it should not police those wares to prevent oversensitive fools from getting the vapors.

How sad must it be to be so angered by a T-shirt instead of enjoying a small county fair on a warm, summer afternoon in Swanzey, New Hampshire? Has racism in America been reduced to mediocre puns?

The kerfuffle is reminiscent of last year’s Facebook post complaining about a swastika on an antique flour sack.

Following the complaints, fair organizers promise to have a “plan in place” to prevent future outrages. That is chilling. We should not give hecklers a veto over T-shirt selection.

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