New Paltz: To Pledge or not to Pledge

New Paltz consists of two municipalities, the geographically larger town of New Paltz, within which is the geographically smaller but denser population center, the village of New Paltz. Each has a governing board and under each is a planning board. These planning boards review proposals to build in their respective jurisdictions.

A member of the town planning board, which has seven members, proposed that the board begin each meeting with the Pledge of Allegiance. Obviously, at the time she made the proposal the board was not reciting the Pledge.

When something like this happens, whether you agree with the proposal or not, I think the rule-of-thumb is to say “sure, why not?” and then take the fifteen seconds at the start of each meeting to recite the Pledge. If anyone feels uncomfortable with that, then he can simply not say it.  He can even roll his eyes and sigh. But he will have not insulted either our homely old Pledge or our country or the person who proposed saying it. This rule-of-thumb can be called the “don’t be impolite about the Pledge” rule. When someone says “let’s say it” and you don’t want to say it, you get to not say it. But anyone who wants to say it gets to say it. This isn’t hard to understand.

What you don’t do, if you’re a member of such a board, is say something like “it’s a waste of time” and then complain that the Pledge includes the phrase “under God” and make a stink about it. That is bad form. The Pledge is the Pledge.

So, the town planning board voted 4-3 not to say the Pledge. The two members who voted “no” but claimed they did so because they did not want to “divide” the board accomplished what? They accomplished a shitstorm.

That’s why my rule-of-thumb — “sure, why not?” — is the way to proceed. Go back and try again. Please, do not make me come to one of those meetings to explain this in person.

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