“Committed to finding a middle ground”

Kelsey Flynn writes about her experience at NPN’s August 2 public meeting on Your Stories Northampton:

Since I recently moved within half a block of the proposed [King Street porn shop] site, I went to hear the latest….

At seven o’clock, the room was full with more than twenty-five people in attendance, some forced to stand on the sides as all the chairs were taken….

[NPN co-founder Adam] Cohen spoke very briefly about the proposed zoning law and then opened up the meeting to questions or comments. What followed was a two-hour discussion marked by concern regarding NoPornNorthampton’s language being possibly perceived as homophobic as well as the wording of the proposed zoning law being too broad so as to adversely affect Northampton’s other adult-themed stores Pride and Joy and Oh, My!…

The majority of people in attendance spoke of their particular concern regarding [porn viewing] booths because of their alleged use for various sex acts….

I walked away from the meeting heartened. Not because there were definite answers to a very complicated issue of rights and legalities, but because I live in a community where people respect one another to first listen and then respond. I felt there were no “knee jerks” in that room. People definitely were disagreeing but all who spoke did so calmly and articulately. Considering how divisive this issue can be, it was clear the people present were committed to finding a middle ground.

Read the complete article.

The Republican also had articles about this meeting on August 3 and August 13.

The Gazette’s city editor, Laurie Loisel, published a commentary on August 10, referencing the meeting. She writes,

“Maybe we can’t all agree on what pornography is. And yes, there is the no-small-matter of free speech and free trade to consider. But people who live in a city have a stake in its economic well-being.

“From an economic development standpoint, there are many valid questions to think about: will this business help revitalize an area with multiple empty storefronts? Will it hurt? Will it bring new jobs to the city? Will its patrons frequent other city establishments?

“These are legitimate issues–and fair questions–for city residents and city planners to be asking.

“We should not let the laudable desire to protect free speech stop us from asking them.”

Read the complete commentary
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