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Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to monopolize

By Robert McConnell Productions

How To Run A Meeeting

If you would like to know more about how Parliamentarian Procedure from Little Ben, click here for my DVD called How To Run A Meeting.

 One of the basic principles that our country is founded upon is that of being able to speak your mind without any repercussions.  It is one of the several rights given to us by the First Amendment of the Bill of Rights.  This right to free speech extends to all aspects of our lives including our speech in organizations.  One of the basic rights of membership in an organization is the right to speak freely at meetings – that is during the discussion of a motion at a meeting.  Others may not like what a member says about something but each has a right to speak and give his ideas. 

Debate, or discussion, (the giving of information at meetings) is one of the most important rights members have.  However, there are some rules concerning debate or discussion of ideas.

  1.  Discussion must be germane to the motion that is being discussed.  Germane means relevant to the motion.  For example, if a motion to is to paint the clubhouse a member’s discussion must be related to this issue.  It would not be germane, or in order, to start discussing sending a delegate to the state convention.
  2. Since it is important that all members get to speak, Robert’s Rules has limits to how long one can speak.  He can speak twice to a motion and ten minutes each time. The second time is after everyone who wants to speak the first time has spoken.
  3. Remarks must be courteous and he must not mention the motives of others or reference other members by names, and he must not accuse anyone of wrongdoing or telling lies.  He can bring forward information that does not conform to what others are saying.  He can do this by stating, “The information that I have shows this…”
  4. If one wants to speak longer than the allotted time he can ask permission of the assembly or make a motion that allows it.  This takes a two-thirds vote to adopt or by a method that is called unanimous consent.
  5. A filibuster that is used in the US Senate is never allowed.   

So Little Ben says, “Everyone has the freedom to speak his mind, just not monopolize the discussion or prevent others from speaking.”