Liberty’s Lens

Let me open this paper by saying a little something about this issue’s cover. Taken by a photographer who goes by the name koitz, born in the Basque region of Spain, he decided to make thiscountry, as well as Fire Island, his home. In 2015 he was bestowed University of Southern California’s prestigious Founders Cultural Award, and he is the man behind a wildly popular little pink book, entitled “Gay Fire Island.”When he graciously accepted our invitation to be a guest contributor and cover last week’s Pride Parade in Cherry Grove, I knew how fortunate we were. He was prompt, professional and the work he delivered did not disappoint. It was a good Monday morning sharing that colorful photo spread on Facebook, as it generated so much engagement and delight.So imagine my shock to discover at 7 a.m. on Tuesday morning that I had been banned from Facebook for 30 days! What was my offense? Sharing pictures of a pride parade on a news publisher’s social media page apparently. The ban meant that for a month I could not share pictures of my cats, wish my sister Miriam an online birthday greeting, or write a public thank you message to the Ocean Beach Community Fund for their recent support of my husband’s animal welfare charity. It also meant platform activities for my employer’s page were restricted, and 30 days is summer half gone.In the end it was one of those algorithm things, all privileges were restored in only a few hours, and I am fortunate to have peers who stood by me. What a timely reminder of how fragile the underpinnings of free speech and press can be. In this country we boisterously express ourselves without hesitation, and it’s why we celebrate the Fourth of July holiday.Several articles in this issue also address this subject in one way or another. Lorna Luniewski writes about one Corneille Estates family’s joy in decorating their house for Pride Month spoiled by hate. Isabella Braddish, the newest reporter to the FIN team, asks hard questions about repercussions when one community draws a line in the sand. And guest contributor Damaso Reyes explores how our freedoms can be manipulated by those who seek to exploit it for their own ends.Our independence remains a work in progress.Shoshanna McCollumEditor, Fire Island