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Martin Luther King Jr. had a dream. I have a nightmare.

In my nightmare I see the image of an iconic Norman Rockwell painting, depicting a tall, casually dressed man standing to speak at a public function. Standing erectly in the company of his attentive community, he is clear-eyed and focused on exercising his right to address his local government. There is a touch of sentimentality, typical of Rockwell, but always a truth as well. The picture suggests what generations fought and died for, a treasure not to be squandered by someone who would desecrate the essence of one of our foundational constitutional rights.

Letters to the mailbag were limited by the Baraboo News Republic, now our diminutive, Napoleonic, messianic Sauk County chair doubles down, proposing further limitations on speech at board meetings. My nightmare depicts the chairman, perched precariously on a stool, gnarled fingers choking the last breath of free speech from Rockwell’s speaker.

I do indeed have a nightmare, common I hope, not just to myself, but to all Americans. Here is freedom stolen, nibbled away bit by bit, by seemingly harmless gnomes, and thoughtlessly abetted by the clueless.

James Lombard, Baraboo