As I have gotten a little older, and a little wiser, I have tried my best to always be respectful of other people.  That being said, I am human, so sometimes I fail... But, I try to start every morning asking God to help me be kind to all those I encounter

I think that is why seeing these videos made my blood boil.  It was not the points the creators of the videos are trying to make.  I understand the concerns that they were trying to highlight.  Nope, what made me angry was the blatant disrespect shown to the hard working people in these videos.  They wasted these people's time and, in some cases, hurled insults and accusations at them.

I stumbled across the Accountability For All Youtube video about Friendship, Maine while I was looking for videos about the State of Maine.  The headline of "ID REFUSAL GONE WRONG!  ENTIRE TOWN GETS OWNED" is what drew me in.

The video features two men visiting the Friendship town office.  They are doing what they refer to as a "First Amendment Audit".  Basically, they film themselves taking full advantage of their First Amendment rights.  They walk around public areas, recording video of those areas, and commenting on what they perceive to be things that are not in the public's best interest.  Paid public officials not doing their jobs, for example.

IMPORTANT NOTE: Keep in mind that, as far as we can tell, they are not doing anything illegal.  According to the Recording Law website, it is perfectly legal to record a conversation or take video of a conversation in a non-private place as long as at least one party agrees to have it recorded.  In this case, that one party would be the videographer.  It would be different if the conversation took place in a private place, like a bathroom or changing room.  In that case,  all involved would have to agree to have the conversation recorded.

In the Friendship video, the Youtubers take video of the common areas inside the town office.  They then engage with the woman behind the counter about the availability of a bathroom for public use.  She explains that the building is being renovated and that there is a porta-potty for public use.  She then politely asks if there is anything she can help them with.  They tell her no.  She asks why they are filming and they tell her they want video of the "beautiful building".  She then goes back to work.  One of the Youtubers then tries to re-engage her about the bathroom.  Things ramp up from there.

Take a look at the video.  Yes, it is 35 minutes long, but it is worth watching the whole thing.

That video, and most of the other videos on that channel, strike a nerve with me.  These gentlemen enter government buildings with the sole purpose of trying to entrap (into violating First Amendment rights) or get a reaction out of unsuspecting public workers.  And, if they fail to get a reaction on their first attempt, they try again. And, again.  And, at times, they hurl insults at the people they are interacting with.

For example, after the woman behind the counter told them the bathroom was not available and that there was a porta-potty out back, one of the men declared that he was going to use the bathroom and re-engaged the employee again.  At that point, other people began to be dragged into the situation.

I get that the Youtubers feel that, because the bathroom is in a government building, it should be available to the public.  Fine.  Make that comment in your video and move on with your day.

Instead, several other people had to drop what they were doing in order to deal with the escalating situation.  For example, Bubba had to delay picking his daughter up because he was sorting the situation out.

The men and women who keep the towns and cities of Maine going are hard working individuals who really don't have time to deal with someone who has nothing better to do than create monetized Youtube videos.  This is especially true in our smaller towns.  In many cases, the government officials are part time only.  They have real jobs that take up much of their time.

Honestly, I am amazed at how well the selectmen and selectwomen of the town handled the situation.  They used incredible tact when dealing with two men who, clearly, were not local to the town randomly showed up at their town office to record video and rant about the bathroom.

I am pretty sure that one of the reasons so many people showed up so quickly was out of concern for their coworkers.  Sadly, these days, you cannot be too cautious when it comes to people acting strangely in government buildings. Honestly, I probably would not have been so nice had I been the one called away from other duties to deal with the situation.

Friendship was not the only town they visited, either.  They stopped by Saco, Clinton, Waldoboro, and Waterville.  It's like they took their own strange tour of Maine.

What is your opinion?  Do you think the Youtubers were right in how they handled their visits to the town offices?  Or, are you as angry as I am?

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