There was a reason the city of Charleston began licensing tour guides. It was part of the preservation effort that has proven to be the envy of many.

Now Charleston’s reputation is being challenged based on the First Amendment. It appears that challenge is coming from people who cannot measure up under the scrutiny that the city requires of its tour guides.

Certainly everyone has First Amendment rights to tell old Charleston stories, a practice that is a part of our culture — one that we do not want to see die out.

Being paid as a licensed city guide is another matter, based on study, research, knowledge of history and passing a rigorous oral and written exam. Many people show guests around and tells stories; only licensed guides are legally allowed to be paid for it.

The tour guide examination sets a high standard of what can be said on a paid tour. Licensed city guides provide a professional service and uphold our city’s motto: “Aedes Mores Juraque Curat.” (She guards her buildings, customs and laws.)

During Mayor Joe Riley’s tenure he signed all tour guide licenses and called us ambassadors of the city. We believe Mayor John Tecklenburg will do likewise. If standards are removed as they have been in our nation’s capital and Savannah, within 20 years there will be no more licensed city guides in the Holy City. Imagine. Do we want to participate in the “dumbing down of America” here in the Holy City? We live in a city set apart and admired for excellence. Let’s continue to protect her and our freedom of speech.

The mission statement of the Institute for Justice (lawyers representing the plaintiffs) includes the words “to provide children with a good education.” Children will be examined and tested throughout their lives.

We want to continue testing and maintain high standards in our profession.

We would like to thank The Post and Courier for reporting on the recent suit filed in U.S. District Court by the Institute for Justice out of Washington, D.C. We also thank Brian Hicks for his support for licensed city of Charleston guides.

June McKnight

Laura Wichmann Hipp

Charleston Tea Party

Private Tour Licensed

and Registered Tour Guides

Long Grove Drive

Mount Pleasant