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Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

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Saturday, December 15, 2007

Pacifism – Just in Case

Last week’s furor has waned to a level where perhaps we can evaluate the causal episode objectively. The brouhaha started when a resident wrote what some believe to be a threatening email to a councilor and where shortly thereafter the resident’s property was vandalized.

Here is the email:

To the "Marco Axis of Evil"

The four of you are a disgrace not just to democratic government, but to the human species.

I sincerely hope that you have "slipped up" somewhere along the line. I can guarantee you that once the elections are over, I will be actively involved in the charge to demand a full audit of every penny. If there is an opportunity to get even one of you bastards on anything, I hope we have the satisfaction of being able to ruin you financially --hopefully with criminal charges also--and see your families suffer as you have made so many families on this island suffer though your actions.

And [councilperson], you are the one who should suffer the most. Because you are most directly responsible for this situation. Your lies to get elected caused this. And your continued support in the face of overwhelming opposition by the HUGE majority of Marco Island voters, will not be forgotten.

I hope your family suffers for your actions as mine has--and will continue to for years and years to come. You will be held accountable.

The vandalism was reported to be a punctured tire, bleach being poured on a lawn and eggs being thrown.

Is the email threatening? Did those suggesting that the vandalism was retaliation to the email fall for the logical fallacy of post hoc ergo proctor hoc?

We asked a sociologist with no interest or information on island issues if the email could be considered a threat to wit the response is “the email is clearly written in a threatening manner and therefore it would be expected to be taken as a threat”.

As to whether or not the vandalism was in direct retaliation to the email is a finding we may never know for the rather obvious reason that the investigative arm of local law enforcement is well beyond politicized - which in this case will be a real shame since there will always be an unintended aura of suspicion on the councilperson.

Let’s move on.

Though we all must promote, encourage and support free speech, not all speech is protected. Additionally, while forced or self-imposed censorship it undoubtedly completely contrary to the foundations of this country, some discretion in using that right should be exercised especially in volatile environments.

The reaction to how we have been governed in the past few years has led to widespread resentment and therefore to the explosive environment. The bitterness has been exacerbated through the use of derogatory, denigrating and violent terms by anonymous and ignoble supporters of the offending governing practices. Newspaper sponsored articles further demeaning in vulgar terminology those who disagree with the present governance furthers the forsaking nature of desperation.

But still, irrespective of how we are governed, even intimating threats towards those that govern us are unacceptable. Threats are an act of violence and as such they are objectionable as expounded by Mohandas Ghandi: “I object to violence because when it appears to do good, the good is only temporary; the evil it does is permanent”.

In the context of Marco Island, let’s keep in mind that regardless of what many think to be utterly inane and bizarre decisions by those that have been elected, BY US, some of the elected that make weird decisions are honorable decent people. Disagree with their policies and question their decisions, but personal attacks and threats in any form are abhorrent.

So what is the populace to do? While anger is a normal human emotion, directing rage as intimidation towards the governance through words or deeds is ill advised. Anger is readily interpreted as threats, threats are acts of violence, and threatening the body that masters it through their inherent power is unwise. Hence, approach the real or perceived abuse of government through pacifism in deeds and in words lest a torrent of malevolence prevail otherwise.

2 Comments:

  • Wishing some one ill out of fustration and desperation is a far cry from the individuals that performed actual violance. Let's not try and treat them as the same.

    One needs to be shown how to express their fustration in a more positve manner(get out the vote). The other needs to be aressted.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Sunday, December 16, 2007 7:52:00 AM  

  • agreed - they should not be treated one and the same and i hope i did not come across that way.

    they could be unrelated events. hence we must at this time treat them separately.

    i chose to treat the free speech issue as that is the only aspect of this matter that is clear and documented.

    violence is not acceptable - as i said in the article. whomever perpetrated the violence must be punished. and if and when we know who did it and for what reason then we can comment at that time.

    of the two, the violence if far worse. hence i agree again that they should not be treated equally.

    but i posit that it is best to fix through recommendations that what we know for a fact, as oppose to try to fix something that we know very little of.

    the shame is going to be that we may never know who did the violence.

    for now the best and most we can do as prudent people is simply condemn it. and when we know who and why, then we can further the discussion then.

    i do find it odd though not surprising that, at least to my knowledge, no one from the present governance condemned the vandalism.

    By Blogger Mario R. Sanchez, Ph.D., at Monday, December 17, 2007 9:55:00 AM  

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