Opinion

Don’t allow threats to overshadow the cause | Editorial

We understand the feelings of anger and resentment being exhibited by Navy supporters in response to the federal lawsuit involving Outlying Field Coupeville.

The backlash has been swift and certain. Navy personnel and supporters see the lawsuit as a threat to the safety and welfare of flyers who practice carrier landings at OLF Coupeville.

Demonstrations of support of OLF Coupeville are admirable and acceptable in the realm of public debate.

The safety of our military personnel is of paramount concern.

However, when support for OLF Coupeville ventures into threats of any kind, it creates a blemish on the entire cause. Those leading the charge to keep OLF Coupeville viable and operating need to actively corral those who venture off into the extreme.

Otherwise, the entire pro-OLF effort risks falling under a dark cloud.

People who support the cause may be forced to back off because of the negative undercurrent.

The pro-OLF cause is a result of the lawsuit filed July 15 by the Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve for a Healthy, Safe and Peaceful Environment.

The federal lawsuit, which names the Navy, base commander Capt. Mike Nortier, and Adm. Bill Gortney, Commander Fleet Forces Command, seeks an in-depth review of the operations at OLF Coupeville based on National Environmental Protection Act Standards.

Threats of bodily harm to lawsuit supporters — whether or not they’re made in jest — are flat out unacceptable and shouldn’t be tolerated. Any such threats made on Whidbey News Group websites, including on whidbeynewstimes.com, result in an immediate ban.

Another frequent threat in the OLF Coupeville debate is of an economic nature: There is talk of boycotting any business, or community, deemed unsupportive of the Navy.

One problem surfaced rather quickly, however. Businesses are being deemed unpatriotic based on pure speculation. On one pro-OLF Facebook page, a North Whidbey business was purported to be unsupportive of the Navy and the word quickly spread beyond the Internet site.

It was subsequently determined on the same Facebook page that the business is indeed “very” supportive of the Navy. Business boycotts threaten not only the livelihood of an owner, but also the people they employ and their families.

Boycotts also have the potential to impact city and county sales tax proceeds. That’s money that funds vital programs in all of our island communities.

With an already struggling economy, none of us can afford for our island community to take an even greater hit.

Yes, people have the right to direct their personal spending as they see fit, but publicly tarring a business — or an entire community — as being anti-Navy is a slippery slope.

Trying to determine which businesses may or may not be pro-OLF has the potential to evolve into a modern-day witch hunt. While it’s entirely appropriate to voice support for OLF Coupeville and the men and women who rely on it for their training, that support shouldn’t be allowed to morph into threats.

 

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