No one should fear retribution for voicing opinions | Publisher's Column | Corrected

The arguments over OLF Coupeville and Navy carrier landing practices are frequently heated and opinions often stinging.

Some are frustrated by what they hear, maybe even infuriated — but it’s all in the spirit of a healthy public debate over a difference of ideals.

Now, however, public debate has apparently crossed the line into private property damage.

Members of a North Whidbey group says hand-made signs about Navy jet noise are being vandalized and they claim law enforcement officials are turning a blind eye to their complaints.

Becky Spraitzar, a member of the Concerned Island Citizens, said she and others in the group planted five signs critical of jet noise in different locations on the island.

Three of the signs were vandalized multiple times and one disappeared, Spraitzer said.

Vandalism of someone’s personal property is, at best, trespassing and illegal. Defacing signs in an attempt to mute the opinion of another qualifies as thuggish and lowbrow.

In this battle over jet noise, there are people on both sides of the debate who said they fear retribution.

While likely committed by a handful of people, the acts of vandalism have the potential to tarnish the efforts of those who support the Navy base and continuing landing practices at OLF Coupeville.

All of us should actively denounce these acts of vandalism and encourage everyone to express their opinions about the federal lawsuit, OLF Coupeville and jet noise in the form of words and opinions.

Acts of trespassing and property damage disparage the very freedoms that our military fight so diligently to preserve.

Nobody should be in fear of retribution for expressing their opinion or standing up for what they believe.


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