EDITORIAL: Tolerate our war protesters

A small group of antiwar demonstrators in Oak Harbor, led by Jeremy Steinsiek, has received negative reaction from some passing motorists, ranging from angry words and gestures to a thrown cup of cold water and an alleged assault. It’s easy to understand why tempers boil over at the sight of the protesters, but it’s also important to tolerate their presence.

Steinsiek is particularly galling to some. Unlike the polite and respectful protesters in Coupeville, he’s confrontational. Admitting he has a “mouth that tends to run off,” he exchanges words and gestures with passersby, and some say he and his friends are the first to use foul words and obscene gestures. It’s hard to take, particularly for the many Oak Harbor residents with loved ones risking their lives in Operation Iraqi Freedom. Political viewpoints are one thing, but foul language and gestures are another. In the alleged assault, it will be up to the judge to decide who is to blame.

The protesters would be well advised to clean up their act. Deliver your antiwar message with respect and intelligence. But even if they refuse, violence either in words or actions is not an acceptable response from the public. You don’t have to admire these people, or believe they symbolize what our service members are fighting for. In fact, the war is being fought so men and women can live in freedom and dignity without fear, not so punks can spout off on a street corner. But unseemly demonstrators are a necessary byproduct of freedom and therefore a sign that our country remains free. Keeping that in mind when you drive by the corner of Barrington and Highway 20. It will make the scene easier to tolerate, as you must.

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