Bullying is a problem seen on the nightly news. Now it has come to our community.
Bullying is a way of one group getting what they want through intimidation and threats instead of working through a legal or community process.
Since the vote at the Coupeville Recreation Hall in June by more than 250 people to close Outlying Field Coupeville, I have watched a pattern of bullying escalate by people opposed to closing the OLF and to the Citizens of Ebey’s Reserve’s efforts to request an Environmental Impact Statement.
I have heard and seen threatening and insulting comments at public meetings, in the newspapers, on media websites and social media sites, including calls for boycotts, name calling and half-truths.
Empathy has been disregarded in favor of belligerent jingoism.
Bullying includes verbal harassment or threats, physical assault or coercion.
Any figure of authority or power which uses intimidation as a primary means of motivating others can be referred to as a bully.
And when a bully encounters no negative response from bystanders, it encourages continuation of the behavior.
Bullies hope to be intimidating enough that bystanders will be unwilling to assist, fearing that if they do so, they may become the next victim.
Being passive, however, only strengthens the motivation to remain passive.
I have spoken with many people who have said they are afraid to speak out in support of closing OLF out of fear of reprisal or intimidation.
If we let bullying continue, the individual and the community suffer. Leaving it unchecked means letting it continue.
The only way to disrupt a bullying pattern is to demonstrate confidence and backbone.
In our current situation, the victims of bullying are the people/groups who support an EIS at the OLF through a legal process.
Let’s call out the bullies and the bullying behavior and ask others, our elected leaders and our media to do the same.