Islanders are familiar with the large rock on Beaverton Valley Road which for decades has been a vehicle for wonderful works of public art. Recently it was abused as a method of promoting hate speech targeting a specific family. I hold the town mayor culpable in this by using social media to air inappropriate and immature comments regarding the same family, thereby cultivating a validating atmosphere for this kind of incivility. There has also been bullying at school related to this issue.
This is a loud warning call to the community. It mirrors the national situation in which prejudice and violent acts are condoned by the unrestrained comments of people and high public officials using the mask of social media. If you find yourself privately supporting the motives of the people who wrote the hate message, remember, when these unrestrained passions manifest as tragic violent acts in our schools or public gathering places, there is no distinction between sides; children and family members of all persuasions are injured or killed.
In all my 40 years on the island, I have never seen anything like this, it is wrong. No matter what the issue, we must learn to listen and compromise, see what is good for the community and be civil. My hat is off to the two young people who immediately painted over the hate speech with a loving message. That is wisdom and courage in action. To the man and his accomplice who painted the hate speech, I hope you can find positive empowering ways to express your frustration and find redress without doing further harm.
San Juan Island