Letters to the Editor

Inflammatory emails put decency, tolerance at risk | Letters

It has come to my attention that e-mails containing a video of me are circulating.

The video was first posted on a blog, then e-mailed from one real estate agent to another on San Juan Island. The video is a 5-minute excerpt of a speech I gave in June 2012.

(The excerpt can be viewed here: http://vimeo.com/47054431, and the full panel discussion here: http://vimeo.com/47054429 ).

Without asking me about the video, or the context — the e-mail states: "After watching this video I'm not sure if Lisa is a socialist or communist."

For the record, the video is from a talk I gave about the history of the ideas that led to the current day community land trust model for providing affordable housing. To assign a political philosophy to me based on that talk is inaccurate and inflammatory.

I’m not surprised about people criticizing me or expressing different opinions. That comes with the territory of running for office. What concerns me is the effect that viral e-mails with misinformation have on the culture of our community.

I have found again and again that civil interactions with people, whether they agree or disagree with me, broaden my understanding and strengthen my connections. Like so many of us, I have had to learn how to use e-mail effectively, which often means limiting its use.

It is easy to forward an e-mail without thinking about the consequences. I think it is valuable to ask: is there evidence that validates the information presented? Could I say to someone’s face, the thing that I am sending to others?

The culture of this place is tended by each of us. When we fail to treat one another as we would want to be treated, we risk losing the decency and tolerance we have cultivated. I appeal to each of you to hold steadfast to our culture of mutual respect.

If you read something about a candidate, ask yourself if the source is authenticated. If not, consider replying to the person and suggesting that he or she verify facts.

If you wish to learn more about me, or any of the candidates, contact us directly, check out our websites or meet us at any of the numerous forums and events occurring in the coming weeks. Let’s debate the issues and examine candidates’ actual qualifications, not engage in mud-slinging and innuendo.

Lisa Byers/Orcas Island

— Editor's note: LIsa Byers is a candidate for the County Council District 2 position, Orcas and outer islands.


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