An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.
THE WONDERFUL THING about the society we live in is our freedom to say what we want within certain limits. We can’t engage in hate speech or promote violence but we can fight for change or against change as loudly as we want.
Whoever attacked a young man for tearing down posters at the Kingston Avenue property on which a homeless shelter will be erected obviously missed the memo.
News reports say the 21-year-old man with autism spectrum disorder was removing anti-shelter posters from a fence at the site when he was punched in the face by someone who apparently objected to what he was doing.
At the weekend, Mayor Ken Christian and Attorney General David Eby issued a statement condemning the incident. “While people may have differences of opinion on how best to support community members experiencing homelessness, violence is not a solution,” they said.
The mayor and the attorney general are absolutely right, of course.
The so-called “posters” were photo-copied 8 by 11.5-inch sheets of paper that were, no doubt, run off on a home printer. The wording was overly dramatic but not incendiary.
They were more like rudimentary leaflets than posters. There were a lot of them but they weren’t defacing anything. Once they were posted, though, they no longer belonged to the person who posted them. Removing them amounted to nothing more than a counterprotest.
Posters, leaflets, graffiti, placards and the like have been used as vehicles of protest at least since ancient Rome. So, on the one hand, someone decided to engage in an age-old form of protest, and someone else decided to counterprotest by removing what the first person had posted.
There’s no good reason in the world it should have resulted in a physical confrontation.
There’s much to question about this project, and there will be much to argue in favour of it. Surely it can be done respectfully and lawfully.
Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.