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By on August 2, 2016

The Cost of Keeping Silent

Sarah Ross was threatened with death after organizing a rally against racism. (Photo: Meg Daly)

Sarah Ross was threatened with death after organizing a rally against racism. (Photo: Meg Daly)

We all know the famous judicial phrase that begins: “You have the right to remain silent…”

We also have the moral duty to not remain silent when our conscience tells us so.

On Thursday, July 21, on the town square, a gathering of people voiced their views on the political and racial state of affairs in our country. If I refer to The Planet’s reporting in The Buzz 2: “Anger Erupts Over Anti-Racism Rally,”(July 27), there were two main themes. The first was “Black Lives Matter,” and the second is the idea that white people who remain silent about the disproportionate amount of fatal violence against people of color are tacitly endorsing it.

I have to assume that the local government authorized the demonstration.

If you are of the fearful kind, you might feel threatened by a group, which states that people of their race have been too often on the wrong side of a gun barrel for no good reason. Personally, I do not feel threatened by BLM and I see the point of their stance. I am also deeply distressed by the horrifying senseless killings of law officers nationwide, which can only aggravate tensions among the population.

The Planet reported that an older white man took umbrage at the crowd, pointing at the veterans’ monument, in the center of the square, telling the rally’s young organizer that if she were to die, she should know where it was coming from.

To threaten to take someone’s life is serious and it happened right here, in the center of Jackson. One could assume that the person was psychologically deranged. The other possibility, however, is that he was influenced by the rhetoric of a certain presidential candidate. Rhetoric that is alarmingly trickling down to members of the general populace and giving them license to champion threatening and hateful behaviors.

What that person said is undeniably similar to what a Hitlerian thug would have told a German Jew in the 1930s. Let us not ever forget what happened then.

This is the reason we cannot stay silent. In Teton County, where we pride ourselves on being open minded and tolerant of many subjects, it is our moral duty to rebuke that kind of behavior.

Freedom of speech gives citizens the right to voice what they believe; on the other hand there are unquestionably no excuses to respond to someone’s views with deadly threats.

— Yves Desgouttes, a Teton County citizen who cannot keep silent

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