While much of the country was watching the debate between the two major parties’ presidential candidates Tuesday night, a handful of dimwits were engaging in a “debate” of their own.
Columbia County deputies have arrested three people, ranging in age from 17 to 29, for spray-painting a circled “X’ on campaign signs for Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
The signs are shared with those of Congressional candidate Lee Anderson, but his were left untouched as the vandals focused their inartful commentary on the presidential race.
It’s easy to assume that the three – if they’re registered to vote – plan to vote for someone other than Romney. That’s certainly their right. But the appropriate place to express their disagreement with the Republican candidate is at the ballot box.
In a free country, the remedy for speech with which you disagree is more speech. Like Romney and President Obama, you present your ideas for a ruling in the court of public opinion. You don’t resort to violence or vandalism.
Beyond calling their criminal behavior what it is, the actions of these three can be written off as youthful overexuberance, or just plain stupidity. But the statement their vandalism makes probably isn’t the one they intend.
Rather than representing opposition to ideas with which they disagree, the vandalism is a sign that the trio, and people like them, believe it’s acceptable to try to silence competing ideas without even attempting to present better ones. Taken to its extreme, such views aren’t far on the continuum from the Taliban terrorists who shot and critically wounded a 14-year-old Pakistani girl for advocating education for women.
Our country is better than that. Speech is free for all, not just for those with the loudest voice or biggest spray-can.