Threats and intimidation against public officials are obviously never OK, even when we disagree on policy

By ELIZABETH HOVDE  | 
Jun 14, 2022
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It’s becoming a common headline: An angry activist tries to intimidate or threaten a public official. We’ve seen deadly threats against judges in Washington, D.C., and we're seeing intimidating behavior against officials in our own state.

The Spokesman-Review reports that state health officials who support the vaccine mandate have received intimidation or threats from those opposed to the mandate.

In a recent session of the state Public Disclosure Commission, Washington Secretary of Health Umair Shah read some of the online messages in which he’d been called “a monster,” “a fraud” and an “accessory to murder.”

“The Board of Health and some other elected officials involved in COVID-19 decisions had been compared to the Gestapo,” The Spokesman-Review reports. One message said, “If you choose to jab our children, there will be an uprising.” Another said, “If you move forward you will have a civil war on your hands.”

Senate Republican leader Sen. John Braun, R-Centralia, denounced threats against public officials. In a recent statement highlighted by The Chronicle, he said:

“It’s fair to question or criticize government’s response to the pandemic. Many of us have. But it’s completely unacceptable for anyone to threaten Secretary Shah, the state Board of Health or others in our state or local public health agencies.” He added that threats and intimidation were used to impose the vaccine mandates, but two wrongs don’t make a right.

They never do. He’s right. Job loss, threats of job loss and other penalties imposed by the governor do not justify harsh behavior, intimidation or threatening responses from those opposing the policy.

Vaccine mandate opponents need to stay civil and reasonable. Increasingly, the facts appear to support their viewpoint. It’s becoming clear how misguided the vaccine mandate is and how disruptive the firings and job losses have been to people’s lives and to taxpayer-funded services.

When people are being stupid or threatening, we should do what we can to make them stop. The vaccine mandate has many problems, but the policy should be argued based on its own merits, not on personal threats.

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