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Another view on the ‘threat’

March 8, 2012

By Vicky Vassmer-Simpson

I recently read a My View in the February 16 edition of The River Reporter titled “About that “threat.” I felt a response was in order.

About those five so-called truths. Yes, Dina Sturm works with our assessor Marge Brown. Dina is a long-time employee of the Town of Bethel. She began working there long before her husband was elected. I have worked with our supervisor Dan Sturm for many years. I can say that Dan absolutely stands up for his employees. It is inconceivable to me that in this day and age, any rational person would use a metaphor such as “loaded up his own gun” to describe how an elected official handled a matter of personnel. Such figures of speech should never, I repeat never, be used under any circumstances.

Now, about that threat. The truth is, a threat was indeed made and overheard in a government building. And it was directed at a Town of Bethel employee. Whether it was meant to be taken literally or not is immaterial. Threatening to “blow someone up” is no joke, and the supervisor did indeed witness this threat. Whatever the intent, threatening words were spoken, and words are powerful tools—or sometimes powerful weapons.

Words do matter. They are used to bully people in this country all the time. When a person is in a public building, or writing an e-mail, or writing a letter to a newspaper, they have chosen to put themselves in a public forum. That person should choose their words carefully. When referring to a respected member of our community, not to mention a long-time employee of our town, words like “blow up,” “poison” and “old relic” are hurtful and threatening. They are harsh words used by an individual to hurt another. We do not always need to agree with, or even like every person who works for the town. But threatening them or bullying them is never an option.

I also find it offensive that for the second time in recent weeks, I have heard the hamlet of Kauneonga Lake referred to as a “slum.” This is another very powerful word that conjures up some unpleasant images in the minds of people. The hamlet of Kauneonga Lake has a beautiful, rich history, and it does not deserve to be slandered in this way. A community came together to help restore Kauneonga Lake—people who love and care about the hamlet. I have never heard anyone, until now, refer to it as a “slum.” Again, a person should choose their words carefully when writing in a public forum.