Our view: Rolling coal is symbol of intolerance | SteamboatToday.com

Our view: Rolling coal is symbol of intolerance

At issue: Two drivers were cited for blasting demonstrators with black exhaust during the “March For Our Lives” protest in Steamboat. Our view: This incident reveals a growing conflict in our community and our country, which only tolerance can remedy. Editorial Board

• Suzanne Schlicht, COO and publisher

• Lisa Schlichtman, editor

• Tom Ross, reporter

Contact the editorial board at 970-871-4221 or editor@SteamboatToday.com.

Stories published last week about the two people who were ticketed for rolling coal on Lincoln Avenue during the “March For Our Lives” demonstration seemed to strike a nerve in the community, sparking hundreds of comments, which if you took the time to read, are emblematic of the deep divide that exists in our country.

Those who gathered on the Routt County Courthouse lawn were there to advocate for school safety and gun control, and those who drove by and rolled coal in protest seemed to be reacting to a perceived threat to their Second Amendment right to bear arms.

First of all, let us be clear. Rolling coal is not appropriate self-expression but rather a form of disrespect. It’s also illegal, and we are glad local law officers are enforcing the state law and fining drivers for the offense.

In our opinion, the basis of the debate that emerged following the demonstration is fear. People on both sides are afraid. There are those who fear the government will take away their guns and others, like our students, who fear their campus will be the scene of the next school shooting.

As a community, it’s important for us to understand the underlying anxiety that this recent conflict seems to reflect and find a way to bridge the divide. It’s OK to have differing opinions but it’s not OK to attack a person just because they believe differently than you.

Instead, we would encourage the residents of Routt County to treat each other with respect, tolerance and understanding.

The Second Amendment gives Americans the right to bear arms and the First Amendment allows for peaceful assembly. Rolling coal in the face of those who were demonstrating showed a lack of tolerance, which we believe is based in fear.

Today, freedom and fear are at war, and when fear is fanned by false rhetoric or divisive public dialogue, we run the risk of creating a society where people are willing to give up their freedoms to allay those fears.

When Americans exercise their freedom to assemble, conflict typically occurs, but in Routt County, we’d like to believe that local people can express their differing views without the situation escalating like it did following the “March For Our Lives” demonstration in downtown Steamboat Springs.

These are definitely turbulent times we live in, but so were the 1960s and ’70s, and rolling coal is mild in comparison to tear gas. As a community, let’s find ways to work beyond our fears, be gracious to our neighbors and respect a diversity of opinions and activities.

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