"Anonymous writing is an effective and societally beneficial form of dissent when a culture of fear pervades a society" writes the host - reportedly Ed Kilduff of Lopez Island - of a local blog. This culture of fear is so invasive in the county it is dangerous for the people commenting on his site to use their names.
The vitriolic, libelous catalog of cowardice on his site illustrates the level of accuracy and informed discourse achieved with anonymous commentary. The personal attacks, lies stated as facts do nothing but undermine the fabric of our community.
The signers of the Declaration of Independence put their lives and their signatures on the line. A 15-year-old girl, Malala Yousafzai, had the courage to speak out against the Taliban. And we are to believe, in San Juan County in the 21st century in the United States of America people are in danger if they own up to their opinions.
So what is the evidence. Writers on the blog say, people who speak out will find their property rights attacked by people filing complaints against them. The site points to Errol Speed, Charles Dalton, Nick Jones as examples. No nexus between complaints and any comments are supplied.
In these cases property rights apparently means - for Dalton - the abiliity to build a single-family residence without permits and violate state wetland regulations. In the case of Jones, the ability to sell food to the public in a structure which violated building and safety codes. And for Speed the ability to (allegedly-the case is in court) live in and not pay property taxes on a single-family residence built without permits.
Or another one of their examples - Helen King's bed and breakfast. It is on a private road. Other residents opposed it. The conditional use permit (CUP) was issued with the caveat it would be void when she sold the property.
Fifteen years later, she decided she wants to ignore what she signed. She wants to sell the property with the CUP. Kilduff's blog spins the story as the case of a poor elderly woman who cannot sell her home because of the onerous government regulations which took away her property rights.
Apparently property rights as defined by the blog, don't extend to the others on Hannah Heights road. The property owners who have put up with King's business for 15 years and expect the rules to be followed don't factor into the equation.
And apparently the rights of all county property owners who have to pay more when others avoid paying their share by lying to the assessor - apparently their rights don't count either.
If you believe, the islands are a place where fear is rampant, opinions are dangerous and government is out to get us, at least you have a place to air your views. Kilduff's blog has plenty of space.
The rest of us, who deal in facts, who believe this is a free nation and not a fascist state, who have the courage of our beliefs - we'll continue to act accordingly as responsible adult members of this community. And we'll do our best to clean up the messes created by the rock-throwers.
NOTE: this article was changed to correct two errors. Referring to Helen King's B&B. It incorrectly stated the B&B wasn't allowed in the land use designation when she started it. It was with the issuance of the CUP. Her CUP expires on the sale of the property. The second change was replacing violated building and health and safety codes" with "violated building and safety codes " in the Nick Jones reference.