Keep it civil, folks

Published 8:12 pm Monday, October 17, 2016

Last week, a photo was circulating on social media featuring a woman captured on trail-cam video stealing a political sign out of someone’s yard.

It happens every election cycle. It’s happening right here. Monday, Beaufort County Commissioner Hood Richardson offered a “$300 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of a person or persons removing, defacing, destroying or stealing” his political signs.

Stealing political signs is against the law. It’s theft, plain and simple. It also goes against the democratic process: the freedom for anyone to support a candidate and let neighbors know a political preference.

Sunday, GOP headquarters in Hillsborough was set on fire by someone who threw an incendiary device through the building’s window. No one was hurt, but the Republican office was destroyed and a threatening message was left scrawled on another building nearby. Vandalism is illegal. Arson is also illegal. In fact, arson is a felony and could carry quite a hefty prison sentence.

Whatever party a person belongs to, and how strong the political beliefs, defacing personal property, destroying property, enacting violence in word or deed, is not helpful in serving up a positive message to the community. In fact, the message’s intent actually causes more damage to the perpetrator — more correctly, to the perpetrator’s party or candidate of choice.

No matter how one personally feels about a candidate, everyone has a right to express his approval one way or the other. Every voter has a right to be secure that personal property won’t be stolen or destroyed simply out of spite. Even if a person stealing or destroying signs is viewing those actions as a prank, it’s a prank of the basest kind, and not the least bit funny.

For the next three weeks, keep it civil, folks. Just keep it civil.