Proposed ordinance bringing out the worst in us
Among the many great things about this community is the swiftness with which people readily jump to help neighbors. A hand reaching out for help is like a bat signal in the Sublette County skies.
Over the past 15 months there has been no shortage of helping neighbors. Through early onset unknowing of the pandemic, the growing fatigue and then the spike of cases in the summer, we jumped into action whenever possible. Fundraisers were altered and barbecues resembled gatherings of cautious beekeepers.
But we found our way through those times together. And as COVID-19 cases start surging again in the county, we’ll once again need to rely on the quick, empathetic actions of others to get through with as little heartache as possible.
The last few weeks, however, have shown the swift response of neighbors has an ugly side.
There have been contentious issues throughout the Roundup’s coverage of Pinedale Town Council. Believe it or not, none of the recent ones stand out as particularly unique from the arguments made before a council 50 years ago.
But while the arguments may not differ – the actions have.
Our town council has discussed a proposed food vendor ordinance for nearly a month, bringing something seemingly sensible enough through two readings without backlash. The Roundup wrote about both of those meetings, included arguments pertaining to the ordinance both times, and both stories appeared on the front page.
When it came time for a third and final reading, the floodgates opened. People decried the actions of its council as if it were the final suppressive step in a draconian regime, the likes of which are only akin to humanity’s worse rulers. Lighten up.
A special meeting was called to hash out differences. At best, that meeting gauged what the hottest buttons of the issue were. At worst, that gathering only gave an avenue for personal attacks.
Of course, social media has only exacerbated the issue. Community members with viewpoints, opinions and friends on any side of the issue lowered themselves into the muck to directly accuse individuals of heinous actions. An attempted coordinated campaign soon formed to oust a public official in the next election, evidently completely oblivious to the fact that the position in question was not an elected official and could not be voted out. Family members of those involved had their businesses targeted by Facebook campaigns.
All of this boiled over, eventually leading the mayor of Pinedale to issue a public “thank you” to town staff, which works diligently to keep our small community functioning. It was an open letter made necessary because community members who conducted diligent studies at work and reported their findings when requested were accosted by vitriol and anger when they’re at home with their families.
When people resort to behavior like that, no one wins. It merely further divides our community that continues to endure hurdles beyond our control – pandemic, energy and more.
Attacking people from behind a keyboard is not helping anything. A town employee isn’t going to change their presentation because of personal attacks online and a food vendor isn’t going to soften their stance because their family is being harassed online.
Stop it. You’re adults. State your case at meetings in accordance to decorum and address the council, not each other. Don’t shout and don’t talk over people with outbursts. When acknowledged to speak, do so with respect and understanding, not with the entitlement of a spoiled, petulant child.
You won’t always get your way. Grow up. Behave like an adult and set a decent example for Pinedale’s youth. Your community is counting on you.