Cowardly letter writer chills civic discourse

Shame on the person who’s writing threatening letters to
supporters of a ban on so-called safe and sane fireworks in
Gilroy.
Shame on the person who’s writing threatening letters to supporters of a ban on so-called safe and sane fireworks in Gilroy.

The letters, which contain the words, “Next year, I hope your house burns down with you in it,” as well as derogatory and foul language, have, understandably, frightened and intimidated their recipients.

We have to wonder about the emotional stability and mental capacity of someone who would use such threatening language to his or her opponents in an civic debate. And the letter writer in all likelihood completely misses the irony in using his or her freedom of speech and his worries about losing his or her freedom to use fireworks to stifle the freedoms of others.

We urge Gilroy police – regardless of whether or not the District Attorney says the letters cross any legal lines – to investigate these malicious letters to identify the letter writer. And, since the mail was used, to pass along information to the FBI. Even if the author can’t be prosecuted for making a credible, immediate threat, the victims have a right to know who anonymously penned the ghastly – and cowardly – letters.

Knowledge is power, especially in this case. With an identification of the letter writer, the victims could seek a restraining order against the author. Besides placing the letter writer on notice to leave the victims alone, a restraining order would have the secondary benefit of placing the author in the public eye, something he or she apparently doesn’t want, given the chicken-hearted anonymity in which the letters were sent.

These letters have had an impact on the entire community – they’ve had a chilling effect on participation in an important debate for all Gilroyans. If anyone else has received a similar threatening letter after advocating a ban of safe and sane fireworks, we urge them to contact the Gilroy Police Department immediately. If anyone has information that would help police identify the letter writer, they should do the same.

These letters are the work of a person who is at least uncivilized and may well be in the grip of a demented, unbalanced anger. We need to identify the author, because in this case, an ounce of prevention is likely to be worth much more than a pound of cure.

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