Stop The Stink Signs Gone Missing

When our family arrived home last week from a Christmas vacation, we discovered that the “stop-the-stink” sign in our yard was missing. Apparently ours was not the only one to have disappeared. Other residents have complained that almost all the signs on Arthur St. and William St. were stolen. I will be the first to agree with the opponents of the signs that they are not attractive. However, the fact that they have been up so long is not our fault. The provincial Ministry of the Environment and Bio-En are still negotiating the feasibility of the plant. With those temporary signs we announce that we are worried about a permanent despoilment of our community. That sign was our property on our private space; it expressed our right to have an opinion on what is a public matter. The signs indicate the solidarity of residents concerning that opinion.

However unsightly they may be, the signs serve a purpose that is extremely important. Whoever removed them has disregarded our civic liberties. This act of vandalism is illegal, and possibly a cowardly, undemocratic, and intimidating abuse of our property rights and threat to our freedom of speech.

I say “possibly” because maybe this second attack on the signs (the first was on Church St.), was an offense perpetrated by kids, who may have no understanding of the significance of the erection of the signs in the first place. One would like to think that parents educate their children about such serious matters as trespassing and theft. However, there is the possibility that if children are responsible for this crime, they may have been encouraged or at least condoned by their parents, who may not share the same views as the members of the Bio-En Citizens Response Group. If that were the case, the act is shamefully cowardly, to say nothing of morally corruptive.

If adults took the signs, the offenders have denied us the right to express our political views. The signs are not hate literature; they are just a statement of our objection to having noise, odours, increased traffic, and possible accidents that may well be associated with the installation of a bio-gas facility.

Overriding our right to display the signs belittles the democracy we enjoy in Canada. It intimidates others who might agree with us and who fear the invasion of their own property. As well, it menaces political honesty, especially in a small town.

Someone suggested that, given the timing of this sabotage, there may have been the desire to wreak vengeance on those who voted for the recently elected members of Council, who were perhaps seen as more open to criticism of the Bio-En project. Personally, I hope this overstates the case, because that sort of thing is anathema to most of us. Simply stated, the act was wrong. Whoever stole the signs should own up to it and apologize. This action was despicable. We also want to be reimbursed for them, because we are going to put up more.

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