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Water-dousing incident proves to be eye-opener for protester

Posted: Monday, April 28, 2003

To Mr. Webster:

I am the one who started the demonstrations at the Borough Building, and that same group of people eventually decided to do the nightly protests at the "Y." I want to assure you that we did not intend to pose as a threat to you or your family.

My husband is Active Duty Air Force, and since the beginning of January, he has been on stand-by awaiting deployment. I have not seen my husband since Dec. 3 because of it. He is coming home the first week of May because he has just now been released from having to deploy.

I can't imagine what it must be like to have a son over there, because just knowing that my husband might go at any minute for the last four

months was stressful enough. I sincerely hope your son returns home soon, and safely.

You speak of your rights quite often in your recent letter. You mentioned that you have the right to not listen to a war protester talk to you about Marine casualties. This is correct. You have the right to walk away or ignore it. You do not have the right to attack that protester with a bucket of water.

We, too, have rights. According to the Constitution, I have the right to free speech. I have the right to peaceably assemble. I have the right to speak my mind without fear of being oppressed or physically threatened. On four separate occasions, you have attempted to take that right away from myself and others. You have threatened us as a group twice, you have dumped three buckets of water on us, and you have pride in what you did.

I am offended that you think I burn flags and spit on soldiers. I support our military. I feel secure knowing that their daily existence keeps us safe. I worry about the friends I have from high school who are serving in Iraq. I worried daily about my husband deploying.

What we are doing is not about hating our country, it's about being an American. If we as Americans do not voice our concerns to the government, who will? It is not only our right, it is our duty.

We also did not target your house in our choice of location. We were demonstrating at the "Y" before your story was released in the paper. As you might recall, the story was ran after you dumped water on us the first time. When I learned it was you that has all the ribbons, flags and signs in your yard, I thought of what you said, about how you shouldn't have to drive past us everyday.

From that point on, every day when I drove past your house, I wondered if that gave me the right to attack you, since I had to drive by your residence daily to get to work. Seeing as though you are still dry, I guess you can make the assumption that I understand the concept of right and wrong, and I also understand that by attacking you, I would be a hypocrite.

I am also perplexed by another comment you made. You said that if Eric Rolph practices the same "right" you practiced by dumping water on a friend of yours, he could expect a "different reaction from you." Does that mean you don't like having people attack the right to free speech of those close to you? If that's true, maybe you understand now how our families and friends feel.

My mother, my family, my friends and even my employers have all expressed the same pro-war sentiment that you have. Some have even said they don't agree with what I'm doing. Even though they believe I'm wrong, they are horrified and angered about what you did, as am I. I am revolted by your video. I am angered at your pride. I am frustrated that someone more than twice my age views me as a threat to the point of feeling the need to attack me.

However, we do have some common ground. I agree with you that the media has distorted this story. They are trying to make it look like you singled out older women, and that's unfair to both you and "our side," if that's how you see it.

Your attack was not just on older women. It included myself, a male doctor in this community, a man who works with local school children and a couple of young men that are approximately your son's age. You were not in any way picky about who you took your anger out on.

I am 19. I was born and raised in this community. I was somewhat afraid of voicing what I thought would be a controversial opinion in the beginning, but your actions have only proved that it is necessary for my voice and the voices of others to be heard.

I am grateful to live in a country where both

of us have the right to disagree without fear of government oppression. I just wish I knew what it was like to be free to express my opinion without fear of being attacked. At my age, this experience has certainly been an eye-opener.

I read a wonderful quote the other day that fits this situation well. "You measure democracy by the freedom it gives its dissidents, not the freedom it gives its assimilated conformists."

If I see Eric Rolph around, I'll tell him to put that on his bucket.

Karli Kay (Woltering), Soldotna



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