We’re better than this.
We live in an atmosphere of opinion and division; from around the world and our country to individually here in Switzerland County.
Over the past month we’ve seen images through the media of protests that became violent; of marches that became riots; of demonstrations that became mobs.
We’ve sat back and watched in all; with many expressing their opinions and thoughts through social media. There’s been plenty of blame to throw around: from mainstream media to the extreme left to the extreme right and groups in between.
Black lives matter.
Blue lives matter.
For most of it, as a community we’ve been insulated from it while we observe it.
Last Thursday night, someone or some group decided that they needed to express themselves by throwing eggs at the headquarters of the Switzerland County Republican Party on Main Street in Vevay.
Two days later, the same building was subjected to painted graffiti on its walls.
The matter is currently under investigation by the Vevay Police Department.
When I first moved here in May of 1984, I remember feeling that the community as a whole had a rather low opinion of itself. Self esteem wasn’t too readily seen. I recall being at a County Commissioners meeting when one of the officials told me, jokingly, that the county motto was, “Indiana doesn’t want us, and Kentucky won’t take us.”
It was rather funny, but it was an attitude that many people began to live here. No one paid any attention to us. No one really valued our opinions. Life went on in our area, our state, and our nation regardless of the thoughts of Switzerland County residents.
But what came out of that was a feeling of self-reliance and self-assurance by the people who lived here. We didn’t need outside help — we were strong enough to make ourselves matter and relevant through our own hard work. Around the town and around the county, people began to step forward and work together to beautify areas of our county; to make representation stronger; to hear the voices of those who for so long felt that no one was listening.
I am proud of the community and the county in which I live and chose to raise my children in. There is no place better.
But what happened last week is unacceptable.
We for years have been a community that has had differing opinions; but we’ve always had the ability to share those opinions, agree to disagree in some matters, and continue to move the county forward.
We had a community that could disagree without being disagreeable.
Now, you may blame social media; you may blame culture; you may blame young adults for sharing new views or old adults for holding on to old views — but we are Switzerland County residents, and we cannot allow and should not tolerate the destruction or desecration of structures here simply because we oppose what we perceive to be the views of the group or business that occupies the interior of that structure.
I am ashamed that something like this could happen here — but in today’s climate I guess I shouldn’t be surprised.
My mentor in the newspaper business, Don Wallis, Jr., former owner of this paper, had a hard and fast rule that I continue to stand by today: we would not print a letter to the editor without the writer agreeing to have their name printed as well. Why? Because we believed then and still believe today that we should be able to express our opinions without fear of others abusing us for it — and others should be able to share similar or differing viewpoints in subsequent papers with that same confidence.
As a community, we should all understand the value of discussion and education and differing points of view without it all turning into some social dumpster fire.
You want to express your thoughts? You have plenty of avenues without resorting to writing them on the side of a building and its sidewalk.
You want to make sure you’re heard? You don’t have to throw eggs to make a point. That’s why you have a voice — and a brain.
What happened last week can’t happen here again; and the person or persons who did it should be found, prosecuted, and suffer the consequences.
If you have information, please contact the Vevay Police Department at (812) 427-3737.
We simply aren’t going to tolerate situations of vandalism or violence.
We’re better than this.
— Patrick Lanman, publisher
Vevay Media Group