Sunday, December 07, 2003

The Attack on Citizen Participation in Civic Life - Yubanet article excerpt

From the Jan 7, 2003 Yubanet article, Property Rights Politics In Nevada County, CA:
The Attack on Citizen Participation in Civic Life

Starting in the spring of 2002, local property rights activists have come under fire in statewide media for publishing information of a private nature about private citizens in direct mail campaigns and websites, including homes addresses and photos of their properties. Citizens targeted in these mailings had endorsed Smart Growth 4th District candidate Izzy Martin.

Although this kind of intimidation can cause many citizens to drop out of civic life, others are defending themselves by filing police reports and harassment charges to protect their privacy and right to participate in community affairs without having to pay a personal price.

Other recent examples of harassment in Nevada County include: In October 2002, a Rough & Ready resident filed a police report after an eviscerated cat was left on her porch, the day after she participated in a local radio call-in show with candidates. Two weeks earlier, a candidate running in the 4th District race, filed a police report after someone had driven nails into the inside walls of his back tires while he was participating in a debate.

Intimidation tactics are hardly unique to Nevada County, as other rural communities around the country have had to deal with their own groups that engage in reckless, anti-government rhetoric that divides the community, whips people into an emotional frenzy and can encourage fragile people to go over the edge and commit acts of violence. Fortunately, citizens in Nevada County are banding together to insist on civility in public discourse while condemning acts of intimidation.

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