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OPINION: Courage in the face of doxxing

by EVAN KOCH/More Perfect Union
| March 1, 2023 1:00 AM

There is a line between political activism and immoral or criminal behavior. For years, some on the far right of Idaho’s political spectrum have stepped right up to that line and spit right over it.

Rep. Priscilla Giddings republished the name and personal information of a woman raped by Rep. Aaron von Ehlinger. Ammon Bundy published lie-laced fliers with photos and the personal information of people involved in a child custody case, including judges, legislators and health care workers. The examples go on.

Kootenai County is not exempt from this sort of inflammatory, frightening and anti-democratic intimidation.

On Saturday, the Kootenai Democrats held the Hijacking Democracy Symposium. A packed room at the Templin’s Resort heard informed opinions from various community leaders about threats to democracy nationally, and to North Idaho College in particular.

Following that event, personal information of at least three panelists was shared on social media by people who twisted and disagreed with their words. One panelist had their home address published on social media.

Democrats do not shy away from political activism. But we won’t doxx anyone. The home addresses of our political opponents are off limits. Period.

Rather, Democrats call on everyone to work together in powerful, bipartisan ways to build a better Kootenai County.

Our symposium panelists and participants courageously did their part to further that mission. They all understood that threats and intimidation were a possibility, and they stood up anyway. A common goal emerged to lessen extremism and help North Idaho College keep its accreditation.

We didn’t all agree, and there was healthy back and forth. But that’s how productive political speech is supposed to work. We were empowered to have better, more productive conversations both with business leaders and politicians.

We entered with a shared sense of motivation to increase political involvement across (traditional) party lines. This motivation stemmed from our shared outrage over efforts to prohibit voters from qualifying citizen-led ballot initiatives, restricting college student IDs for the purpose of voting, and most significantly losing North Idaho College.

We left the symposium with a greater commitment to petitioning our elected representatives and business leaders to secure ballot access, protect voting rights, and most of all to save North Idaho College. This symposium’s message resonated with people all across our region.

And the crowd wanted to do it again, albeit with greater security for our panelists.

At one point, we reflected on the examples of activists such as Martin Luther King Jr. and Gandhi. These icons of courage peacefully boycotted businesses and their quiet actions spoke louder than any violence could have. That same level of courage is needed in Kootenai County today.

Cowardice is sitting behind a computer and publishing the names, addresses and personal information of people you disagree with. Courage is participating in a panel discussion on democracy, knowing full well that your opponents can twist your words and threaten your peace.

Courage is a North Idaho College student speaking truth to power. Courage is NIC staff and faculty members staring down workplace intimidation and still passing votes of no confidence in the board of trustees.

Democrats stand with these courageous people to protect our democracy and North Idaho College.

Together we will build a more perfect union.

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Evan Koch is chairman of the Kootenai County Democrats.