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EDITORIAL: Soapy water and sliding toward anarchy

| February 11, 2024 1:00 AM

What do Jan. 6, Steve Scalise and Todd Banducci have in common?

A line that must never, ever be crossed: violence of any kind replacing even angry debate.

Loss of life and extensive property damage resulted from violence at the Capitol on Jan. 6, 2021. 

Republican U.S. Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana was shot and badly wounded on a Virginia baseball field June 14, 2017. 

While having a bucket of soapy water dumped on him last May 23 might seem insignificant compared to the uprising in D.C. or a member of Congress getting shot, the assault on North Idaho College Trustee Banducci clearly crossed that sacrosanct line. 

Former NIC instructor and Spokane resident Zachary Shallbetter will spend at least three more days in jail and faces further penalties for his actions. Damage was clearly done to Banducci, who says he was evicted from his office space and has suffered other consequences as a result of the attack.

What the three examples cannot adequately express is the most serious damage done through acts of violence: the terror and fear that persist long after the violence is over, and not just to the immediate victims. Acts of violence on those who govern are attacks on us all; they undermine the assurance that in our democratic Republic, we can peaceably disagree and end up better for it.

Personalities and political positions are irrelevant. An act of violence is simply and completely unjustified under any conditions. Trying to excuse or explain away any act of violence is a dangerous step toward anarchy. Without a complete assurance of safety, we cannot govern ourselves effectively.

The alternatives — ferocious criticism, raised and rude voices, even lack of support on personal or business levels — may seem ugly in the extreme, but they are preferable in every instance to violence.

A better approach is civil, well-reasoned discussion and debate.

And the best solution? Settle your differences at the ballot box.