standing Letters

Dear Santa, could you please bring Sen. Elaine Morgan a dictionary for Christmas?

I am appalled that Sen. Morgan, an elected official, posted on her private Facebook page calling for people to boycott Amigos. After seeing pictures of the staff at Amigos wearing “86 45” tee shirts, meaning “Impeach Trump,” she chose to believe that owner Wendy Carr was calling for the murder of Trump. Really? The average person would have picked up the phone, or emailed, or walked into the restaurant to have a conversation with Carr if they were so concerned about the meaning behind the T-shirts. Even before taking that action, the average person would have simply picked up a dictionary or googled the meaning of “86.”

Carr is a small business owner who is very involved in and supportive of the Westerly community. Now as a result of Morgan’s impetuous posting, she is receiving harassing phone calls, emails, and posts on social media, including death threats to her and her staff. She has had to change her business phone and to disconnect her email contact page. People who have never been to her restaurant are leaving terrible reviews on review websites.

As a small business owner herself, Morgan should be able to empathize with the hardship that Carr is suffering thanks to Morgan’s irresponsible action. Yet as of this writing, Morgan has only doubled down on insisting she is in the right and has done nothing to my knowledge to call off those who are harassing Carr and her staff.

As a private citizen, Carr has the right to run her business and to exercise freedom of expression any way she wants. Those who disagree with her views are free not to frequent her restaurant, but they are not free to harass and threaten. In her original post, Morgan claimed to be a “huge supporter of our 1st Amendment,” yet she seeks to quash freedom of expression for anyone who disagrees with her views. Calling for boycotts of small business owners (when you purport to encourage small business) is hardly the way to demonstrate that you are a “huge supporter of the 1st Amendment.”

It is likely that Morgan did not intend the firestorm of hatred that was set off by her post, but she is now well aware of the consequences of her misinterpretation of “86.” For a state legislator to initiate and encourage a boycott against a private citizen and then stand idly by as her target is attacked is reprehensible. Sen. Morgan has demonstrated behavior unbecoming of anyone in public office. She needs to publicly apologize to Carr, and to insist that the harassment cease.

Kristen Chambers

Wood River Junction

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