In light of a reposting of disturbing material to social media and how its impacted our community, I feel motivated by my sense of social responsibility to address the issue.
I know Laconia to be a welcoming, inclusive and vibrant community. It’s a great place to live, work and raise a family. Our community though, is not insulated or immune from some of the ugly discourse that permeates our country. As an elected office holder, I feel a responsibility to encourage discourse and remain vigilant in advocating for civility. I believe our community must remain acutely aware of the fine line between our Constitutional right to free expression AND speech that uses race, religion, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender able-bodiedness or socio-economic status to incite.
I value public debate about politics and policy, even when there’s sharp disagreement, as an essential element to a healthy democracy and a vibrant community.
But, posting or reposting on social media content that espouses or amplifies racist and anti-Semitic content crosses that fine line. Racism and anti-Semitism in all its forms is abhorrent and an affront to our shared community values. Indifference to these challenges will strain what binds us together as a community.
Laconia is and I hope known as –
- A community where everyone, regardless of race, creed, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, able-bodiedness, age or socio-economic status is welcomed and treated with fairness, kindness and respect:
- A community opposed to any words or actions that undermine the dignity of any person.
This is not a partisan political issue and I hope we, as a community, take on the challenge to create a better dialogue around issues of race, anti-Semitism and general prejudice.
In the coming weeks I will look to our community to begin the process of creating a public dialogue, identifying issues that may divide us and finding ways to bridge this divide. I hope Laconia will continue to be a community that prioritizes efforts to further educate ourselves and our children about the dehumanizing effects of prejudice. I appreciate and value that we are a community of different opinions and perspectives. I also appreciate and value that we can disagree without being disagreeable.
I have no doubt we can rise to the challenge and strengthen the bonds that make our Laconia special. This is our community and we are all in this together.
Mayor Andrew Hosmer