EDITORIAL: Rodeo rage needs roping in

Opinions differ on what constitutes harassment and what is respectful opposition

Pamela Anderson’s recent tweet about the Luxton Pro Rodeo has reopened a passionate debate that seems to gain momentum with each passing year.

Whether or not you agree with Anderson’s view that certain rodeo events, namely calf roping, are cruel to animals, one thing we can all agree on is being cruel to one another doesn’t help anything.

Some local business owners sponsoring the rodeo through advertising in its official program say boycotts are hurting business and causing a nuisance. Others are hurling accusations of harassment and bullying.

From what the Gazette has seen, the correspondence sent by anti-rodeo groups and individuals has been polite but firm. It does not constitute intimidation. These are people with a strong conviction, who want to get their point across, yet seem to know you won’t get anywhere with bullying.

As others have pointed out, this is an issue of free speech and open markets, but that works both ways.

Store owners have the right to support whichever legal events and groups they wish to.

And consumers have every right to choose not to spend money at those businesses if they disagree with what they are supporting, and to respectfully tell them why.

To some, rodeo is an archaic, horrible institution, where animals are intentionally scared and mistreated for entertainment. To others, the Luxton Pro Rodeo is a family friendly, volunteer-run community event and an essential part of the identity of Langford.

It doesn’t matter what side of the debate you’re on, we all need to understand and respect the emotions and passionate beliefs of one another for rational dialogue to happen.

That doesn’t mean you can’t speak up for your opinion or put up with real harassment; there is never a cause for that.

What it does mean is we all work a little harder at understanding and accepting people’s points of view and respecting their right to choose what to support and where to spend their money.

To deny that is to deny a basic right in our capitalist society.

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