Letter to the Editor:

This is an open letter to all elected officials and both political parties in Sussex County:

I call upon all elected officials in Sussex County – Senator Oroho, Assemblymen Wirths and Space, the Freeholders, Sheriff Strada, and all elected municipal officials –AND both county political organizations to denounce, clearly and definitively, all racial and religious hate speech.  The racially motivated mass shootings of the past week should be a catalyst for all of us to understand finally that hate speech is not free speech – it is extremely costly in lives, in community and in our democratic principles.

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Last Fall, when anti-Semitic hate-filled messages were scrawled on a home and business in Sussex County, some of our elected officials joined with the community in an anti-hate rally at SCCC.  It is time for us to come together once again to reiterate that racial and religious hate will not be tolerated in Sussex County. This time, I call on ALL of our elected officials to participate with the leaders of both political parties in declaring hate speech unacceptable and not tolerated in this County that we all work so hard to keep beautiful, prosperous and welcoming.

I have worked with Jerry Scanlan for more than eight years on the SCCC Board of Trustees and I know Jerry is not a hater.  BUT, we cannot tolerate mindless repeating of hate-filled rants and images publicly or privately on social media, printed fliers or in-person speech – no matter where they originate.  Nor can we tolerate such rants or images that may originate here in Sussex County.

In this political season, we can and should discuss and debate the issues with all the passion of the founders of our great country, but we MUST refrain from the kind of hate-filled rhetoric that inspired and motivated the young men who murdered so many innocent people in California and Texas – we don’t know yet what motivated the Ohio shootings -- but we can no longer deny that the volatile language and images often generated in the political arena and circulating on social media contribute to these events.  The shooters themselves have told us so.

We may not be able to control what originates outside Sussex County, but we can and MUST declare that the hate stops here.

With great love and appreciation for Sussex County,   

Lorraine C. Parker

Sparta NJ