Letter to the editor: Michael Hurley

Four decades in Belfast, and never seen such incivility

Thu, 07/11/2019 - 11:45am

On civil discourse. I had visitors from Manchester, England, a few days ago and they gave me a hat with a cool logo on it — a beautiful worker bee. Manchester, England, endured a terrorist bombing at an Ariana Grande concert that killed 22 and injured more than 800 people. One of the responses in the aftermath was to stand together much like Boston did after the marathon bombing "Boston Strong."

Manchester had long had the worker bee symbol for their hard working city but they came together after the bombing under "Stronger Together.”  It made me think about my home and how these days we are weaker and not together.

Lately, I have heard people who are opposed to the fish farm decry the "lack of civility" and the lack of "civil discourse."

I agree with them.

As a Belfast city councilor who has made it clear I support the fish farm proposal because I do not believe it will harm the bay and that we have more than enough water it has meant I've been witness to a lot of incivility.

I've had my head pasted onto a dog meme to indicate I am Nordic's poodle.

I've had long time acquaintances turn their back and never speak to me again.

I've had my chest pounded on.

I've been called out in public, in letters, on Facebook, everything from lying, stupid to corrupt to criminal to on the take.

I've been told I want to make Belfast into a hell hole, to kill the bay, into New Jersey, to make people leave Belfast.

Really it's been hard to keep track of all the accusations and incivility thrown at Nordic Aquaculture, the city of Belfast staff and elected officials, and supporters.

Being asked: "What is the price of one dead child? What is the child's name?" was a high point.

Seeing a good Belfast citizen have his parked tractor vandalized was terrible.

Having Nordic reps attacked by a xenophobe was disgraceful.

And then, one opposition leader characterized this stuff to her fellow opponents, "you're not being helpful." I guess that's one way of saying it.

I don't know how to make passionate people more civil or if they're even interested in being civil as I've been told by numerous people "we will do whatever it takes to stop this project." Whatever covers a lot of ground.

As far as I can tell nearly all of the incivility has been coming from the opponents. And if anyone defends themselves in any way when attacked they are then being "uncivil."

I know we are theoretically "stronger together" but what I feel is that the deeply passionate uncivil opposition has poisoned our town.

Now, they'll say: "the fish farm being welcomed has poisoned Belfast."

I don't agree.

We can always disagree in Belfast. I've been in four decades of pitched political battles and I've never seen the kind of incivility that the opposition has mounted.

Why is that?

I don't know.

Maybe it was eight years of LePage and now Trump but there's an irrational anger in play.

Anyone who wants to speak with me I am always available. I believe we are stronger together. I'd like to give it a try. Call me any time 338-1975 or 323-0881


Michael D. Hurley

171 High Street

Suite Two

Belfast ME 04915

207-338-1975 P

207-338-2951 Fax

207-323-0881 Cell