As you know, as publisher I rarely weigh in on the topics we cover. We report on what is happening in our community. We report the facts so our readers can form their own opinions.

Today is a rare exception, but an important one.

Based on what I see day-to-day on the Lee’s Summit Tribune Facebook page, recent public debates are dominated by “keyboard warriors” who spout their version of the facts or have some agenda. When I challenge them and ask them to back up their statements with fact, they cannot. When some “warriors” trash local institutions like firefighters, police and the school district, I ask for decorum or fact-based comments.

I sometimes offer elected officials advice on how to handle being attacked on social media. The advice I give them is simple: imagine that your keyboard has Duct tape over it. I’m beginning to believe that it’s no longer elected officials who need this advice. Our citizens need this advice as well.

Lee’s Summit Mayor Bill Baird briefly addressed the issue of public debate on social media during his keynote address at the city’s Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration. He said, “In the age of social media, the art of coded language rules. The local issues we face currently are not vetted thoroughly on social media. Social media is rampant with coded language and no accountability for the words chosen, and words, my friends, are a big, big deal.”

Last week, I published excerpts from that address because he said what needed to be said: we need more voices engaging in the issues affecting our city and our school district, but the voices need to be engaged for good. He is concerned about the tone and potential negative outcomes on the city and school district as am I.

Yes, we have voices. Yes, you have the right to be heard as do those you disagree with. And, yes you should also refrain from attacking others. Express your opinion and agree to disagree. If we treat each other with respect and love, Lee’s Summit will be the place that is Yours Truly.

I know so many of you, your families and your love of our community. Let your love shine through, and we will all benefit.

Linda Ahern
Lee’s Summit, MO