The Rise of Hate Speech in Kitsap County

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, along with many other places, Kitsap County has seen a large rise in hate speech.

by Aidyn Pacl, Reporter

Today in the United States, under the first amendment, all speech, including hate speech, is protected. Because of this you can easily find instances of hate speech all across the U.S., including in Kitsap County.

One of the signs bolted onto a telephone pole on NW Mountain View Road, near Bangor Base.

On Sept. 26 many local news outlets reported on an instance of hate symbols being posted across Kitsap. On many signs, telephone polls, and trees there were signs with swastikas bolted on. Under the symbol the signs had the text, “LOSING PATIENCE” seemingly echoing the words of President Joe Biden.

These signs were strewn all over the county in Silverdale, Poulsbo, Bremerton, Port Orchard, and many other smaller towns. On the tips of each point on the symbol there were needles which seemed to represent vaccines.

This symbol being used is not a new thing though. Among many anti-vax and anti-mask protests the same symbol has also been used.

The history of the swastika is a dark one if anything. According to the Holocaust Encyclopedia The swastika was originally a symbol used by Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. The symbol represented divinity and spirituality. In the Western areas of the world it was even seen as good luck until the 1930s when it was stolen and incorporated by the Nazis.

An anti-vax and anti-lockdown protest that took place in August by The Doctors Clinic and St. Michael Medical Center in Silverdale.

When this symbol is tilted 45 degrees, like what was seen on these signs, it becomes what nearly everyone in the Western world today associates with Nazism. The signs were not using the swastika to represent good luck, rather they were using it to equate vaccine mandates to fascism or Nazism.

Because vaccines have been subject to lots of misinformation all around the country it is important that the truth is reported. According to the Washington State Department of Heath 72.5% of people 12 and older in WA are fully vaccinated. Out of these people there has only been one reported death caused by a vaccination. This makes COVID-19 in Washington State almost 60 thousand times deadlier than the vaccine.

The Cougar Chronicle set up a Google Form for Kitsap residents to give their opinion on how they believe hate speech has affected Kitsap County, and posted it on Instagram. All responses were anonymous.

“Hate speech is a huge issue in Kitsap County,” an anonymous respondent said. “Whether it’s hateful signs or symbols plastered around our cities, neighbors spewing slurs, or censorship of more ‘progressive’ ideals in schools, hate speech is everywhere, and our school administrators are not doing enough to protect us students. As a queer person myself, seeing signs such as the one that was removed from Cougar Valley Elementary at a young age would have been extremely beneficial. My heart hurts for the queer kids at Cougar Valley who are being told that their mere existence as a non straight and/or cis person is ‘inappropriate’ in their classrooms.”

Even in the year 2021 hate speech still seems to find a way to creep into everyday life.