Effigy image both disturbing and frightening

Published 11:00 pm Thursday, November 8, 2012

The image making the rounds on social media is disturbing: A scarecrow vaguely resembling President Obama is perched on a front porch, holding a sign referencing an “assassin.”

The photo was taken at a residence near Ozark, and it has prompted a Secret Service investigation into the effigy and the person behind it.

As well it should.

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In the wake of the polarizing and emotional presidential election, we’ve watched as Americans – and Pike Countians – have come to grips with the outcome. Opinions and emotions have been rampant, as it was a hard-fought campaign. Social media has provided an outlet for venting and in some cases, for healing and moving forward.

But this photo that appeared on Thursday? It’s not about moving forward.

It’s easy to assume the message behind this effigy is one of disrespect or hatred or even unabashed bigotry. It’s easy to see the photo and be repulsed, ashamed, even frightened.

And all of those reactions would be appropriate.

Our nation provides for the peaceful sharing of our opinions – and the right to hold differing views and opinions. Our democracy has survived for more than 240 years – even through the strife of civil war and the righting of decades of wrongs through the Civil Rights Movement. To see an image that appears to be blatantly hateful and threatening is beyond disappointing – it is disturbing.

As Americans, we should respect our leaders – agree or disagree with their decisions or political philosophies. And we should respect each other, regardless of our differences.