What happens if Utahns keep harassing one another, Editorial Board asks

A sign left in the yard of a Salt Lake Tribune reporter in October 2022.

Four years ago this week, Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi was assassinated by agents of the Saudi government. Khashoggi was ambushed and strangled by a 15-member squad of assassins and his body was dismembered.

Last month, Las Vegas Review Journal reporter Jeff German was stabbed to death outside his home. Police arrested Clark County Public Administrator Robert Telles on suspicion of killing German, after German wrote negative stories about Telles.

Last weekend, members of Congress in both parties said they are experiencing a surge in threats and confrontations as violent political speech is increasingly crossing into in-person intimidation.

Here in Utah, reporter Bryan Schott found a disturbing sign planted in his yard over the weekend. Its placement followed a string of stories Bryan wrote about disparaging comments multiple candidates running for office next month made on social platforms.

We also recently learned about an alleged road rage incident involving U.S. Senate candidate Evan McMullin, who along with his wife was threatened with a gun following a campaign event.

There is no end to the examples — both here in Utah and across the country — that we could draw on.

We are doing more than calling each other names or seeking to intimidate. We’re killing — or threatening to kill — one another.

And we are destroying any shot we’ve got at solving Utah’s complex problems.

The cost of living here has grown to the extent that it is unsustainable for many Utahns. We don’t have enough homes nor enough water to accommodate the current and future needs of our state. Our public schools are still reeling from COVID and teachers and paraprofessionals are increasingly becoming burned out due to the many demands being placed upon them. This is to name just a few.

We have some real challenges ahead of us. We need all of us to hammer it out.

On Monday, around 75 people attended a candidates’ forum for Salt Lake County voters at Highland High. It was also live streamed, and to be fair we don’t know how many watched online. The turnout was disappointing, even if just for one event.

The American Experiment, government of, for, and by the people, requires active participation by all of us, not just those who feel most strongly on any one issue.

It’s hard. We’ve got a lot going on, with carpools and dinners and appointments and work. But if our democratic republic is to work, we’ve got to be engaged in the process.

Over the last few weeks this community has mourned the loss of a busy man who made the time, Valter Nassi. He was an immigrant who built bridges. His restaurant, Valter’s Osteria, is a place where lots of people from different backgrounds and with different perspectives can come together to share a meal. He made the time to make you feel welcomed.

Being in community is a choice we can make, every day. What community will you choose?