Courage to do the right thing


To the Editor:


“Belain says he is ‘embarrassed’ after night of drinking.” I want to congratulate The Times for having the courage to publish what was obviously going to be a wildly unpopular and divisive subject, this being the loss of trust in our public officials. That innocent citizens of Tisbury could be so victimized by their own public officials is appalling. The possible trauma of such events in one’s living room at 3 am, and the ensuing cover-up, opens up the public purse to an incredible liability from lawsuits.

The backlash The Times has had to face in the community for its courageous decision to expose these actions of an otherwise popular public official, is breathtaking. Clearly, accountability is waived for some, but not for others. This is not a privilege a small community can invoke at its whim without cost. I believe it has split the Island community and irreparably damaged the public trust in an already failing Tisbury police force. Wouldn’t it be nice if those same public officials stepped forward to do the right thing rather than dump on anyone who exposes such corruption?

Nearly 47 years ago to the day, the editor of the Beacon Press made an unprecedented decision to stand up to the entire U.S. government and announce its decision to publish the Pentagon Papers, calling it “a moral obligation.” We may be slightly lower in stature here, dealing with an “embarrassing” night four months ago, but the same bedrock principles apply; the public has a right to know, no matter how unpleasant the details may be of these public records.  

Thank you for not selling out your principles to intimidation and unpopularity.


James Kozak

Vineyard Haven


  1. Mr. Kozak is correct in that the public has the right to know of such activity as reported. and I do not take issue with him in that regard. What I do not like is the anonymous condemnation of Chief Belain from internet snipers who have not established their credentials.

  2. Hanley, you don’t have to like it but it doesn’t make their message any less valid or worthy of examination. The truth is not the exclusive preserve of those who “have established their credentials”. The Homeland Security Service in their “if you see something, say something “ campaign doesn’t wait for “credentials” to combat terrorism. Newspapers like the MV Times have a moral obligation to its readers to respond to all information, anonymous or otherwise. You are allowed a secret ballot!!!
    The derogatory name calling towards anonymous sources will just insure any future police corruption will stay concealed, for fear of retribution. Condemnation of our public officials, anonymous or otherwise, is constitutionally protected.

    • James – You have completely misunderstood my post. I agree with you that the facts of a matter should be published so people can make informed judgments. The derogatory name calling of which I spoke is coming FROM anonymous “sources”, almost always before the facts are known.

  3. The case of Deep Throat, within the Watergate scandal provides a perfect case study. You the reader have a right to verified facts, not “established credentials “ of those who provide those facts. Not a single fact the MV Times has presented in this whole scandal is in dispute, by either side. I would say that is responsible journalism to which they should be given recognition.

  4. Blaming the newspaper for reporting facts is a deflection. And it is alarming to see it so rampant in our community. Objecting to the anonymity of comments that do not enable drunken behavior and the corrupt cover-up is also a deflection. Someone, a chief of police, did not stop drinking when he should have. That is why we are having this discussion. Mr Clifford’s objection to the anonymity of comments is not just off-topic. It takes away from the alarming aspect of how most people in this alcohol-dependent community enable, excuse, and minimize drunkenness. Failing to notice that the majority of comments, anonymous or not, enable, excuse, minimize, brush off and blame the friends/taxi driver/newspaper is as disturbing as this story. The majority of comments, both at the Times and on social media, are “enabling”. It is not a matter of what one dislikes about anonymity. It is however a matter of alarm that so many Islanders think that the chief’s behavior is a normal part of life for any adult, that it could just happen to anyone, and that it should be overlooked and excused as the TPD have attempted to do. This drunken behavior does not ever happen to adults who drink responsibly. It happens to people who do not, be it once or once a year. If anyone ever wonders why the rate of alcohol and drug abuse is so high on the island, just read the comments that excuse this kind of excess and corrupt cover-up as normal. It is not normal! The take-away here, for kids who are watching how adults respond to this particular situation, should be the condemnation of getting drunk as a means to celebrate anything. The failure to own up to bad behavior, no matter who you are or what position you hold, and to enjoin “helpers” to hide irresponsible misdeeds, is the worst possible lesson for children to witness. The only hero to look up to in this story, so far, is the MV Times.

      • I would agree that attaching your full name to a stongly held opinion gives that opinion more impact. However, to call anonymous comments “worthless” is misguided and irrelevant to the discussion. Black or white thinking like yours is self-defeating. An inability to understand why some folks choose to remain anonymous within this small community says something about you, not anyone else. The Times understands the importance of all voices heard, anonymous or not, and they vet every single comment before it is posted, including every one of yours posted on a myriad of subjects. Slander/libel is never allowed here. I will add only that those, like you, who frequently post their opinion on virtually all major stories, have much less import than any anonymous comments that are written with passion on one or two subjects. It’s my opinon that people who spend their days writing their opinions on every subject under the sun, simply like to hear themselves talk. But you are entitled to do that here.

  5. For the record, condemnation of our public officials is indeed constitutionally protected, anonymous or otherwise – as is contempt for such anonymous sources.

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