Why do Kitsappers insist on controversy?

One of the major differences between my South Kitsap friends and my Seattle friends (and I’ve lived in both places) is that almost all of the Kitsappers have been to Seattle, either for a baseball game, shopping, or a dining experience they felt they weren’t having closer to home.

So the Kitsappers in my corner feel as if they understand, even if they don’t like, the city.

But my city friends, many of whom have never been anywhere across the water (unless you count Bainbridge Island) despite living in the Big Smoke for years, are more curious because they are locationally more ignorant.

What do you do over there?

Is there any good (they mean ethnic or vegan usually) food over there?

Are all the people white?

Are they all overweight?

Can they read?

I always have fun disabusing the allegedly sophisticated urbanites of some of their dyed-in-the-wool prejudices.

I tell them there’s plenty of good eating available. Tony’s, for example, is for my money better pizza than anything I’ve had in Seattle. Thai Taste in Port Orchard is fine, too. There are plenty of other places, but I’m just talking about my own favorites.

I tell them the military has lived in Kitsap County for years and that some (not all) parts of the county are more integrated than many parts of Seattle.

I say that obesity is a problem in Kitsap but that it is a growing (so to speak) problem all over the United States.

And as for reading, I explain to my Newsweek-reading, CNN-watching friends that my stuff tends to be more closely read in Port Orchard than Seattle, if letters to the editor are considered a way to judge.

But since I’m trying to be positive and drum up a little business for Kitsap merchants, there is one thing about Kitsappers I don’t mention.

The quality I leave unexpressed is the Kitsappers urge to fight amongst themselves like some demented 19th-century backwoods family.

Now, I’ll be honest.

If Kitsap had a new raceway and a new gun club, you’d only see me on the firing range.

Although I have long been an advocate for gun registration and stricter penalties for the misuse of weaponry, I have never been an out-and-out gun control person because I love guns.

I qualified marksman with the M-16 as a young draftee soldier. I also qualified as a marksman with the .45-sidearms they tested you with back in those dark (technologically speaking) ages.

Although I would never join the NRA, because they get their politics into the whole shooting match, I always take advantage of any chance to go shooting — at targets. I haven’t shot at a living creature in 30 years, for reasons of my own.

But if I wait to go shooting at the oft-proposed South Kitsap gun club, I’ll probably need a seeing-eye dog to go with me.


Because people on this side of the water turn everything into politics. After years in court to get permission to build the range, the site selected turned out to be under water. Now, because of political infighting, the search is once again on to find a place where you can invite me out to fill up a few bullseyes.

I drove fast as a teenager, had seven wrecks in the five years between getting my license and getting drafted to serve Uncle Sam.

I was cited for six of those seven accidents and was on the verge of losing my license when Uncle took me from behind the wheel.

Let me say that in the 30 years since I served without distinction or dishonor, I have driven safely, racking up only one fender-bender and in that case the distracted, cell-phone-talking idiot who hit me got the ticket.

My only point is that, as a callow youth I liked the combination of cars and speed. I’ve outgrown it and you will not see me at the oft-proposed new South Kitsap raceway.

But by the time it gets built — if it ever happens — they’ll probably have to get the cars out of museums to race in anyway.

What’s the problem?

Once again, Kitsap infighting, polarizing debates about where, how fast, etc.

So much so that the frustrated property owner was threatening to pull the plug on the whole deal in this newspaper 10 days ago.

Speaking of this newspaper, read the letters to the editor sometime. Hardly ever does anyone write and politely disagree with a previously stated opinion.

The preferred form of address is name-calling, on the left and the right.

And God help anyone trying to be witty as they poke fun at the dearly held opinions Kitsappers act as if were written in stone. Or the Bible.

I’m not saying there has ever been a whole lot to admire about Rodney King. But, although I’ll never say it to my Seattle friends, I do find myself asking, “Why can’t South Kitsappers all just get along?”

Dennis Wilken is a former Port Orchard Independent reporter.

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