I admire those thousands of people in our community and other neighboring communities who have acted on their beliefs and convictions to take a stand to ensure our beaches remain OUR beaches

A few words on name calling and the free and open access and use of our beaches.

The small group of Walton County beachfront owners and lawyers driving hard for private beaches have taken to the name game to describe those of us who support open and public use of all of our beaches. We have been called socialists, agitators, communists, activists and other names I won’t mention here. They have also attempted to minimize overwhelming public sentiment on the matter of public beaches by directly targeting myself and attorney Daniel Uhlfelder as the “agitators.” A ridiculous notion, as though we are the only ones who want our beaches to be public.

I want to share a quote by Peter Coyote that cuts at the heart of their tactic to stop anyone who dare challenge them regarding our beloved beaches

“Activist is a word made up by my enemies and if you want to separate someone from the mass of humanity you add an “ist” after their name. The implication is that most people don’t act on their beliefs at all and a small radical subset do. I like to turn it around and say that people who don’t act on their beliefs are hypocrites. I am engaged with my life, I’m not thinking that I am like an activist. I drink water, I want the water to be clean. My kids breath air I want it to be clean. I want the food I eat not to be poisoned. I want the animals to have a fair break because I am interdependant with them.” … .That is being engaged, not activism.” Peter Coyote

And to add to this, I want to go to our beaches unrestricted as I always have. I want my kids to have the same that I have had. And I admire those thousands of people in our community and other neighboring communities who have acted on their beliefs and convictions to take a stand to ensure our beaches remain OUR beaches.

Prior to 2016 I have never been kicked off a beach nor had I known anyone who ever had in Walton County. If there ever was an issue that crushes our political divide this is it.

The polls are clear, both conservatives and liberals lean strongly on the side of public beaches and every politician in Florida knows it. The people of Florida will not stand for anything but full and fair use of all of our beaches and labeling us to try to divide us on the issue won’t work.

Let me tell you, my Republican friends who stand up for Customary Use don’t appreciate being called “socialist agitators” and other labels and names. If you must call us names, ”dedicated, vocal beach lover” is more apropos. Or just “beach lover” will do.

You can’t separate us from the mass of humanity or more appropriately, the majority of beach lovers by adding an “ist” to minimize our voice. No matter what you want to call us we are engaged, dedicated and determined beach lovers and we will be heard.

Dave Rauschkolb is a resident of Watersound and owner of Bud & Alley's Restaurant Group.