PAT LaMARCHE

The bully-in-chief’s required reading

Posted April 26, 2011, at 9:48 p.m.
Last modified May 11, 2011, at 10:09 p.m.

How is the state of Maine like a school yard?

Politically, it would be more time efficient to say how the state of Maine isn’t like a school yard.  But let’s start with folks using put downs instead of intelligent discussion.

Now I’ve been called a lot of names in my public life – everything from wing nut to saint. Neither is true by the way. But folks comment one way or the other and make themselves feel better by doing so.

Some folks call me a saint because I care about veterans, homeless people and sick kids but that’s not saintly behavior; we all should care about them. And my compassion is also my career so that means my passionate attachment to others actually provides immediate and tangible reward.

And the ones who call me wing nut – my favorites – usually do so because they feel equal rights shouldn’t be human rights. And rather than explain what human difference there is between a gay person and a straight person, they try to insult me. Oh and they also don’t like me repeating the findings of the vast majority of scientists when it comes to our atmosphere or water quality.

Still – with the exception of folks like me who see insults as proof of the opposition’s failings – name calling can actually harm people. And in Gov. LePage’s case – as is the case for most people who run to insults when they’ve run out of cogent argument – the invective hurler hurts themselves.

Unfortunately, LePage like most bullies surrounds himself by other bullies so he never gets a fair assessment of his actual global image. Those around him guffaw at his tirades while the even tempered on the periphery just further lower their opinion of this bully pack.

Because these behaviors are counterproductive, we as a society bring our young people up reciting clever little ditties on how to deal with brutes. Sayings like, “When someone points a finger at you there are three more pointed back at them.” Or, “Sticks and stones may break your bones but names will never hurt you.”

We’ve also designated zero tolerance zones for such behavior. Places like churches and schools where people are expected to behave with reverence and respect. In fact, instilling Mainers with these values is so important to us that the state website has a bullying policy available for replication by every school in their jurisdiction. It’s fairly generic but if you go to the Waterville school department’s website, you’ll see that they’ve adopted quite a bit of it for their own student body.

I’ve selected Waterville as my example because the state’s name-caller-in-chief used to be the mayor of that city so I’m assuming he’s aware of the policy.

Now I don’t blame the governor for being frustrated with the approval process necessary for the zoning of Maine’s unorganized territories. I’ve written before about my displeasure with LURC.   I’ve remarked that it’s completely absurd that a casino zoning question that dictates the land use, traffic flow and economic impact of a few acres gets decided by every voter in the whole state while the fate of a piece of property larger than Connecticut  and Rhode Island combined gets decided by seven appointed individuals. And the only real criteria used to select the LURC commissioners is the agenda of the governor who appoints them.

Now according to Restore the Maine Woods’ Jym St. Pierre – presumably one of the environmentalists labeled a “dingbat” by Maine’s master maligner – LePage misunderstood the process which has delayed the Plum Creek land development project thereby making his derogatory remark not only inappropriate but misplaced as well.

But isn’t that just like a bully? When someone wants their way regardless of having or knowing the facts, they just push, shove or insult their way through the process. Bullying and bluffing go hand in hand. And the Maine School Management Association’s recommended consequences for bullies dictates that they “shall be subject to disciplinary consequences up to and including suspension and expulsion.”

Gov. LePage, just read the bullying policy in our public schools and you’ll understand why so many folks want you expelled from office.

Pat LaMarche of Yarmouth is the author of “Left Out In America: The State of Homelessness in the United States.” She may be reached at PatLaMarche@ hotmail.com.

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