In Massachusetts, proponents of a ballot initiative regarding driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants have been targeted by a campaign of vicious bullying. According to a Massachusetts Republican Party press release, volunteers who set up tables to gather signatures for the petition were harassed, attacked, and accosted on numerous occasions by people who oppose the petition. For example, State Sen. Jamie Eldridge stood in front of table that had been set up outside a Cabela’s store in Hudson in order to physically block people from signing the petition. At a Market Basket in Waltham, City Councilor Jonathan Paz and other protesters did the same thing while holding insulting signs. Protesters did something similar at a Market Basket in Tewksbury. And worst of all, at a Hannaford supermarket in Chelmsford, people ripped up completed signature sheets.
It shouldn’t even need to be stated, but ripping up signature sheets and/or physically blocking access to a table is not acceptable, and anyone who does this is a bully. Dismayingly, when the MassGOP tweeted about these instances of bullying, several people responded not by condemning these actions but by taking the side of the bullies.
The fact that people chose to respond in this way is disgraceful. Bullies insulted and harassed innocent people, violently destroyed their property, and physically blocked people from signing a petition, and yet somehow, the victims of these actions, as opposed to the perpetrators, are the ones being criticized. As you can see from the above screenshots, people chose to ridicule bullying victims and to pick apart their actions – criticizing a photo of smiling volunteers and an alleged lack of photographic evidence* – as opposed to criticizing the actual bullies. And then there’s Chip Jones, who accused MassGOP chair Jim Lyons of somehow being “anti business” and “anti private property” and “attacking conservative principles” for believing that he is entitled to do something that Massachusetts civil rights law specifically grants him the right to do. I wasn’t aware that destroying other people’s property and blocking dissenting views from being expressed were considered conservative principles.
Ripping up people’s property and forcibly preventing people from signing a petition is unacceptable, full stop. When bullying occurs, the correct thing to do is to criticize the bullies, not their victims. Anyone who considers it more important to police the words and actions of bullying victims than to condemn the bullies is themselves a bully. By choosing to split hairs about whether the MassGOP worded its statements perfectly or included definitive photo evidence, these twitter users are siding with people who rip up signature sheets and physically block people from doing something that they have a right to do. This is shameful and disgusting.
* The MassGOP’s press release includes a photo of the ripped-up signature sheets as well as several photos of protestors physically blocking tables.