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.
In my home state of Massachusetts, the state Republican Party has been speaking out against excessive government restrictions to fight the coronavirus. Governor Charlie Baker has begun gradually allowing businesses to open (as if the government had a right to order businesses to close to begin with), and dismayingly but unsurprisingly, numerous politicians have been criticizing even this as too risky.
The Massachusetts Republican Party has come out on the side of individual liberty on this issue. On May 26, they and numerous supporters sent a letter to Gov. Baker urging him to stay the course on re-opening the state. The letter reads in part:
By now, it should be clear: the shutdown of private businesses, large and small, has given the Democratic Party — the party of government overreach — a political boost. This disastrous pandemic has led to unconstitutional decrees being set in stone almost overnight, creating what is unquestionably a dream scenario for the Democrats — stifle independence, entrepreneurship, and personal responsibility, and you create a world dependent upon the state.
We write to you today to urge you to push back, publicly, on the Democrats’ demands to keep Massachusetts shuttered.
We write to you today to remind you that the most regulated businesses in the Commonwealth, our nursing homes, also happen to account for more than 61 percent of all COVID-19-related deaths.
We write to you today to convey the frustrations of small business owners, who have had to padlock their doors while their big-box competitors across the street are allowed to remain open. We write to you today to remind you that the Massachusetts business community lives and breathes on the ambitions, creativity, and dreams of its residents, but will die a painful death if it succumbs to the whims of an unelected bureaucracy. These business owners realize the importance of maintaining a hygienic environment — if the public does not trust them and their products, no amount of government intervention will keep them afloat….
Democrats like to talk about fatalities associated with this virus, but still unknown yet just as tragic are the deaths that will occur due to alcoholism, drug use, and suicide, all of which will be on the increase as long as residents are forced to lock themselves away.
Ten weeks of lockdowns have been enough. We’ve flattened the curve, prevented our hospitals from being overwhelmed, and sacrificed our liberties. We’ve watched as a hyper-partisan media has misfired on their forecasts of doom.
The full letter can be read here.
Additionally, the MassGOP issued a statement against a letter by 91 economists calling for – it makes me sick to even write this – new taxes to cover any budget shortfall resulting from the pandemic and associated shutdown. “Incredibly, these economists are calling for an income tax increase at the absolute worst possible time, when mandated business shutdowns have people struggling to make any income at all,” said MassGOP chairman Jim Lyons. I couldn’t have said it any better.
The MassGOP also has a petition to re-open the state, which can be signed here.