Editorial: The Bully Pulpit

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[caption id="attachment_4531" align="alignright" width="269"] Paul LePage[/caption]

Many local schools rightfully have anti-bullying programs that call on students and teachers to recognize schoolyard bullying when it is happening, stand up to it and stamp it out before it goes too far.

The hope is that if they are disciplined early, bullies will admit their mistakes and learn to treat their peers like human beings—with a measure of understanding and compassion. Unfortunately, these lessons do not always stick and sometimes a bully finds himself elected to public office.

Last week, Maine’s Governor Paul LaPage—as bombastically foolish as any elected official in the country—suggested that he sometimes formulates false stories in order to mislead reporters. In published reports, LaPage oozed out his continued disdain for print media, saying “the sooner the print press goes away, the better society will be.”

There are few statements as stupid and as willfully ignorant of history as that statement by LaPage.

Meanwhile, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was caught relaxing with his family on a beach last week—the very same beach he ordered closed to the public as part of a Jersey government shutdown. “I didn’t get any sun today,” bellowed Christie, before those aerial photos became public.

When schoolyard bullies are confronted for their heinous actions, they often react in one of two ways: they either deny any culpability or they lash out verbally in full defense mode. No matter which tactic they employ, there is almost always a parent or two that will enthusiastically join in the victim-blaming.

And that is where we are in the country. Bullish elected officials attack media outlets, blaming reporters and newspaper staff for the woes of society, while supporters cheer them on with pitchforks raised in the air—nary a thought given to the importance of the press throughout history.

—Steve Mosco

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