A few days ago the Washington Post carried an interesting confession by a suburban Mom in Maine. She admitted and she and two of her friends became so enraged by the presence of a bunch of Donald Trump signs on their street that they went out one night and tore them down. Unfortunately for them, their act of vandalism was seen by the police, and the next day she received a summons to appear in court, because the owner of the property that displayed the yard signs — who just happened to be the chairman of a Maine PAC supporting Trump — was pressing charges.
Why did the woman suddenly engage in an act of vandalism? Because she hates Trump, and is angry about his crass comments about women, which remind her of her own experience with a crude boss who propositioned her for sex, and she thought that the number of yard signs supporting Trump were destroying the “equilibrium” of her neighborhood. She writes that she and her friends “felt assaulted by the number of signs. The idea of “cleansing” our streets seemed like the fastest way to restore balance and alleviate our election stress.” Now she regrets her conduct and recognizes that she momentarily snapped — and will have to face her day in court.
As the Post article notes, this election is raising temperatures nationwide, and the hard feelings are being acted out through Facebook rants, yard sign thefts, acts of vandalism — all the way up to tossing a bomb into a Trump campaign headquarters. It’s sad to think that this wretched campaign might bust up friendships or family relationships, and it’s even sadder when suburban Moms decide — even if only momentarily — that they have the right to trample on a neighbor’s exercise of their rights to free speech. Whatever you might think of Trump, you have to at least acknowledge that his supporters have the right to at least express their opinions, just as you have the right to vehemently disagree with those opinions — and if you don’t acknowledge that reality, then we’re really in the process of losing something fundamental and immensely valuable about America.
But here’s the saddest thing: the Maine Mom hasn’t even met the man whose yard signs she stole. She didn’t try to talk to him to tell him how she and her friends felt, and he didn’t try to talk to her before deciding to press charges. You’d like to think that neighbors could at least talk to each other and try to bridge the gap, before resorting to stealing yard signs on one side and going to court on the other. Maybe if they’d sat down face to face they might have realized that they were dealing with a human being, acquired an understanding of how the other person felt, and perhaps changed their mind on how to proceed.
But these days, it seems, no one talks anymore, and the first response is to escalate — which is how the courts in Maine are going to be hearing a case involving a suburban Mom who stupidly stole some yard signs because she thinks Donald Trump is a jerk.