On Friday, U.S. Senator Rand Paul, a Republican from Kentucky who was one of the many candidates who sought the Republican presidential nomination last year, was assaulted by his next-door neighbor.
According to reports, Paul, who lives in a gated community near Bowling Green, Kentucky, had just stepped off his riding lawn mower when Rene Boucher, a retired anesthesiologist, tackled Paul, who was wearing ear guards and didn’t hear Boucher coming. The assault was so violent that it broke five of Paul’s ribs, bruised his lungs, and left him with cuts on his face. It’s not clear when Paul will be able to return to his job in the Senate. Boucher has been charged with misdemeanor assault, and could be charged with a felony given Paul’s injuries.
Putting aside my revulsion at an unfair sneak attack and physical assault — regardless of our political views, I think we can all agree that tackling somebody from behind and breaking their ribs is not appropriate and must be punished — I at first was intrigued by the news that Paul mows his lawn himself. I’m not in agreement with many of Paul’s positions on the issues, but it’s nice to know that there is still a Senator out there who still willingly experiences some of the basics of life, like cutting the grass. Sometimes you wonder whether our members of Congress, rich, staffed to the gills, and surrounded by people sucking up to them at all times, have any concept of what it is like to live a normal life in America. Cutting your own grass is a good start, so I applaud Senator Paul for that.
But the story of this dispute between neighbors seems to now be going deeper. What would motivate a retired anesthesiologist, who has lived next to Paul for 17 years and once worked in the same hospital with him, to tackle a United States Senator? Boucher’s lawyer said politics had nothing to do with it, and described the circumstances as a “very regrettable dispute between two neighbors over a matter that most people would regard as trivial.” Some people in the area say that Senator Paul — who not only cuts his own grass, but also composts and grows pumpkins on his property — doesn’t pay much attention to property regulations in the area and has different views on property rights than his neighbors. The story linked above cites some anonymous sources as saying that the dispute finally escalated into violence because of things like “stray yard clippings, newly planted saplings and unraked leaves.” Could something minor like blowing yard debris really have been the straw that broke the camel’s back, propelling one neighbor in a fancy community to assault another?
It just goes to show you that, when it comes to neighbors, the baseline requirements are pretty low. Living next door to somebody who won’t become enraged and assault you over a leaves, grass, and a compost pile is one of them.