We must deny the urge to ruin each other

Mayor Nick Isgro of Waterville is 36 years old, married, and has five children. By all accounts he is intelligent, respectful and concerned about his community.

He is also now, apparently, unemployed.

The mayor of Waterville is not a full time position, and so Isgro actually earns his living in private employment. It is this private employment that was just taken away from him.

What lost him his job?

The quick answer is that it was an angry mob of activists bullying his employer, Skowhegan Savings Bank, into showing him the door.

The longer answer requires context.

Some weeks ago, conservative radio host Laura Ingraham tweeted that Parkland, Florida, school shooting survivor and gun control activist David Hogg was “whining” about failing to get into colleges that are, in fact, quite exclusive.

The tweet was completely unnecessary and pointless, and she should have just left him alone. Still, it was hardly an offense worthy of what happened next.

Fox News personality Laura Ingraham and David Hogg, a student survivor from Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, left, and Rich Schultz)

Hogg, irate and out for blood, then told his massive Twitter following to contact Ingraham’s sponsors and demand they abandon advertisements on her show.

He tried to destroy a woman’s career because she said he was “whining.”

Despite getting 20 sponsors to drop her radio program, Fox News stood by Ingraham and announced that she would not be losing her new evening television program on their network.

This is where Isgro comes in.

After the Fox announcement, he expressed his satisfaction in an admittedly inappropriate way, telling Hogg to “eat it” on social media regarding his failure to get her fired.

This is obviously something Isgro shouldn’t have done. He should have known better. We should all, as leaders, be holding ourselves to a much higher standard than we all are right now, and no matter what his transgressions were, no one should really be telling him to “eat it.”

Isgro’s frustration with Hogg, though, is not exactly something he is alone on. Hogg, due to his status as a Parkland survivor, enjoys a sort of public immunity to criticism, despite being absolutely vicious to people who disagree with him.

He has, for instance, said that Sen. Marco Rubio puts a price tag on children’s lives. He has called those who oppose gun control “pathetic f*** who want to keep killing children.” He has said that the National Rifle Association is an organization of “child murderers.”

Isgro let the frustration of hearing these things get to him, and celebrated in a crude and inappropriate fashion when Hogg’s push to silence Ingraham failed.

The response to Isgro’s foolish post was not public denouncement, though, nor was it counterargument, or newly announced rivals for the mayorship.

No, the response was the gleeful seeking of his utter destruction. His crude and inadvisable comment was apparently grounds for seeking the termination of his private employment. Termination they achieved.

The people that pushed for this should be ashamed.

Increasingly in this country, disagreeing with somebody is not enough. Now, it seems, we have to ruin. We need to take a father of five’s livelihood away from him and obliterate his earning potential because he rudely registered satisfaction that a mob of bullies were not going to intimidate an opponent into silence.

I am frankly disgusted and ashamed that this is somehow the world we inhabit now.

And let me be clear, this new reality has no partisan origin. This is now the worst of the Hatfields and the McCoys. What the left has done to Isgro is, sadly, almost certain to be a favor that is returned, which will then inspire retribution of its own.

This is a new kind of authoritarianism. The authoritarianism of pitchforks and torches in the hands of an irrational mob that seeks to silence and destroy the lives of people with whom they disagree.

This won’t end until we start to realize the folly of acting this way. You don’t win by silencing critics. You don’t triumph by destroying lives.

We have plenty of ways we can fight each other without sinking to this level.

If you disagree with someone, fine. Say so. If they believe things you are horrified by, fine. Say so. If they hold an elective office, try to beat them in the next election with a candidate that reflects your values.

But leave it there. Our social fabric can not be maintained if this is how we treat each other.

I’m begging you all to stop this. I’m begging you to think about what you are doing. Put down the knives. The hedonistic joy you feel by destroying the life of a political opponent is darkening your very soul.

And the more we let it happen, the more likely it is to happen to you someday.

Matthew Gagnon

About Matthew Gagnon

Matthew Gagnon, of Yarmouth, is the Chief Executive Officer of the Maine Heritage Policy Center, a free market policy think tank based in Portland. Prior to Maine Heritage, he served as a senior strategist for the Republican Governors Association in Washington, D.C. Originally from Hampden, he has been involved with Maine politics for more than a decade.