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Bigotry against the disabled rears its head in Unicameral race

Screenshot from "Nolte for Legislature" facebook page

There are some character traits most citizens find desirable in a candidate for public office. While that list is likely long and diverse depending on the citizen, I’ll wager that “bigoted” isn’t on it.

In this enlightened day and age, we eschew the practice of ridiculing folks based solely on their appearance, ethnicity or disability. In fact, careers (both political and private sector) have ended over ill-advised comments in the public space, and in some cases, private comments that were later leaked to the public.

Now, it goes without saying that there is a significant double standard at work in the grievance industry as a whole, where a leftist political bent will largely insulate you from the consequences of your behavior, blunting the criticism and muting the outrage. Of course, the same statement coming from a conservative would result in an entirely different response – something akin to a tsunami introducing itself to a one-horse town.

There are some incidences however, where I will agree with the grievance-mongers that the behavior is beyond the pale, warranting a collective shudder of revulsion from the electorate, thereby putting a swift end to the aspirations of a candidate.

It is my considered opinion, that making fun of the disabled is one of those incidences.
A fellow by the name of Ron Nolte is running for a seat in the Unicameral representing District 2. The seat is currently held by Senator Bill Kintner, who is running for re-election. Ron has had a difficult time gaining traction for his campaign against an incumbent with a reputation among his constituents as someone who keeps his word.

Without digressing too much, suffice it to say that if Ron intends to warm the seat for District 2 next session, he needs more than 39 facebook “likes” for his campaign page to do it. Yes, I’m not joking. At the time of this writing, he has found only 39 folks willing to “like” his page, a showing that is the social media equivalent of throwing a party and having only your cousin show up, brought kicking and screaming by your Aunt.

Now, back to the character trait of Mr. Nolte that has stirred this writer’s ire (along with the ire of pretty much anyone who hears about it!) and Mr. Nolte’s revealing foray into bigotry.

On the aforementioned facebook campaign page, Mr. Nolte was attempting another of his “traction-gaining exercises” by piling on to Senator Kintner’s back over the number of bills and amendments the Senator has passed this session.

Now, before we descend into the pit that is Ron Nolte’s mindset, it is instructive to note that success in politics has nothing to do with the numbers of laws you pass, but rather the number of times you have represented the interests of your constituents against the frequently invasive and overbearing initiatives of the “government is good for you” crowd.

In this measure, Senator Kintner excels. He has fought against increased spending, increased taxation, increased regulation and the growth of government at every turn. Not coincidentally, these efforts align perfectly with the promises he made to the voters of District 2 when he campaigned for their vote.

Clearly, acting in the best interests of your constituents is a failure in Mr. Nolte’s eyes, if you can’t point to a pile of legislative legalese with your name on it.

Back to the bigotry. In his eagerness to besmirch and belittle his opponent, Mr. Nolte revealed a bit more of his personality than any of us wished to see. Sort of like an aging exotic dancer long past her prime, taking off the duds one time past the expiration date.

Mr. Nolte called Senator Kintner “Special K,” and no, despite a pathetic attempt by Mr. Nolte to claim he was referring to a diet cereal, we all knew precisely what he meant – a pejorative assertion that the Senator is on an intellectual par with the mentally disabled, hence the appellation “Special.” Now Mr. Nolte didn’t follow up with the usual jibes about short buses or eating paste, but he really didn’t need to, did he?

As the grandfather of, and along with my wife, the primary caregiver to a profoundly disabled little boy, I felt that sting more keenly than most.

My grandson of course didn’t choose his condition, but he perseveres, exhibiting a strength and determination unmatched by his able-bodied peers. He faces issues and hurdles daily that make me quail at the mere thought, while he pushes past them with the resolve of an unstoppable force.

My grandson IS special Mr. Ron Nolte, but not in the way you think, not in a bigoted, demeaning fashion. He doesn’t live in your world, where calling someone “special” is an insult intended to demean their intellectual capacity or ability.

No Mr. Nolte, he is special because of his response to his deficits, his utter refusal to be defined by them. With a disdain for pity and a great heart, he faces each day with more courage and happiness than most folks muster, certainly more than those who consider his condition grist for jokes or insults.

As I write this, it occurs to me that you may have spoken an unutterable truth after all, despite your intention to demean.

When I look at the character traits that define my grandson, the unquenchable human spirit that drives him to triumph over his disabilities, I realize that his sort of “special” is indeed exhibited by Senator Kintner as he refuses to be defined by his detractors, or demeaned by his opposition.

Character traits like that rank pretty high on the list of “must haves” for candidates for public office. You didn’t know it Mr. Nolte, but your ugly display of bigotry doesn’t simply disqualify you from office, it also recommends your opponent for a second term.

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