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In My Opinion


We must halt the kooky things afoot in Raleigh

By Mark Washburn
Mark Washburn
Mark Washburn writes television and radio commentary for The Charlotte Observer.

I must rise in defense of these criminal dragnets being conducted weekly at the Statehouse.

As you may have heard, people considering themselves aggrieved at actions of elected lawmakers have gathered at the General Assembly in Raleigh in a series of “Moral Monday” protests.

Nearly 500 have been arrested after disobeying orders to skedaddle. This makes perfect sense.

Some have questioned whether it is necessary to haul off dozens of citizens in plastic shackles, plop them aboard a prison bus, fingerprint and photograph them, then parade them before a stern magistrate dispensing court dates.

But this makes perfect sense. You see, these people are walking into the legislative building, standing around, ignoring orders to leave and generally making pests of themselves.

They even have the nerve to sing hymns and songs like “This Little Light of Mine.”

This is highly disruptive. Stop and imagine for a moment that you are a legislator. How can you possibly concentrate on important issues of the day like stealing Charlotte’s airport or improving our transportation system by slapping tolls on drivers who pay one of the highest fuel taxes in the nation?

It completely ruins the decorum of the Statehouse. It obstructs lobbyists on their crucial errands to provide counsel and could even impede the delivery of envelopes containing campaign contributions, that vital oil for the machinery of democracy.

These are “outsiders,” the governor has complained, and evidence of this is lock solid. On Monday, researchers from UNC Chapel Hill fanned out among demonstrators asking where they were from.

They got responses from 316. In a shocking revelation, the data showed that only 311 were actually from North Carolina. Case closed.

It is true that ministers, at least two people in wheelchairs and a good many grandmotherly-looking agitators have been captured in the sweeps. Do not let appearances fool you.

At least three detainees have written to The News & Observer of Raleigh to compliment their arresting officers for professionalism and thank them for the dignity they were afforded during processing. Clearly, we are dealing with dangerous kooks here.

Protecting the public from these miscreants, whose objections seem to focus on frivolous issues like Medicaid and cuts in unemployment benefits, has been costly. Thousands of dollars have been spent on police overtime to haul them away.

But we must maintain our resolve. We must continue the arrests. We just cannot have people peacefully assemble in the Statehouse to air their grievances. It just isn’t right.

This makes perfect sense.

Washburn: 704-358-5007
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