Blaine Young on parade

So I’m sitting on my son’s front porch on Main Street in Woodsboro, watching the annual Memorial Day parade. We Americans observe this holiday to honor our war dead, but over the decades that purpose has been mixed with honoring those who came back alive.

There’s a solemn color guard at the head of the parade followed, curiously, by the county sheriff waving and smiling. I say curious because Chuck Jenkins was never in the military.

Oh, yeah, this is an election year, and he is campaigning for himself, as are several other candidates coming down the street. They are interspersed with fire engines, Cub Scouts, bag pipers and farm wagons carrying old men from the Greatest Generation. This is the America we love.

Then I see Blaine Young, walking, grinning and tossing candy to kids on the curbs.

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I give him a thumb-down sign. If he is going to use this parade to seek approval, I feel free to express disapproval of how he has ruled Frederick County—a place where my family’s roots go back to the mid-1700s.

He sees me. I’m only about 25 feet away. He doesn’t know me, but the grin fades, and he reaches into his bag of candies, pulls out a fistful and throws them at me, overhand, hard. The pieces ricochet off the house all around me. Then he hurls another handful at me. But still he has not fully expressed himself. Finally the most powerful man in Frederick County government grabs a third handful and fires it at me as well.

My family and friends on the porch are amazed, even shocked. It may sound petty, but Blaine Young has revealed something about his character. Throwing things at people who disagree with you does cross a line between social and antisocial behavior. It is a form of violence. Can Blaine Young really be so petty and thin skinned that he cannot tolerate even my nonviolent show of disapproval? What sort of man is he? The children tell me he acts like a bully. What if one of them had been struck?

Later after I describe this bizarre display to friends, one tells me that the same thing happened to a woman she knows just a block farther down Main Street. That woman also gave Young thumbs-down. And again he threw things, hitting her in the face. I have since spoken with the woman and confirmed this astonishing coincidence. She said it hurt.

Now think about this. There would have been a minute or two between Blaine’s two outbursts. He had time to realize how inappropriate and juvenile his behavior was, time to wish he had acted like a grown-up, especially in public, especially when he was trying to win votes. But no. He did what came naturally to him, so naturally that he did it again.

Was this behavior a momentary lapse in an otherwise sterling tradition of Blaine Young treating all people with respect? That would be forgivable. Was the sun that day so bright that he lost his normal tolerance of those who disagree with him? Or does he often lash out at those who displease him? Can he really believe that his opinions and his decisions are the only good ones? Why does he have such little respect for the people?