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Tuesday, November 25, 2014         

UNDER THE SUN


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Long, dark cloud coming down on politics

By Cynthia Oi

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Few political prognosticators could have predicted that someday an election official would issue a statement about whether voters clad in gear from the World Wrestling Entertainment domain would be allowed at polling places.

The dubious honor went this week to Connecticut Secretary of the State Susan Bysiewicz, who declared that voters will be permitted to flash muscle-shirts, tanks, masks and sweats displaying images of Edge, the Undertaker, Rey Mysterio or any of their favorite wrasslers if they so desire.

This triumph of fundamental freedom of expression in America came after the WWE's CEO filed a federal lawsuit when he learned that officials might ban such stylin' apparel in the voting booth.

The CEO is the better half of Linda McMahon, who was CEO herself before resigning to grapple in the more vicious arena of politics by making a run for governor.

Thus, the clothing could be construed as campaigning, which state law forbids near a polling place. You see the connection.

The Nutmeg State's episode was just a toe in the waters of madness that are the midterm elections.

We have seen new and unexpected candidates soar into the political heavens just to crash and burn as inexperience, naivete and just plain craziness sent them into downward spirals.

We've heard sitting members of Congress spin theories about Muslim women coming to the U.S. to have babies to be raised as homegrown jihadists.

We've had candidates look at a group of Hispanic students and question whether they aren't, in fact, Asians.

We had party leaders calling for armed insurrection if more of their members don't make it to Washington.

We've had yelling, truth-shaving, out-and-out lying and really, really bad behavior. Few candidates across the political spectrum have drawn any lines in the sands of decency. Few have taken the high road; many have gone as low as you can go.

Civil discourse has all but disappeared. Disagreements are characterized as unpatriotic treachery, as threats as grave to America as terrorism.

In Kentucky this week, Rand Paul, the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, "disassociated" himself from one of his campaign coordinators.

This came after an unrehearsed wrestling match in which a woman from the liberal group MoveOn.org showed up at a debate, was grabbed by at least two Rand men and shoved to the ground. While she was down, the campaign coordinator stomped on her neck and shoulders until another man told him to back off.

The video of the incident is scary, but the coordinator claimed that the angle of the shot made his actions appear "overly forceful," much worse than it really was. I guess stomping is worse in the eyes of the stomper than the stompee's.

Hawaii hasn't yet experienced such extremism, but intrusion by mainland groups with different sensibilities have clouded our skies even as islanders' viewpoints turn more toward darkness.

So Saturday's "Rally to Restore Sanity" in Washington, D.C., and at the state Capitol here comes at a good time. Turning down the noise, re-cultivating respectful behavior and maybe having a few laughs will be a relief. It can't hurt.

Cynthia Oi can be reached at coi@staradvertiser.com.






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