GloucesterTimes.com, Gloucester, MA

Opinion

October 10, 2013

Editorial: A government against its people

We have reached a very sad state of affairs in our country when citizens can describe public servants as behaving like “the Gestapo.”

Yet that heinous description, voiced by a tour bus guide, actually seems to fit the experiences of a North Shore resident on a tour of our national parks as the federal government shutdown hit (the Times, Wednesday, Oct. 9). The story echoes others of officially sanctioned thuggery we have heard from across the nation, and the treatment of this woman and her group at the hands of Park Service rangers is nothing short of appalling.

The message from the administration seems clear: The people’s representatives have forced a government shutdown, therefore, the people must be made to suffer.

Salisbury resident and senior citizen Pat Vaillancourt, thankfully, was unwilling to accept her punishment meekly. Vaillancourt was on a nine-day tour of Western parks and sites along with about four dozen other senior tourists. And the group arrived at Yellowstone just as the shutdown went into effect. There, armed rangers ordered the tour group to stop photographing wildlife and herded them into a hotel, where they remained under armed guard to prevent them from going outside and “recreating.” Some of the foreign nationals on the tour feared they were under arrest.

It would have been nice if this thuggish treatment of our own citizens and workers ended when the Commerce Inspector General’s Office cited widespread excessive enforcement on the part of NOAA policing henchmen against fishermen. Instead, the Parks Service seems to be using those tactics as a model.

That’s scary.

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