Have you heard that the mayor of the second largest city in Maine has stepped down?
Shane Bouchard, the Republican mayor of the second largest city in Maine, stepped down after leaked emails and texts showed he joked that elderly black people were “antique farm equipment” …
When I first saw the headline about a Maine government official resigning, I thought perhaps the state’s racist governor had finally stepped down. A moment’s checking revealed that Bouchard is a prominent Maine mayor, not the governor (and that the state finally replaced its racist governor in the last election). I have long been baffled that the state’s former governor, Paul LePage, didn’t resign over his own comments—and at why his racism was so little covered.
At a town hall meeting in January 2016, LePage “began talking about how much of the heroin is coming into Maine from out-of-state drug dealers.”
“These are guys with the name D-Money, Smoothie, Shifty – these types of guys – they come from Connecticut and New York, they come up here, they sell their heroin, they go back home,” LePage told a large crowd. “Incidentally, half the time they impregnate a young white girl before they leave, which is a real sad thing because then we have another issue we have to deal with down the road.”
In case the racial implications of his comments aren’t clear enough, LePage later dug in, saying this the following at another town hall meeting in August, when asked about his comments months earlier:
“Let me tell you this, explain to you, I made the comment that black people are trafficking in our state, now ever since I said that comment I’ve been collecting every single drug dealer who has been arrested in our state,” LePage said. “I don’t ask them to come to Maine and sell their poison, but they come and I will tell you that 90-plus percent of those pictures in my book, and it’s a three-ringed binder, are black and Hispanic people from Waterbury, Conn., the Bronx and Brooklyn.”
Someone obtained a copy of this binder via a FOIA request. LePage’s “90-plus percent” claim isn’t near true. Have you ever heard the studies about how men misestimate how much of a conversation women dominate? I’m reminded of this study, which found that men overestimated the amount of time women spent speaking in mixed-sex conversations.But the pictures in LePage’s bizarre book—assembled for the expressed purpose of proving his comments right—weren’t actually in step with drug-related arrests in his state. In other words, even they were cherry picked.
The Maine Department of Public Safety doesn’t include race when compiling and analyzing crime data. And the most recent crime data from the FBI suggest the governor’s claim doesn’t pass muster.
The FBI data show that blacks accounted for 14 percent of a total of 1,211 drug sale and manufacturing arrests and 7.4 percent of 5,791 total drug arrests in Maine in 2014, the most recent numbers available.
Everything about this is racist as heck—and yet LePage did not step down.
When a reporter insinuated that Democratic State Representative Drew Gattine had called him a racist, LePage called Gattine and left this message on his voicemail:
Mr. Gattine, this is Governor Paul Richard LePage. I would like to talk to you about your comments about my being a racist, you cocksucker. I want to talk to you. You want — I want you to prove that I’m a racist. I’ve spent my life helping black people and you little son of a bitch, socialist cocksucker. You — I need you to just fricking — I want you to record this and make it public because I am after you. Thank you.
Asked by reporters to explain his comments, LePage said:
I wish it were 1825 and we would have a duel, that’s how angry I am, and I would not put my gun in the air, I guarantee you … I would point it right between his eyes, because he is a snot-nosed little runt and he has not done a damn thing since he’s been in this legislature to help move the state forward.
And yet, somehow, unbelievably, LePage never resigned. Ironically, one of LePage’s last acts as Governor was to pardon former Republican state representative Jeffrey Pierce for a felony drug trafficking conviction.
Given all this, I am genuinely surprised that Bouchard—the mayor of Maine’s second largest city, who recently resigned for making racist jokes—actually resigned. If nothing else, LePage made it clear that Maine is not a state where politicians who say racist things need to resign. The contrary.
Ironically, one of LePage’s last acts as Governor was to pardon former Republican state representative Jeffrey Pierce for a felony drug trafficking conviction. Apparently drug trafficking doesn’t count if you’re white?
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