A few years ago, my buddy Maurice and I were in an Indianapolis diner, delightfully chowing down on pancakes the size of hub caps. A woman at the table next to us wasn't eating her meal - she was taking pictures of it and, presumably, sending them to her friends and followers.
"What kind of #*&$% is that?" I sniffed self-righteously. "Who takes pictures of their food or thinks somebody else wants to see it?"
Thats when Maurice, quite sensibly, put me in my place. "Man, leave that woman alone and let her do what she wants to with her food."
Great advice then, great advice now - especially when you can hardly turn on the television without seeing stories of Trump administration officials being confronted when they go out to eat or drink.
Scott Pruitt, Mitch McConnell, Stephen Miller, Sarah Huckabee Sanders - all have had to deal with people expressing contempt toward them in public as they tried to go about their private lives.
(This is nothing new: A Virginia cookie shop called
"Crumb and Get It" refused to allow Vice President Joe
Biden to hold a photo op there in 2012 over political
differences. Not enough people came and got it,
apparently, since the bakery went out of business.)
I asked Jarvis Hall, associate professor of Political Science at N.C. Central University, if there should be a ceasefire when people leave work, or should administration officials be fair game even when out trying to grease.
"It's not something I would do," Hall said of the confrontations, "but I certainly understand. We are in desperate times, and when you're in desperate times, sometimes we have to use desperate methods. If these people are going to continue to support a president who I personally think has engaged in criminal activity in more ways than one - a president who has developed and implemented policies that actually hurt people - they have to take responsibility for it.
"Part of that responsibility may be that you'll be confronted by the people that you supposedly represent, in whatever way they feel they want to confront you... Again, it's not something I would do, but I don't frown too much on people who do it, as long as they're not violent. I certainly don't believe in yelling and browbeating.
"By their very actions," Hall said of
administration officials, "they're making people feel
uncomfortable, and perhaps they should be made to
feel uncomfortable themselves."
But couldn't these confrontations cause a backlash
and make people feel sorry for otherwise
"It may strengthen (the president) with his base, but a lot of these people who are confronting White House officials are probably otherwise apolitical and wouldn't ordinarily engage in this type of behavior. This could just indicate they feel pushed to the extreme.
"As long as they're doing it peacefully - or, as the young lady who confronted Pruitt in the restaurant, in a respectful way, asking him to resign - I have no real problem with it," he said.
Perhaps it's a product of getting older, but my philosophy on this sort of thing has changed over the years. Remember Elton John in "Philadelphia Freedom"?
I used to be a rolling stone...
If the cause was right
I'd leave to find the answer on the road.
That was me in college. If there was a protest dealing
with an issue about which I felt strongly - or where there
might be free food - I'd be on a bus or grabbing a
sign quicker than you could say "End Apartheid!" Now,
though, I realize - as should the people out kicking up all
of this fuss - that elections have consequences and the
place to be heard is at the ballot box, not inside the
Sushi-Palooka or whatever place Miller was purchasing
Of course, if you want to go confront and boo and interrupt the meals of your friends, family members and neighbors who sat out the last election - fewer than half of America's eligible voters voted - I'll be right there with you, booing louder than anyone.
For anyone who doesn't like what's happening in the country, those are the real villains.