EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

October 9, 2013

Editorial: Government shows its contempt for citizenry

We have reached a very sad state of affairs indeed in our country when citizens can describe public servants as behaving like the Gestapo -- and that heinous description turns out to be quite justified.

The experiences of a Merrimack Valley resident on a tour of our national parks as the federal government shutdown hit echo the stories of officially sanctioned thuggery we have heard from across the nation. The treatment of this woman and her tour group at the hands of Park Service rangers -- acting under the direction of the Obama administration -- is shameful and appalling.

It is a measure of the contempt in which political leaders hold the public, an attitude that turns the concept of “public service” on its ear. Those who would behave in such a manner do not see themselves as public servants at all but rather as overlords attempting to control an unruly peasantry.

The budget stand-off in Congress that produced the shutdown is rapidly diminishing in importance as the evidence of how official Washington views the public it was elected to serve becomes clear. The message from the administration is this: The people’s representatives have forced a government shutdown. Therefore, the people must be made to suffer.

Salisbury resident Pat Vaillancourt was unwilling to accept her punishment meekly. The senior citizen, who grew up in Lawrence, told the Daily News of Newburyport of her outrage at the treatment of her group at Yellowstone National Park.

Vaillancourt was on a nine-day tour of Western parks and sites along with about four dozen senior citizen tourists. The group arrived at Yellowstone just as the shutdown went into effect. 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.” Barricades kept them from viewing the park’s scenic sites, such as Old Faithful geyser. Some of the foreign nationals on the tour feared they were under arrest.

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