“You probably haven’t seen the news. Can you confirm whether or not your daughter Bridget has been kidnapped?”
–Pennsylvanian Simon Radecki of Northampton County, asking Senator Pat Toomey a question at a public town hall relating to the President’s decision to suspend the DACA.
It’s seldom one sees a deliberate breach of question and answer ethics from a member of the public (journalists breach these all the time, but they also are held to higher standards).Radecki’s question to the Senator qualifies, and is about as odious as the breed gets.
To begin with, the question was framed as a lie, suggesting that there was any report to confirm. It was also vicious, an intentional infliction of emotional distress (a tort), a plausible threat, and a direct Golden Rule breach. Nobody would want to have someone falsely report that his daughter was the victim of a crime or in mortal danger, yet this is exactly what Radecki did to Toomey. To add to the question’s unethical pedigree, Radecki dragged Toomey’s innocent 16-year-old daughter ( Ivanka Trump-hate notwithstanding, being the child of a Republican is not yet a crime) into a political controversy, exploiting her and employing her as a tool of partisan attack.
It was also an incompetent question: stupid, illogical, and ignorant, attempting an illegitimate analogy as well as employing on of my least favorite arguments, the “how would you feel if it was your loved one?” gotcha, a line of attack that suggests that policy decisions are better made with biases and conflicts of interest than without them. Indeed, the implication that deporting an illegal immigrant is in any way like kidnapping is so idiotic that it is signature significance for someone no sentient citizen should choose to listen to as long as there is an escape route. I don’t even want to know how Radecki arrives at the conclusion that his question makes any sense at all, beyond “Think of the children!” at its bottom, slug-level worst. His question, in addition to being cruel, dishonest and disgusting, is so stupid that it risks the brain cells of anyone who reads it or hears it.
Radecki was kicked out of the forum, as he should have been, for violating basic standards or decorum, civility and decency. Bethlehem police, however, arrested him, and may bring charges against him for disorderly conduct and disrupting a public meeting. Wrong. He’s an idiot, and Hanlon’s Razor applies: authorities should presume stupidity rather than malice, especially when freedom speech is involved.