Several weeks ago, Gary and Laura LaMarche stated their objections (1-30-12) to my calling the new Escanaba Township ice track developers bullies for forging ahead with races while litigation against them is pending. They also took issue with my feeling cynically manipulated by the Boy Scouts and other local charities, which benefit from these races at the expense of neighbors nearby.
I was saddened to read that the LaMarche's son had been a victim of bullying. I too was bullied, and even physically assaulted more than one time by another student en route home from grade school many years ago. Perhaps my feeling overpowered then and since explains my empathizing with township residents along N. 7 Lane, none of whom I know personally. After all, what adversely affects somebody else today might affect me, or you, in like manner tomorrow. Isn't this in effect the Golden Rule?
I'm sure most people recognize that there are many kinds and degrees of bullying. In fact my trusty Webster's definition of the term includes words like "overbearing", "intimidating", and "domineering." And I might add here "insulting," as when race promoter Dave Walker suggested a local resident has "too much time on her hands" for daring to protest the project's aggressive and allegedly illegal pursuit. But since the ice track supporters don't like being called bullies, let's use some alternative phrases instead. How about "might makes right', as in earth-moving equipment showing up one fine day and creating, unannounced, a racetrack and huge mounds of unsightly dirt, parked semi trucks and round hay bales within 1,000 feet of at least 19 homes. Go and see for yourself. One might wonder how much drifting of soil onto the roadway and into neighboring yards there will be on windy, warm days. Again, I must point out what the LaMarche's reply conveniently overlooked: The track's indescribable noise, clearly heard miles away; the fumes, the steady new traffic hauling heavy trailers, and the visual blight all lie comfortably and far removed from the site's owners, developers, and promoters. Also, if these new Saturday races were intended, as the Barrons claimed, to replace the Sunday river races, why are the latter continuing as well, subjecting residents to weekend-long assaults on their sanity and property values?
Another stand-in for "bullying" is the idea of strength in numbers, frequently translating to the tyranny of the minority by the majority. In this case the racing promoters at the outset brought onboard various boosters and community groups including the Boy Scouts, with whom the LaMarche's are prominently involved. This is what I mean, of course, by feeling cynically manipulated. Many others I've spoken with have gotten this as well, recognizing that even questioning, much less criticizing, the involvement of charitable organizations like the Salvation Army, Cans for the County and most especially the Boy Scouts of America is akin to dissing the flag, Mom and apple pie. And so it isn't at all surprising that once the wheels were in motion, with considerable monies invested, racing-related businesses jumping in, concessions stands up and running, charitable groups gaining funds, and trophies awarded to smiling young racers, this soon might be seen as too big and too darned wholesome to fail.
This folks behind this, including the charities involved, clearly seem to have mastered Marketing 101, if not the Golden Rule.