One of the things I thought about when I was resettling in New England was Nathaniel Hawthorne, whose novel, The Scarlet Letter, had been mandatory high school summer reading. If I were being honest and not working from alternative facts, I would acknowledge my only real memory of it was how relentlessly cheerless it was.
I recall Dr. George the teacher who had assigned Young Goodman Brown to us as a short story during the semester, telling the class he felt the novel was an accurate reflection of New England: rough over smooth, having craggy and flinty edges with people who kept to themselves and expected others to do the same. (Though, I would argue today, most certainly NOT Arthur Dimmesdale.)
I also flashed on H.L. Mencken's attempted aphorism, "Puritanism: The haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy." If you didn't know Hawthorne had been born in Salem, Massachusetts (yes, that Salem) would you have been surprised to find it out? I didn't think so. It's that observation. mixed with more than a dash of Hawthorne that Norwich politics so often reminds me of.
Out walking early Sunday afternoon, thinking about writing these words (and the idea that I think about it at all may be a bigger surprise to you than Nat's hometown) it was for me a short distance from public shaming combined with unhappiness at someone else's success that brought me back to "Derbygate" a term I hope either Ryan Blessing or The Bulletin had the presence of mind to register since I'm pretty sure there will be bumper stickers and tee-shirts and perhaps lunchboxes coming from all of it.
I ran a quick Google search (is there any other kind?) on Derbygate and the results are impressive. But it's not the reporting of the Connecticut Municipal Electric Energy Cooperative, CMEEC, and its strategic annual trips to the Kentucky Derby I'm thinking about so much as the comments, sometimes on the newspaper website and other times on (mostly Facebook) social media postings that disquiet me.
I don't mean the anger from almost the moment the feces intersected with the ventilator-I get that. And based on some of the comments attributed to our Mayor and the NPU General Director at last Thursday's Ethics Commission hearing, so, too, do they. Seemingly at least a day late and perhaps more than a dollar short....or is 'dollar' now a trigger word?
And don't think I'm being cavalier, I'm not by any means. I, too, am angry (not at imagined costs to me as a ratepayer) but more than that, I'm disappointed.
My point (despite the hat, still visible I fear) as I regard the righteous outrage if not borderline bloodthirstiness of some (mostly anonymous) commentators is tempered by the Bulletin's online poll (by its own admission, not close to scientific) of 27 October 2016 which asked "If CMEEC had invited you on the Kentucky Derby trip, would you have gone?" There were only 136 responses out of which 43% said "yes," and 46% said "no." Most telling (to me at least) was only 10% said, "I'd have to think about it."
Borrowing from my former neighbor, Reverend Cal Lord and quoting John 8:7, 'Let any one of you without sin throw the first stone," I'm glad our cobblestone streets were paved over long ago because otherwise too many of us would be risking broken fingernails these days.