Russell Gauvin should be fired from his job as chief of the Capitol Police.
Not because he posted on Facebook that he believes the presidential election was invalid.
Not because he shared inaccurate info claiming it doesn’t make sense to wear a mask to prevent spreading the coronavirus.
Not because he’s fond of racist and anti-Semitic weirdness.
Gauvin has a First Amendment right to express these repulsive ideas on social media, so long as he isn’t doing it on taxpayer time. But the First Amendment doesn’t protect him from his biggest shortcoming:
Gauvin should be canned because he’s stupid.
The evidence of Gauvin being too dopy to do something as complicated and sensitive as overseeing a 13-member staff charged with protecting the security of Maine’s Statehouse is overwhelming. But before we get to that, consider a hypothetical case.
Let’s imagine a police officer who, while perusing the internet, becomes enchanted with the works of 19th-century French anarchist Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. Proudhon is best remembered for his claim that “property is theft.” If our imaginary cop takes that sentiment to heart, he’s going to find it impossible to arrest anyone for breaking and entering, since that mischaracterized miscreant would only be stealing what’s already been stolen by others.
“Enjoy that expensive television and those jewels,” this newly enlightened member of the force would tell any felon he caught in the act of burglary. “You have as much right to these treasures as the alleged owners of this house. Mere legal doctrines cannot bind you, since we are subject only to a higher philosophical law.
“As that is the case, do not hesitate to avail yourself of the tricked-out SUV in the garage to facilitate your getaway.”
Should this fictional officer be fired for expressing his beliefs? Or is he protected by his constitutional right to free speech?
There doesn’t seem to be much doubt about the answers to those questions. Which explains why one so rarely encounters any anarchist cops.
Back to Gauvin. It could be argued that the chief hasn’t actually ignored the laws he’s pledged to enforce. He’s just said he thinks ignoring them could be justified.
If contrarian idiots refuse to abide by the mandate to wear a mask while on the Statehouse grounds, Gauvin isn’t the guy to tell them they’ll have to cover up or face the consequences. If right-wing kooks show up on the Capitol steps demanding Maine rescind its support of Joe Biden’s election, Gauvin seems to perceive them as having a legitimate grievance and might not be inclined to prevent them from entering the building and confronting lawmakers.
But if the crowd outside is composed of Blacks, Jews, LGTBQ activists, or others of that ilk, maybe some good, old-fashioned head-cracking will be necessary to restore order.
To be clear, there’s no indication Gauvin has actually engaged in any of this behavior. There’s just a strong indication from his postings that he’d like to.
A smart person might be inclined to conceal his darker fantasies from public view, recognizing that spreading them across the web could result in somebody noticing and alerting his superiors (in Gauvin’s case that turned out to be Mainer, a muckraking magazine based in Portland). A smart person might have recognized that expressing views directly contradictory to the responsibilities of his job would call into question whether he had the mental capacity to perform his duties. A smart person might have considered the implications of his words and actions and avoided getting himself into a mess like this.
The unavoidable conclusion is that Gauvin is not a smart person.
For this reason alone, he should be removed from his position without delay. This can be accomplished in whatever manner is most expeditious, either by his resignation (unfortunately, that’s only likely to happen if there’s some sort of financial settlement) or his firing (unfortunately, that’s likely to result in a lawsuit).
Either way, his absence will result in the average intelligence of denizens of the Statehouse going up.
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