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Evil *and* stupid! Yay!

Posted by Robin Abrahams  November 3, 2008 01:41 PM

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'cause there's nothing I like more than a good twofer when both the heart and the head are in the wrong place!

If you haven't been sealed up in a media-free hermetic room this weekend--and if you have, my deepest congratulations on your good sense--you've probably heard about Shirley Nagel of Grosse Pointe Farms, Michigan, who denied candy to trick-or-treaters who said they, or their parents, supported Obama. (The second link is a two-minute video news segment, which you really ought to watch; sorry I haven't yet plumbed the arcane mysteries of embedding video.)

nagel.jpg

Well, Ms. Nagel, you pathetic excuse for a human being, congratulations on outdoing the Grinch. It was only his heart that was three sizes too small; your brain appears to suffer from the same condition as well. Do you think this is going to endear your candidate, your "values", to anyone? Or is it going to reinforce the very worst of conservative stereotypes? Are the wee Obama supporters likely to leave your doorstep with the desire to re-examine their own political orientation, or are they likely to do so with the belief that yes, Republicans are mean and uncaring and we'd better get them out of office? And the wee McCain supporters--are you teaching them cooperation and good strategic thinking, or us-them demonization of the opponent? No politician could even afford your stupid, selfish attitude; if you're not willing to pass a little candy across the aisle, good luck getting your initiatives implemented.

One of the Miss Conduct principles is "be a good advertisement for your beliefs": If you were the only Republican, Red Sox fan, feminist, stay-at-home mother, Trekkie, Buddhist that people knew, what would their opinion of Republicans, Red Sox fans, feminists, stay-at-home mothers, Trekkies, Buddhists be?

Ms. Nagel, you have failed that test rather spectacularly.

If I were Senator McCain--well, at this point I'd be rather consumed with other matters and giddy from sleep deprivation, as all the candidates presumably are. I hardly expect him to do anything about this, although it would have been one holy firecracker of a PR opportunity. But if I did have time for a response, here's what I'd do. I would send a pound bag of M&Ms to every household with children in Ms. Nagel's neighborhood, and a note that read:

Dear Trick-or-Treater,

I recently learned that one of your neighbors and my supporters, Ms. Shirley Nagel, refused to give candy to trick-or-treaters who said that they or their parents support Senator Obama for president.

I'm sorry and embarrassed about that, and regardless of who your family plans to vote for, I hope you'll accept these M&Ms by way of apology.

Ms. Nagel wanted to help me, but she went about it in a very bad way. Maybe you've tried to help someone once, and ended up making things worse. Or maybe you have a brother or sister who did something really awful and then said it was your idea. Or maybe you have a friend who sometimes acts like a complete jerk and embarrasses you.

If you've ever been in any of those situations, you probably know how I feel right now.

Enjoy the M&Ms. My vision for America is a place with strong and friendly communities and neighborhoods, where even people who disagree can work together to make important things--like Halloween--happen for the good of all. If you don't eat M&Ms, maybe you could share them with your friends instead. Or better yet, maybe you could share them with someone you don't actually like that much. You probably won't become best friends after that, but at least it won't be so bad if you have to work on a project together or be on the same soccer team. Sometimes that's as good as it gets.

Whoever your parents are voting for, make sure they do get to the polls on Tuesday, okay?

Sincerely,

Senator John McCain

I'm no campaign strategist and there are probably all kinds of things wrong with this particular idea. (And, like, he wouldn't want to send peanut M&Ms, or he'd probably hit a house with a peanut allergy and make the problem a thousand times worse.) But something along those lines?

You betcha.

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About Miss Conduct
Welcome to Miss Conduct’s blog, a place where the popular Boston Globe Magazine columnist Robin Abrahams and her readers share etiquette tips, unravel social conundrums, and gossip about social behavior in pop culture and the news. Have a question of your own? Ask Robin using this form or by emailing her at missconduct@globe.com.
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Who is Miss Conduct?

Robin Abrahamswrites the weekly "Miss Conduct" column for The Boston Globe Magazine and is the author of Miss Conduct's Mind over Manners. Robin has a PhD in psychology from Boston University and also works as a research associate at Harvard Business School. Her column is informed by her experience as a theater publicist, organizational-change communications manager, editor, stand-up comedian, and professor of psychology and English. She lives in Cambridge with her husband Marc Abrahams, the founder of the Ig Nobel Prizes, and their socially challenged but charismatic dog, Milo.

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Curious if you should say "bless you" to a sneezing atheist? How to host a dinner party for carbophobes, vegans, and Atkins disciples—all at the same time? The finer points of regifting? Ask it here, or email missconduct@globe.com.

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