I was dismayed to read in the article on Feb. 11 that a citizen had been ejected from a legislative public hearing by Sen. James Hamper, chairman of the Appropriations Committee (“Panel hears testimony on budget”). According to the article, the hearing became heated at times and apparently unruly with some members of the audience cheering, laughing and jeering. Hamper stated he could clear the room. Instead he chose to order one person from the room, our family friend Mary, a 20-year-old honor student from University of Maine, for allegedly “making a face.” He stated, “You out, go good-bye, see you later, not welcome here. I won’t take faces and I won’t take the comments back here, got it? You’re an example. Out.”

The need to maintain order in a public hearing is a given so that all can have their voices heard. However, it is dismaying and concerning that within that unruly crowd Hamper chose to make “an example” of only a young woman and tell her she was “not welcome” in our legislative process for having the alleged audacity to “make a face.” Mary made the effort to draft testimony, missed a day of school, traveled to Augusta from Orono, and sat for five hours waiting for an opportunity to speak her concerns to our elected representatives.

Mary is an example — she is an example of the millions of women who are choosing to become more engaged in our political process to ensure that their voices are heard at a time when angry and ignorant men have taken over the Blaine House and the White House. Hamper’s comments to, and focus on, one young woman is an example of why millions of women, and men, around the world took to the streets recently.

Theresa Kavanah

Readfield

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