Friday, March 18, 2011

No laughing matter

The good people of the state of Kansas should waste no time in throwing out a state representative who suggested that a good way to control the nation's population of illegal immigrants would be to engage a method used to control feral hogs: hunters shooting them from helicopters.

When other elected officials expressed outrage at the remarks, Rep. Virgil Peck said he was just joking. At first, he was unapologetic, but later apologized. He also said he thought the whole thing would blow over quickly.

Only Peck's immediate resignation could make it go away.

The issue of illegal immigration in the U.S. is a tinderbox in some places and Peck's "joke" was the kind of remark that could ignite it.

It's no laughing matter to suggest the wholesale slaughter of an entire class of people. It shouldn't be dismissed lightly.

The contrast between Peck's status as an elected official and the status of illegal immigrants couldn't be starker.

Threats on the lives of public officials are taken seriously, often investigated by law enforcement and prosecuted as crimes. Public officials who've received threats sometimes receive police protection until perceived dangers subside.

What kind of protection do illegal immigrants have against such threats, even if made in "jest"? They live in fear of deportation in a country that has failed to enact programs to easily document essential immigrant workers or to enforce existing laws to prevent companies from employing workers here illegally.

Peck's defense of his remarks as hick humor should not stand. Such reprehensible speech by anyone in a position of public trust should not be excused.

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