Time to Punch Back Against the Bullies

A passenger is removed from a United Airlines flight in Miami, on March 17, 2021. The Federal Aviation Administration logged a record 5,981 reports of unruly passenger behavior last year—more than 70% involving passengers refusing to comply with well-known and widely advertised face mask safeguards. (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA / AFP) (Photo by CHANDAN KHANNA/AFP via Getty Images)

By Pat Kreitlow

March 25, 2022

A new law increasing penalties for threatening healthcare workers in Wisconsin is a good start. From air travel to school boards, there’s more work to be done.

Please forgive the language, but bullies don’t respond well to niceties—so let’s tell it to them directly: We have had it up to here with assholery in our school board meetings, political debates, air travel, even hospitals and clinics.

The angry shouting, the interference with official duties, the threats of violence or even death—this needs to stop, and it is way past time for judges to make examples of those whose conduct goes against everything we were taught at home, in church, and by the rest of what’s left of a civilized world.

Just this week, UpNorthNews told the story of a school board meeting in Eau Claire earlier this month that required a police presence for the second time in six months because grown adults were behaving like spoiled children. Sadly, just hours after our story was published, the school board required police to be on hand again because of a death threat emailed to the board president.

(What was the angry mob protesting? That’s the point. When behavior turns disruptive or violent, it no longer matters what the core issue was.)

Some pushback is finally coming. Gov. Tony Evers this week signed a bill increasing the criminal penalty for threatening a healthcare worker or interfering with their efforts to save lives. The politicization of a deadly virus has made this era one of the darkest chapters of American history, and we eagerly await the first instance of someone facing newly-upgraded felony charges for dangerous conduct toward a doctor, nurse, or others working so hard to keep us healthy.

Airlines are long overdue to put violent passengers on a permanent no-fly list across all carriers. And even at the most basic level, our social media comment sections have become cesspools of behavior that could only be described in terms frequently used about a cesspool’s contents. We’re proud to have a quick trigger finger on deleting posts that go well beyond stating opinions and move into insults or misinformation.

Critics will call all of this cancel culture. That term means nothing. Call it what it is: overdue accountability. Legitimate peaceful protest has its place in our national conversation. But from rioting in the streets to threatening harm to the essential workers of this country, the people showing America at its worse deserve harsher penalties and whatever deterrents we can muster before they bully or harm again.


  • Pat Kreitlow

    The Founding Editor of UpNorthNews, Pat was a familiar presence on radio and TV stations in western Wisconsin before serving in the state Legislature. After a brief stint living in the Caribbean, Pat and wife returned to Chippewa Falls to be closer to their growing group of grandchildren. He now serves as UNN's chief political correspondent and host of UpNorthNews Radio, airing weekday mornings 6 a.m.-8 a.m on the Civic Media radio network and the UpNorthNews Facebook page.

CATEGORIES: Uncategorized


Local News

Related Stories
Share This