It’s Personal, LePage

In another salvo by government against organized labor, Governor Paul LePage of Maine has recently seen fit to singlehandedly (and quite possibly illegally) take down a mural in Maine’s Department of Labor building depicting the history of Maine labor.

It was taken down secretly and is currently hidden in an undisclosed location. Apparently images of shoemakers, paper mill workers striking, and Rosies Riveting have been deemed “too one-sided in favor of unions,” according to The New York Times. What might be more worrisome to parents and children everywhere—and, especially, me—is that this mural has a panel depicting child labor, in a manner that might suggest that perhaps children are better off not laundering, hauling, and dragging buckets around. I wonder if “child labor” is one of the old-timey customs that our friends in the GOP are looking to revive? It kinda makes sense if you consider the many-pronged right-wing/religious assault on contraception and abortion. More unwanted kids + crumbling school system + need to bring back American manufacturing at Chinese pay rates = another golden age of Kids at Work? Who cares if they die in mineshafts or go blind or get rickets? There’ll be more coming.

My personal interest in this story is that my own daughter is in the child labor panel. In the clip above, at 1:35, she’s the one forlornly sticking her head out and holding a bucket with one hand. Let me assure you, this was just pretend. She’s never had to perform any labor in her life, except for going to school and the occasional “fun” chore, which might make her far too soft to compete in the 21st century, because I should apparently be cracking the whip and making her compute pi to the nth degree and/or master a musical instrument not of her choice and/or make her work off some of her keep crawling into tiny sewage tunnels or making very delicate lace with her wee fingers. I practice a different sort of “free time” parenting which allows for a lot of lying in one’s bed reading and making up things with one’s friends, which produces people just… like… me. Uh-oh. Maybe that Tiger Lady does have a point.

The mural’s fate remains to be seen but, if the Department of Labor must have a more “neutral” decor (might I suggest some vinyl wallcovering in a pattern of dusty rose and dirty teal flowers, perhaps, with some fake ficus trees?), I’m sure it will find another, more welcoming home. Although I can’t really think of a better place for a mural depicting Maine history than the Maine Department of Labor. Maybe I’m just too literal that way.

Mary Valle lives in Baltimore and is the author of Cancer Doesn't Give a Shit About Your Stupid Attitude: Reflections on Cancer and Catholicism. She blogs on KtB as The Communicant. For more Mary, check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.