The New Hampshire General Court can sometimes be a colorful place with all kinds of "every man"-types elected to office. In many cases, it doesn't take a ton of votes to win a house seat. As well, our Legislature is the largest one in the United States and the fourth largest English-speaking political body in the world. Meaning it is quite populist and open to all kinds of different people and opinions.
So it's not surprising when, every once in a while, a kinda "crazy" person, no pun intended, wins a seat and then, shoots his mouth off.
This is what seems to have happened to Martin Harty, a now former state representative, who suggested that the mentally ill be sent to Siberia: ["Barrington state Rep. Harty resigns in wake of 'Siberia' remark"].
At 91, we have to wonder if Harty was, well, all there, when he made the comments or even, when he decided to run. However, this week, Harty submitted a letter to the Concord Monitor explaining his off-the-cuff remarks: ["My little joke got out of hand"].
Now, folks can challenge whether or not this is true and whether or not this story was all about nothing (they have in the online comments). One could imagine that Harty was truly overwhelmed that day, had had enough and decided to be a wise-ass, old coot. More than 66,000 Google searches later, Harty is a household name for politicos. At the same time, we've also all seen this happen before, when advocates and lobbyists go completely insane over their pet issues. But really, whether anyone likes it or not, we have progressed as a society where we just don't make jokes about the mentally ill anymore. Even when a crazy old man is spouting off stuff.
In the end, we can all presume that it makes a bit of sense to watch what we say especially when we have the privilege to serve the public in the general court.