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1348 - Heal Up and Hair Over - can`t we get along?

         Why don’t you just heal up and hair over!”


         That is the theme of a state Humanities Council booklet, which was distributed at an event in Cheyenne attended by more than 600 people from all over Wyoming.

This unusual Wyoming-oriented expression was attributed by Pete Simpson of Cody to author John Perry Barlow of Pinedale. It refers to how a calf is upset when branded by a hot iron but ultimately “heals up and hairs over.”

In human terms, this means that we need to patch ourselves up after fights and work together. Such civility was the theme of the Wyoming Business Alliance forum hosted by Gov. Matt Mead and presided over by Bill Schilling.

         Two legislators offered some of the best civility insights.

Former Democrat Legislator Debbie Hammons, Worland, shared her Goofy George story about a dim cowhand who refused to hit back at the fellow who was pounding him.

         When asked why, George said: “He was already so darned mad. I didn’t want to make him any madder.”

She recalled how angry she was early in her legislative career when a fellow legislator’s spouse said, “If you are a Democrat, you are either evil or stupid.”

       “Doesn’t this person know we don’t say things like that here? This is the contrast between what my expectations were for basic Wyoming manners – the manners I grew up with and during my years on the UW Board of Trustees. This new way of behaving was just beginning during my last term.

      “It’s been my experience that you better be respectful of the folks you live or work with because you never know when you’ll need help. I was unprepared to deal with aggressive rudeness and so I did what someone from Wyoming would do – I made a joke, our way of turning the other cheek. 

      “However, that lack of civility planted a seed of anger in me that will not go away – unless I choose to let it,” she concluded. 

In other words, heal up and hair over.

House Speaker Tom Lubnau of Gillette recounted how a Cheyenne Legislator was bombarded with some of the vilest and threatening emails and letters he had ever seen. Rep. Lynn Hutchings, who is female and African-American, was attacked for being involved in some controversial issues.

Lubnau took to the podium to denounce the lack of civility.

“I said, in reference to the people who wrote these e-mails, that we should remember that those who sit in front of their computers in the middle of the night in their underwear are not necessarily political pundits.

           “Apparently, there are legitimate political pundits who sit in front of their computer in the middle of the night in their underwear and send e-mails.

         “A radio station out west, relying upon a blogger, separated the first part of my comments from the last.  A small group who heard the second half protested.   They posted blogs asking folks to write their opinions of me on their underwear. 

“You have to love a state where people will send me their underwear.  This great 2013 panty protest contains lessons about these times:

          “First, with the internet and its perceived anonymity, civility becomes a casualty. I’ve been told they would find me swinging from a tree if I didn’t support a bill.   My wife was not impressed when a Republican official posted on a social media site where he wished Tom Lubnau and his family would die and go to hell.  

“Second, in an era of electronic communication, people in their underwear sitting in front of computers have access to the masses.   Once, access to thousands of people belonged to just newspapers and television.   Now, with the click of a mouse, a message can be sent to thousands.    Folks can pick and choose their news, from the media or from bloggers.  

          “There are no ethics with bloggers, and so information shared may not be accurate.   We now have a new cottage industry of conflict merchants – folks who share information – often inaccurate – and then ask for donations.”  

What did Lubnau do with the underwear sent to him?

“I had security dispose of them. Not sure I wanted those garments hanging around the Capitol. ”

If you get a chance, locate a copy of the Heal Up, Hair Over brochure by Wyoming Humanities Council. Thanks to their chairmen, Tom Rea, Dave Reetz and Rex Myers, for leadership on this project. The booklet is full of civility wisdom by state and national leaders. Good stuff.