Republican Florida Rep. Matt Gaetz is a young congressman who represents the northwest portion of his state, and he hasn’t been the least bit shy about his support for President Donald Trump and Trump’s agenda.
As such, Gaetz has taken tremendous fire from anti-Trump liberals and progressives, and while the abuse he receives typically comes from immature adults who can’t handle ideological differences, that sort of behavior appears to have trickled down to the middle school level now … that is, until mom sees what happened.
According to Mediaite, Gaetz visited the Shoal River Middle School in Crestview, Florida, on Tuesday to speak with students about civics and government. Afterward, he posed for a selfie with all of the gathered students in the background.
While most of the students were smiling and waving or making goofy poses, one young girl in the front row defiantly flipped the bird toward the congressman. Perhaps without initially noticing the extended middle finger, Gaetz posted the photo to his Facebook page.
But the bird-flipping sixth-grader drew plenty of notice from others, including a woman in the comment section of the post who claimed to be the girl’s very disappointed mother.
“As the mother of the little girl very disrespectfully flipping the ‘bird’, I will be dealing with her at home tonight!” posted the user named Angela Marie. “I absolutely have raised her better than this, and I promise this will NEVER happen again!”
“I have been dealing with her wanting to ‘fit in’ and I promise you, I am livid. Political views aside, this is completely unacceptable. Mr. Gaetz, I apologize on behalf of my daughter. I am very sorry this occurred,” the mother added.
The “political views aside” portion of her comment would seem to imply that the mother was not necessarily a supporter of Gaetz, but regardless of their ideological differences, she nevertheless realized that it was not acceptable for her sixth-grade daughter to be flipping off a member of Congress.
For his part, Gaetz took the whole thing in stride and issued a kind and understanding reply to the mother concerned over her daughter’s behavior.
“Her congressman has also had an occasional lapse of judgement as a middle schooler,” said Gaetz in the comments. “Teaching moments like this are a good thing. I had a lovely time with the students.”
Gaetz was asked about the bird-flipping incident by the NWF Daily News and laughed it off as no big deal when he stated, “It’s certain to occur again.”
“As a middle school student I’m sure I had plenty of lapses in judgment that were far more severe than this one,” Gaetz continued. “We’ve all been middle schoolers, we all know what the wonder years are like. I don’t know if she would choose that particular method in the future, but I’m not really someone who criticizes how they express themselves.”
The congressman also revealed that he had no intentions of taking the post down despite the prominent display of an extended middle finger, as he reiterated that he viewed it as a larger “teaching moment,” and added with a chuckle, “You never know what’s going to happen on Open Gaetz Day,” the name he has given his tours of the district.
Kudos to Gaetz for the classy way in which he responded to the immature and rude gesture sent his way by a sixth-grade student, but even bigger kudos go to the girl’s mother who stepped up and apologized to the congressman for her child’s inappropriate behavior.
If only more parents would hold an attitude like that in regard to their children’s behavior — even if it is aimed at someone they disagree with — the nation would be a much more civil and understanding place.
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