The antics of a few Knox County Republicans stealing a poster from a classroom at King Middle School in Portland during their caucus last weekend have provoked a wave of response from around the state.

The news (see story by Stephen Betts on page 1) that these delegates from Knox County rifled through papers belonging to a teacher was reprehensible. That they left their own calling card affixed to the door in the form of a bumper sticker and then photographed posters in the classroom created by students and posted them on Facebook because they disagreed with the content of those posters was childish.

When we raise our children, one of the first rules of the road, which falls directly from the Ten Commandments, is “you shall not steal.” Those commandments are the moral underpinnings holding our society together, and upon which our laws are built.

The Republican delegates had the previous day overwhelming surprised the state by successfully introducing a platform that outlined what the party endorses, or opposes. Such a bold move was commendable because it provided the public with a strong idea of what party candidates believe. This is important as the 2010 voting season increases in intensity. The public deserves to know where political candidates stand on issues; the candidates should not slip behind vagaries.

It was disappointing to learn that an event transpired that was serious enough to warrant an apology from the state Republican Party chairman about the classroom incident and even more disappointing to learn it was members of the Knox County delegation who had been guests in that classroom. Supporters of those delegates may attempt to mitigate what happened, basing their complaints on what is being taught in that particular classroom. That is a weak, insubstantial response.

We are fortunate in Maine to have respected public processes and procedures, but they constantly and consistently need recognition and defense. When one has a complaint about curriculum being taught, one should communicate with the teacher, principal, superintendent and school board. One should not remove material from the classroom, or touch a teacher’s papers.

These are the rules we teach our children from the earliest age. Do not touch that which is not yours. Do not denigrate your host or your host’s home. Control your temper and abide by the rules of process. If you mess up, apologize.

Those who profess familiarity with the Ten Commandments do well to remember that the Bible says that God shows steadfast love to the thousandth generation of those who keep his commandments.

Absentee ballots

In recent years political parties and candidates have encouraged their supporters to use absentee ballots to register their preferences as early as possible. Incidents such as the one described above underscore the need for responsible citizens to take the time to gather as much information as possible before casting their votes. With 25 days remaining until the polls open, we encourage those who choose to use an absentee ballot to wait as long as possible before making a final decision.