Festival board should stop bashing former Sea Goddess

By The Courier-Gazette Editorial Board | Oct 04, 2018

At the Sept. 25 meeting of the Maine Lobster Festival Board, board members and officials made some statements that were absolutely unacceptable.

This was the first public meeting the board had held since the 2018 Maine Lobster Festival. During this year's event, festival leaders forced Taylor Hamlin, age 18, to resign from her position as the Sea Goddess the day after the coronation because of some photos on social media of her holding a joint and a Juul device for using nicotine. It is perhaps comparable to a cigarette. We only offer specifics to avoid having readers assume she did something worse, based on the out-of-proportion comments from festival board members.

During the meeting, board member Peter Smith said, "We want the Goddess to have a certain amount of morality."

We would argue it is completely inappropriate to question Hamlin's morality, especially in a public meeting.

Board President Cynthia Powell raised the specter of the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court confirmation process, saying actions by teenagers can affect them later in life. Again, completely unacceptable. Hamlin's actions are in no way comparable to anything Kavanaugh has been accused of.

Powell is right that this incident may follow Hamlin for years to come, since it became national news, but Hamlin does not deserve any of this and did not bring it on herself.

In fact, Hamlin and her family have demonstrated their morality by taking the high road throughout this ordeal.

In a letter to the editor, the family wrote: "We strongly believe the Maine Lobster Festival is important, not only to our community, but to the State as well. Bashing the people who have worked hard to organize this event is not a solution. .. .We ask all of our supporters to be considerate of those who have put a lifetime commitment into this event."

It is pretty clear to us who has the moral high ground here. We urge the festival board members and other officials and volunteers: if you cannot admit this mistake, at the very least, stop criticizing the former Sea Goddess.

We support the proposal to explore changes to the pageant. A talent show or competition aimed at naming an ambassador for the lobster industry may make sense, though it needs to be fleshed out. The idea of being inclusive of more than one gender should certainly be considered.

Most of all, the pageant needs to be changed so that those running the event in the future understand that they have no right to delve into or judge the personal lives of the contestants.

The best way to make next year's event a success would be to start listening to the community. The festival will need its support.


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