I just wanted to let you all know that since my testimony objecting to the Public Gag Bill, HB1159, was sent to the House Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee I was contacted via email by Vice Chair Rep. Beth Rodd. She thought I needed to be told to “have compassion” and to “be kind”…
So here’s how this went:
” Sat 2/1/2020 8:24 PM From: Beth Rodd
Certainly you must distinguish between a criticism of public servants and a threat to their lives or threats to members of their families. I don’t think we serve at $100 a year (before taxes) to endure the sort of abuse experienced by our colleagues. Have compassion. We are all doing the best we can. We may have different views but we all deserve to be safe. Be kind.”
So of course I replied … and in very kind way, I might add… :
” Dear Rep. Rodd,
In response to your email…
If you feel threatened then file a police report. If you don’t feel safe call the police.
Words can’t hurt you unless you let them.
And by the way, with all due respect, I don’t mind saying that the verbal and physical abuse coming from your side of the aisle is really something you folks need to deal with and clean up. So please don’t preach to me about “being kind”.
Take a look at the utter nastiness being posted on social media by your colleagues. It’s actually quite appalling to see this coming from elected representatives.
Rep. Le using the “F” word for religious and public school participants… Rep. Frost and her vile language Twitter rants… Rep. Tim Smith jumping out of his seat and screaming at Rep. Flanagan speaking at the well during session… Rep. Deb Stevens and her absurd blanket characterization of gun owners on Facebook posts… Rep. Roger’s assaulting an old lady who supports gun rights…Do you know the abuse Rep. Abbas and his family and others received as a result of Rep. Altschiller’s obnoxious and uncalled for tweets to her red shirt friends? Oh… I could go on. So please spare me the “be kind” mantra. Look in your own back yard.
Yes, we’re a volunteer legislature.. that has little bearing on anything here though.
There is no place in the legislature or public service for the ugliness we’ve seen dished out all year on social media, especially by the sponsors of this bill! If people are getting blowback then they need to look in the mirror and figure out why that is… but don’t think you’re going to ban free speech or shut down websites because your friends don’t want to have their nastiness and poor behavior exposed by other people.
Be kind? Have compassion? Perhaps your colleagues should practice what you preach.”
To which Rep. Rodd again replied to me,
” Rep. Aron,
Thank you for responding. To clarify my comments, I was referring to all of us, not one side or the other. “Us” includes both sides. I am very concerned by the lack of civility in society in general and in the legislature. I’ve been around, off and on since 1998. Most people in leadership have been around for a long time as well and both R’s and D’s are concerned by the anger and hostility that we see today. Social media is a huge part of the problem but except for checking in on friends and family, I don’t have a presence. People post atrocious things that they would not say in person. I don’t know what the answer is but would love to have lunch with you and discuss this further. It’s no way for adults to behave.
Best, Beth Rodd”
Let’s do lunch??
I think I am the wrong person she should be having lunch with to solve this problem.
Now, I think Rep. Rodd is probably a very nice well meaning lady, but perhaps Rep. Rodd should be inviting the sponsors of this bill (HB1159) to lunch to explain to them that their poor behavior and vile words are unbecoming of State Representatives and that others will be watching and reporting on them.
She might want to tell them that if you park your car in a handicapped spot with no handicapped tags, you are going to be called out on it. If you post “F” bombs to religious and private school families on Social media then you will be called out on it. If you lie on Twitter, about why people wear pearls at anti-gun bill hearings, in order to spark outrage and encourage harassment by your Anti-2A Red Shirted minions to your opponents, then your lie will be exposed and harassment will be returned to you. Indeed the actions and words of the sponsors of HB1159 are no way for adults to behave!!
So Rep. Rodd…. You don’t know what the answer is?
I know what the answer is… it is to act like an adult in and out of chambers and on social media and to understand that people are watching and reporting what elected officials say and do.
I know what the answer isn’t too….. it isn’t promoting legislation, like HB1159, that seeks to shut down people’s voices, websites or social media posts because some people, particularly those who are acting badly, don’t like that they are being called out or ridiculed! Rep. Rodd, you should be voting ITL on HB1159 unless you are also planning to ban the sponsors of this bill from saying the vile things that they have been saying on social media. The First Amendment shouldn’t be shredded because adults acting badly can’t accept the blowback they get from their bad behavior or vile social media posts!
And by the way, this isn’t limited to bad behavior… it includes all the absurd legislation being proposed… like HB1159.
FYI – The Exec Session for this bill happens 2/5/20 at 1 PM in Room 204 LOB in Criminal Justice and Public Safety.