What Kirby Delauter Really Showed Me

kirbydelauter182wAlong with the rest of Frederick County, not to mention what must have been millions of people across our state, the country, and even around world, I was shocked to hear about what some are now referring to as the “Kirby Delauter Effect.”

For those who have been vacationing on Jupiter and might have missed it, last week former county commissioner and now county council member Kirby Delauter threatened to sue Frederick News Post reporter, Bethany Rodgers, and/or the newspaper, if it published his name again without his expressed permission.

Among other things, in a Facebook post, in which he “tagged” the reporter, the Republican official said:

“So let me be clear…………do not contact me and do not use my name or reference me in an unauthorized form in the future.” and “Use my name again unauthorized and you’ll be paying for an attorney.”

To the amazement of, well, everyone, an image of the comments (below), including the outstanding reply from the reporter, went viral, and in a big way.

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Blogs and news outlets and Facebook and Twitter users the world over went nuts for this story, including major media players such as the Washington Post, Time, Huffington Post, NPR, BBC, Fox News, and a very long list of others.

To be fair, a few days later, Mr. Delauter apologized for his mistake, saying that, as an elected official, the newspaper has a right to print his name and acknowledging that his statement to the Frederick News-Post regarding the use of his name “was wrong and inappropriate.”

People lose their cool on occasion and we all say things we wish we hadn’t. I get it. We all get that.

The incident, however, prompted me to read a little more about our new county council.

I consider myself a reasonably informed citizen. As a mother, a PTA Vice President, a Volunteer Coordinator and math tutor, I’ve paid attention to county decisions, particularly in the areas of education, development and the environment. I’m aware of some of the nuts and bolts, but apparently I didn’t know as much about the character and personality of some of our elected representatives.

In the hours and days after the Kirby Delauter story went viral, it was no surprise that I saw many iterations of it in my Facebook newsfeed.

I visited one group page that focuses on local government, where I read some comments asserting that the Delauter story would never have made news in the first place if he wasn’t a Republican.

Thinking that a fairly ridiculous opinion, I responded that elected officials threatening to sue their own hometown paper for mentioning their names just isn’t done. And that is “why it is news.”

We expect our elected representatives to understand the basics of the First Amendment.

One of the first replies to my comment accused “liberals” of having “pea-assed-brains” and being “Marxist pukes”. The poster went on to thank God that the “liberal pukes” didn’t have the power. Oh…remarkably…he also said that liberals don’t give credence to God.

Something so sophomoric — and silly or ugly, depending on your point of view — might normally have some brief entertainment value in my home. But that was before I saw that Councilman Kirby Delauter LIKED that particular comment.

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Huh?

Surely Councilman Delauter knows there are many supporters and others living in his district who are not part of the hard core fringe where such comments are acceptable…or normal.

And he must understand that as a member of the county council he was elected to represent and serve his entire district — the residents and taxpayers and voters across the spectrum between the far left and the far right.

Of course, I’ve seen politicians — as candidates and elected officials — say pretty rude things about their opponents. Unfortunate, certainly, even if not unusual. But I have never seen a local elected official so casually insult the people they represent.

It also seems like bad politics. But perhaps Kirby Delauter doesn’t care about that, either? Based on what I’ve heard and read since all this happened, it may be that one reason this episode drew local interest, and got some early traction, is that it’s consistent with other denigrating and disrespectful things he has said and done since first elected a little more than four years ago.

All of us –- conservatives, moderate Republicans and Democrats, independents and progressives alike –- comprise the beautiful community that is Frederick County.

And we ALL deserve more respect and better treatment than that. I’d like to think that, in the future, we will see better behavior from those who represent us, including the good citizens of District 5.