Friday, August 01, 2008

Middletown Human Rights Commission takes on issue of race

Last night, at the Middletown Township Municipal Building, at a meeting of the Middletown Human Rights Commission, the body condemned the July 17 post of an area blogger that included the n-word.

The event was attended by presidents of three branches of the NAACP, as well as about 22 township residents. There was a lot of input about the use of the n-word. According to the commission, the meeting was convened at the request of the mayor of the township, Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger, who was not in attendance during the session.

The body allowed me to speak, as The Courier and its alleged ongoing affiliation with the site that included use of the n-word was an issue in front of the commission. I made it clear to the commission that The Courier is a family friendly newspaper that has never, and will never include racial slurs in the context of any written content of the newspaper.

I offered my belief to the body, which is that the n-word or any racial slur is terrible. In particular, the n-word is a representation of violence in language, reminiscent of a tragic past. To evoke the n-word is to recreate the violence and hatred of the past. To do this, and then hold a reasonable conversation with regards to race is, in my opinion, impossible.

There was a great deal of input from the public last night, and it was very productive and positive, to my view. Middletown's lack of diversity demographically did not prevent the Human Rights Commission from making a call that stood up for what is right, family friendly and positive in this community and every community.

My thanks to township Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger for referring this matter to the commission, since otherwise this issue could not have been a matter of public discussion in Middletown. In the beginning of the meeting, which took place at 7:30 p.m., there was a feeling by the commission that Courier had some kind of culpability in the use of this word. However, upon closer examination, the commission was satisfied that the newspaper had done everything in its power to distance itself from the offending material. In addition, Deputy Police Chief Eugene Hannafey, who sits on the committee, lauded Courier's efforts to get this dialogue into the public, and that thanks is greatly appreciated.

In general, those in attendance were very appreciative. I truly thank everyone for coming and supporting the issue and, in this case, the newspaper and its work. Thank you very much.

No comments: