Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Roberts: James' comments 'unbecoming'

Mecklenburg County commissioners Chair Jennifer Roberts (pictured at right) urged the board Tuesday to be more civil in their discussions during the upcoming year, while admonishing one board member for remarks she deemed "callous, hurtful and unnecessary."

While Roberts did not name the commissioner by name, her talk appeared to be clearly aimed at commissioner Bill James, who drew criticism for a brief exchange with commissioner Vilma Leake during a Dec. 15 discussion on domestic partner benefits. Read more about that here.

Below is the full text of Roberts' prepared remarks, which she asked clerk Janice Paige to enter into the minutes of the meeting.

"This Board did not end its work very gracefully in 2009. I do not want to make a political statement by calling for a vote to censure a specific commissioner. The sad truth of our society is that many believe that because of the First Amendment, they have a right to say prejudiced and hateful things, anywhere they want, without apology.

But the behavior displayed on December 15, 2009, was unbecoming of an elected representative and leader of the people of Mecklenburg County. As was made clear in the reaction, it was callous, hurtful, and unnecessary.

I will use this as an opportunity to remind my fellow Board members that our conversation in public, whether before the cameras in our public meetings or in our public emails, goes beyond the principles of the First Amendment. There are certain words which are known to be inflammatory, hateful, bullying, and provocative, and they include terms we all recognize (the N word for African American, the B word for women, and the H word for gays and homosexuals). These names have no place in civil discourse.

Every commissioner on this board has a right to voice their views, and those views may be widely divergent from each other. However, I urge my colleagues to seek to hold our discourse to the principles of civility, human decency, and mutual respect, and that the use of slurs, inflammatory language, curses, name calling, etc. represents behavior unbecoming of a member serving on this board, here in the most populous county in the great state of North Carolina. Words matter and attitudes matter, and I expect each member of this board to respect the worth and dignity of every other member and of every citizen who appears before us or who voices their concerns by letter or email. Each of us has been duly elected to serve selflessly the citizens of this county, and in a democracy there is no greater responsibility than this.

I have high hopes for 2010. I believe that our economy has turned the corner, and that together we as a Board can meet the budgetary and policy challenges ahead with collaboration, innovation, integrity, inclusion, hard work and at times, useful disagreement. But disagreement for the sake of demeaning ones opponent is not useful. As your Chairman for 2010, I will fulfill my duty to shepherd our discussions toward substantive debate to pursue policies and initiatives that are in the best interests of all our citizens, regardless of gender, race, religion, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, ethnicity, or age. By practicing mutual respect and civil discourse among ourselves, we can forge a path forward to a realization that we are one community, bound by a common destiny, and we will succeed or fail together. We look forward to a peaceful, prosperous, and productive 2010." -- Jennifer Roberts, chairman, Mecklenburg Board of County Commissioners


Freddy said...

What a classy woman Jennifer Roberts is and has always been. However, to expect Bill James to change is futile, like expecting pigs to fly. He demonstrates repeatedly a personality and demeanor that is brutish, churlish, ignorant and cruel. He revels in controversy and shockingly insensitive statements, no matter who he may hurt. One could say he speaks before he thinks, but that would offer a partial excuse for what is inexcusable behavior.

The real disgrace is how a man like that continues to get himself elected, continues to sully this County and this Board. Anyone who voted for him should be ashamed and appalled. Anyone who defends him should know better. There are standards of behavior, including for elected officials, to which any decent person should adhere. Bill James apparently lacks the gene for simple human decency.

Anonymous said...

all of this is silly

the real question is

did jennifer vote on this because of what the voters she represents really wanted her to do or because of her kids situation?

it's called situational ethics, look into it.

Anonymous said...

How ignorant is this lady by comparing derogatory labels of women and homosexuals to African Americans? The N-word is more offensive than any word and should not be compared.

Furthermore, the H-word is the least offensive derogatory label to homosexuals. How about the F-word, Q-word, and a few more that are used?

I believe African Americans deserve an apology from Jennifer Roberts for belittling such harmful labels applied to these people during slavery and integration to degrade them based on the color of their skin.

I just don’t understand how these people continue to get by with comparing the treatment of homosexuals to African Americans.

Anonymous said...

She didn't say those words were equal, she said they don't have a place in civil discourse. Our leaders shouldn't be calling people names. I wouldn't think this would be a difficult point for people to understand.

Capital A said...

Anonymously Clueless, if you don't "get" the comparison of the denigration of one minority to that of another, then you are just as foolish as the knave who initiated this controversy. Blacks are not better than any other person, obviously including any other minority. It's your failed thinking (or lack thereof) which creates the Jameses of this world, regardless of their skin color.

If I were as ignorant as your posting portrays you as, I would sign "anonymous" to every document required of me as well.

Anonymous said...

"the N word is the worst of them all"

please, all attacks are equally bad...don't claim you are the most mistreated...that does create more hate. all of the derogatory items are equally bad.

get over yourself....the apologies are long gone and the harm was generations ago on most all of this stuff anyways. The guilty parties that did it are gone and the victims are as well. grow up and get with the times.

Anonymous said...

Jennifer you are one ugly lesbo....


Velma's Dead Son

Anonymous said...

Like "Capital A" is not anonymous. Then again,if I had my guess I could tell you what it most likely stands for.

If you are so worried about other anonymous posters, please give us your name, address and phone number. Otherwise, quit your condesending critique of others. These postings are OPINIONS, yours is not the only one that matters.

Anonymous said...

Anon 1:38

All derogatory labels are not equal. Maybe you disagree, but that is how it is.

Regarding mistreatment, I believe African Americans were treated far worse than homosexuals currently. With that said, there is no comparison of African American's treatment to Jews or Native Americans historically speaking. Therefore, African American's should never compare their treatment to those groups as that would be ignorant.

Point is, words and actions hold different values in our society whether you like it or not.

I can go into further detail if necessary.

Anonymous said...

The real irony was that a Universalist-Unitarian guru who showed up to speak in favor of homosexuals said to the Commission: "They're Here, They're Queer....

Yet, Jennifer, Vilma and the rest didn't say a word of condemnation.

This is more about who was talking (a conservative Republican) than about what was said. If the Democrats were so highly offended why did they sit there while this preacher called Vilma's son (in effect), a queer?

Anonymous said...


native americans were butchered by the thousands and grouped onto the worst land in the USA. they have never recovered and their society is all but dead except for shameful and sad casinos.

african americans are a vibrant and wonderful part of our culture and country now. we even have one for our president. how is this one group further mistreated. another example is jews, they were killed by the thousands as well. your arguments are insane. cease and desist with the victim mentality that you have and love this country and people in it. it's the best place on earth to be.

Anonymous said...

I am very proud of Jennifer Roberts, but much harsher sanctions should have been put on that horrible bastard Bill James. He had caused harm for many people and will burn in the living pits of eternal hellfire for what he has done. Damnation be on him and any that bring this kind of hatred and disgust.

Anonymous said...

We see that the south charlotte eletists are here to continue what Bill James left off by now attempting to slur and slander lesbians. I wish they would just stay down in their ballantyne bubble and rot.

Anonymous said...

Bill James should feel like the fool he is now by being made to move and sit between two other people, just like a school child made to sit somewhere to control his bad behavior. Good! He deserves worse punishment for his vile and contemptuous remarks.

Anonymous said...

To: Bill James and his supporters on here

I'm buring in hell. Wish you were here. See you all soon!


Capital A said...

Anon 1:44, your first attempt at a sentence was almost cogent. I look forward to your potentially future, successful attempts at discourse. Maybe in the future you can focus on the issue I was addressing, rather than the slight I used to underline your or the previous Anon's ignorance.

Bill James is a moronic boor elected by those who overlook his racism because he expresses the bile they even are too cowardly to do for himself. Lucky for those he represents, he isn't brave either, just so self-loathing that he pays no heed to public decorum or manners.

That fact is proven by his repeated appearances in the "news" which are hardly ever for positive reasons or any accomplishment of his own.

Why are many of you deflecting from the real issue by trying to measure hurt which can hardly be scientifically measured? If a majority of you are such jackanapes that you can't understand why James' comments are abhorrent, then no wonder our society is in such a fractured state.

Capital A said...

Anon 2:47,

I live in Ballantyne and if you look at my previous comments and defense of decency, I think you will see, if you care to investigate, that not everyone who lives in that area matches your expressed stereotype. What you said is just as ignorant as the simian who caused this issue.

I'm also a white male, raised Southern Baptist and even attended a Freewill Baptist church for awhile. Decent people are everywhere and in all shades. Bill James just does not happen to be one of them.

And the only way I figured that out was when he opened his mouth...

Anonymous said...

Anon 2:42

FYI, if you are replying to Anon 1:57’s comments, then you are on the same page. No need to debate when you are in agreement.

Anonymous said...

Would it have been offensive if James made the same statement, but instead of saying “homo” said homosexual? Do you know if he intended to use a derogatory term, oppose to an abbreviation of homosexual?

Anonymous said...

By God, he DID intend to use 'homo', just as he said it: as slur against gays. He could have said homosexual, but he did not. He damn well meant to say just what he said, and thought it was funny if you watch the tape back. Thank God Vilma blasted him where others could hear. You can see him turn red and begin to get the fear of God in him. I wish she would have slapped his damned face.

Capital A said...

Anon 3:36,

To me, Bill James either was not raised properly or refuses to acknowledge his fault. Some responders are playing dumb by pretending they don't use the term "homo" in derogatory term in their lives.

I have noticed this trend most in those who claim to be conservatives feign knowledge of the fact that words are racially charged or. If I am to believe their defense and they admit their ignorance of those issues, why can't conservatives speak...I don't know...more conservatively until they learn to properly communicate with those who seem different from themselves.

I use the word "seem" because if anyone takes the time to talk with "the other", especially those he or she claims most to despise, he or she quickly will realize we are not so different after all. I think that was one tangential message of a pretty important guy in sandals a long time ago in a galaxy, far, far away.

When a man insults others for no reason, even if unintentionally, it is tacit that man apologizes and seeks to understand why his actions were hurtful, rather than trying weakly to deflect from his shortcoming. A real man accepts responsibility for his failure and seeks to correct his error, if possible.

This is Holy Bible 101, folks, or if you're not into religion, the same message comes across in chapter 15 of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

Greater men, greater people, than Bill James or his supporters have set the example for human decency. Why not follow those footsteps rather than seek convenient and selfish excuses to stray from the paths of those who would lead us all to salvation?

Anonymous said...

Bill James will leave office when HE DECIDES to or when he is defeated. It just kills you folks that this is ONE SITUATION that all of your uproar will do not good. Not a chance that he will get defeated. For all of us that agree with him on this blof there are thousands more that support him at the polls. It is funny that you call him racist but support Vilma and Dunlap.....oh, colored folks cannt be racist. Vilma is a complete idiot. I would rather live in a district that put Bill in office than the district that selected Vilma. She is the essesnce of black arrogance. Not long before this all comes to a head. Thankfully, I am ready.

Capital A said...

Very obviously, colored folks can be racist.

Bill James is white.

White is a color.

You're so whacked out by bitterness that it is eating away your better conscience. You don't even know that "colored" when it refers to racial groups is a term that virtually is extinct in the everyday parlance of most people who consider themselves civilized.

And therein lies the problem, supporters of Bill James don't even see themselves for what they are or realize they have the capacity to be better people. I could care less about "black arrogance" where this issue is concerned.

As a human who just happens to be white, I support decency in public discourse. That is the issue here. When people refuse to control their own anxieties and mental illnesses, that stands in the way of political progress and uprightness.

See also: Glenn Beck and Ketih Olbermann.

Anonymous said...

To: Bill James and his supporters on here

I'm buring in hell. Wish you were here. See you all soon!


Anonymous said...

So-called "colored" people used to say they couldn't be racist because they had no "power".

Well, look around.

Black president, mayor, police chief, etc.

It used to be said you needed "prejudice" and "power" to be "racist".

And we have the perfect example
of the new racism in CMPD officer Marcus Jackson who primarily preyed upon illegal immigrant women.

Using both prejudice and power.

So, consider it a done deal...

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