The big story this week was the controversy that arose over the appointment of Gerry Nutter to the Election Commission. Seven city councilors said “yes” to the appointment. The two who said “no”, Rodney Elliott and Ed Kennedy, cited things Gerry had written on his blog as the reason for their opposition. Elliott quoted a post from early in Gerry’s blogging career in which Gerry, in the midst of a nasty online fight with an anonymous commenter, referred to the commenter as a prostitute with a sexually transmitted disease. There’s no point in parsing the exact words or trying to place them in context. They were unacceptable. Gerry himself realized that. He apologized online the very next day.
Now the opponents of City Manager Bernie Lynch have seized upon this one instance to make Gerry, the city manager who appointed him, and the seven councilors who ratified the appointment, the worst people in the world when it comes to women’s rights. The Lowell Sun in its editorial and news coverage of this issue has morphed into such a defender of women that the paper will soon feature a pink border on its front page.
The hypocrisy is staggering. But for his blogging, Gerry’s media and political critics would be celebrating his appointment. After all, he’s from Lowell and for Lowell. He’s a man. His skin is white. He was born here. He never left here. He’s registered as a Democrat but routinely supports conservatives and blames liberals for many of society’s ills. What more could you ask for? Had Gerry not been selected, these same critics would be pillorying the city manager for again disrespecting another guy from Lowell and for Lowell. But for the blogging.
For Gerry, blogging was problematic, mostly because Gerry has of late been supportive of the city manager and anyone who supports the city manager these days gets hit with a barrage of negative coverage from the newspaper (e.g., Joe Mendonca, Vesna Nuon, Bill Martin and with this morning’s Column, Rita Mercier) and negative spin from the manager’s enemies. They don’t want people talking about A1 bond ratings and no tax increases and new companies moving into the city and the rest of the superlatives that have occurred while Bernie Lynch has been in charge. No, they want the discussion dominated by dumb blog posts, dangerous dogs, library cretins and chickens.
But let’s for a moment accept that our recent converts to the cause of feminism are sincere. As offended as they are by language that is anti-women, they must be equally offended by language that is homophobic and racist. Gerry’s ill-advised comments were made more than two years ago, so there seems to be no statute of limitations on outrageous words. We should convene a commission to root out past instances of this type. We can call it the Nutter Commission.
At its first public hearing, the Nutter Commission can take evidence on the following comments made by past elected officials:
When a group making a presentation set up their easel facing away from this elected official, he blurted out “What am I black?”
When asked what he thought of a t-shirt imprinted with an anti-gay slur, another elected official said he found it “very humorous – it’s Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve.”
Another elected official insisted on calling a female colleague who had retained her maiden name by her husband’s last name and said of that same colleague that she was an unfit mother because “she leaves her child behind every day to go to work in another city.” This same elected official said that “Hispanics are the worst of all in this city” and that AIDS was God’s way of “getting rid of gays one by one.”
After these utterances were made, the city of Lowell named a building or a street for each of the three. I assume the Nutter Commission will recommend the immediate renaming of these structures and publicly brand all who supported the original dedications as anti-women, homophobic, and racist.
Because the Lowell Sun has become such a champion of the cause of females, I suggest the Nutter Commission hold its second public hearing at the American Textile Museum on the topic of how to treat women in the workplace. Testimony can be taken from MK Gudza, Erin Smith, Rita Savard, Jen Myers, Sarah Favot, Sharon Flaherty, and all the other women who have left the employ of the Lowell Sun.
Gerry should not have used the language he did. If the penalty for that is a lifetime ban on serving the city of Lowell in any capacity, so be it. He can resume his blogging. But let’s all be consistent about this. If Gerry is to be held to that standard, so should everyone else, past, present and future. To do otherwise would be hypocritical.
Gerry Nutter is a committed citizen activist who cares about his community. He won’t embarrass the city or its citizens as an Election Commissioner. For instance, he won’t illegally remove ballots from the Election Commission office to help a political ally who is running a write-in campaign for state senator, as one past Election Commissioner did. He will do his due diligence about all things having to do with city elections and the law and procedures and will make worthwhile suggestions and see them implemented. It’s time to forgive his sin and move on.