ISSUE 1: Commr. Spong is accused of making a "vulgar, inappropriate, and sexist" comment to BOE President, Donna Brightman. Was it sexist or does it actually diminish the seriousness of real acts of sexism?
Brightman wrote a letter to the Herald Mail claiming that he said:
She said that it was in a conversation just between the two of them where they:"FACTS are like whores, once you get them on their back, they'll do whatever."
"were talking about facts and figures that had been presented about the school board's budget."My first reaction was to wonder if she swooned and had to have someone with smelling salts to bring her back after such a blow to her....facts and figures. He clearly was not talking about her, or about women, and definitely not about the women on the BOE. In context, the statement may not be PC or polite, and maybe it was a little vulgar and inappropriate with someone of Brightman's sensitivities, but:
It made his point that facts and figures can be manipulated.Commr. Spong later, much later, claimed that he said "lady of the night." It is her word against his. Whatever. Sometimes you have to learn how to react and handle other professional's unprofessional behavior professionally.
It would have been far more inappropriate had he blurted it out in a public forum. At most I might have winced at his lack of social skills. It would kind of be like the time when Mayor Bob Bruchey,in a public forum, talked about not being able to find a strapless bra for his wife in downtown Hagerstown because everything closed up too early. However, even if it were a conversation between me and my most vicious adversary it would have rolled off of me like water off of a duck's back. (I hope I am not offending any ducks.)
I started my career in the 1970's in the then male-dominated field of electronics. I was the only female as an electronic technician for two years, and later the only female engineering writer for about the first three years. I grew the thick skin necessary to succeed. As a technician, I faced income inequality, no chance of promotion, sexual harassment, bullying, and sexual assault. I received a little more respect from most of my colleagues and customers as a writer, but there was the occasional good old boy with no sense of boundaries. With this in mind, I find petty accusations of sexism to be counterproductive to the cause of women. I had to choose my battles when the battles were new and fierce. So I find it laughable that a strong, intelligent, professional like Donna Brightman is cut to the core over the word "whore" as an adjective for facts and figures. To be a female political activist I have also had to have very thick skin. In my opinion, if Brightman is going to serve as president over an organization as large as the BOE and participate in the necessary politics...she is going to have to learn to handle uncomfortable conversations without running to the local newspaper. I pick my battles and fight the ones that I choose wholeheartedly. Of course I am a crusty old woman from Baltimore, but Commr. Spong's comment would not even make it onto my radar.
In my opinion the letter to the local newspaper was not about Brightman's feminine sensitivities to the word whore, but more about offending her facts and figures and thwarting her plans. I would not be surprised to find out that Brightman has been encouraged to make this big to-do-over-nothing by Commr. Spong's haters. Make no mistake. He has them.
ISSUE 2: Was this comment so egregious that Commr.Spong should be forced to resign from the Board of County Commissioner?
We have people ready to rend their clothes and wear sackcloth and ashes in the square until Commr. Spong is driven from politics. It is no surprise that it is the same people who were spitting mad about his appointment. It has been suggested that because he spoke to a lawyer he must know that he is guilty of being a sexist. Are you kidding me? The sexist card used by political adversaries can be as destructive as the race card. It can ruin careers and lives. It can lead to lawsuits and your assets could be threatened. It can adversely affect your family. Of course he spoke to a lawyer first. Anyone who is saying that in his position they would not have been concerned...even afraid...is a liar. As I said before, I don't think a remark is sexist just because it has the word whore in it, especially as an adjective for facts and figures in a political discussion. I absolutely do not think it is grounds to have him removed from the Board of County Commissioners.
ISSUE 3: Are politicians and other political operatives exploiting this accusation for political purposes?
It appears that the same people who were so vociferously against Commr. Spong's appointment are the same people who appear to be exploiting this situation to try to have him removed from office and replaced with someone that they deem more suitable. I know because of the phone calls, texts, Facebook messages, flaming blogs, etc, that I received when I interviewed Commr. Spong just after he was appointed. I see the same people spreading it all over Facebook, writing flaming blogs, and going on the amateur local talk show, The Flip Side, to keep it alive and in the public eye. There have been whole segments on this show about this non-issue of a sexist remark. On all of the other unrelated segments there have been obvious attempts to bring it up even when it doesn't quite make sense. I don't see any serious activist for women's rights taking note of this comment. It is only Commr. Spong's detractors keeping it alive.
ISSUE 4: Is it acceptable for politicians to be hypocrites, or should they be called out on blatant acts of hypocrisy?
I am not a fan, friend, or foe of Commr. Spong. I have not thought about him again since interviewing him in May 2015. I wouldn't have written this blog at all had I not watched an episode of The Flip Side and witnessed a politician shamelessly not only exploiting this lame comment, but the hypocrisy was mind blowing. This was a politician who I often find to be offensive, sometimes sexist, and certainly inappropriate beating that dead horse about Commr. Spong's alleged offense. This is the pot calling the kettle black and his name is Bob Bruchey. Bruchey has said things and overlooked sexist statements said to me by others. They weren't so offensive that I ran to the local newspaper. In fact I never spoke of it. It was something that did hit my radar, but I am can handle it. Only after watching him angling for opportunities to disparage and disgrace Commr. Spong in every segment of the show did I sit up and take note of this issue. I was thinking of all the people....he needs to shut up. Finally, I couldn't take it anymore and contacted him online via Messenger to ask him why he kept harping on Commr. Spong's comment when he is not exactly against rude and sexist remarks. For example: