The internet has been abuzz with accounts (although I have seen no video yet) of an exchange between Governor Christie and Bill Brown, a long time Democrat activist and fellow law student at Rutgers Camden who is also vehemently against the Rowan and Rutgers merger plan.
For those of you who have not heard, what essentially happened is that Bill Brown asked a question about the Rutgers merger, the Governor started to respond, Brown interrupted him, they went back and forth, Christie made a comment that is true and then unfortunately ended it by using the word “idiot,” and Brown was removed from the room by police while yelling that he is a Navy SEAL.
A few weeks ago, I posted a video and commended Bill Brown for his testimony before the Rutgers Board of Governors where he advocated for veteran students in New Jersey. I received hate mail for that posting, and after yesterday’s event I received more. I don’t apologize for it. No one is wrong 100% of the time, and at the Rutgers Board of Governors meeting, Bill Brown was right on.
Yesterday, Bill Brown was dead wrong. And just as I felt it necessary to commend him when he was right, I’ll call him out when he’s wrong, regardless of his feelings on the merger.
This was the exact quote by Governor Christie,
Let me tell you something, after you graduate from law school, you conduct yourself like that in a courtroom, your rear end’s going to be thrown in jail, idiot.
Other than the use of the word “idiot,” Governor Christie could not be more correct. There is no excuse for Bill Brown or anyone else to act that way at a town hall meeting, even though we have become accustomed to it in the last few years. There was nothing about his behavior that was professional. It was disruptive, embarrassing, and worst of all, it hurt the anti-merger movement.
Bill Brown, whether others like it or not, has put himself out there as one of the faces of the anti-merger movement. He is at every meeting, every town hall, every hearing, and every rally. He is not only seen, but heard, at nearly every event. Those who stand up as leaders simply cannot conduct themselves in this manner. There is no reason to shout, no reason to interrupt, and no reason to be disrespectful to our Governor or anyone else. All that does is trumpet the notion that those of us against the merger (and there are a lot of us) are simply expressing an emotional reaction to Rutgers Camden’s potential disappearance, or some sort of irrational bigotry against Rowan University. That is the narrative that some in the Norcross media want to present, and it is one that we cannot afford to play into. Because of the national attention that yesterday’s town hall is receiving, I would say that the tiff between Brown and Governor Christie actually set us back.
As we get closer to the July 1st deadline that Governor Christie has apparently set, I would ask that anyone who attempts to engage the Governor, or any other official, regarding the merger does not do what Bill Brown did. Be respectful, be professional, and be logical. This fight will be won by undermining the poor proposal, not by undermining our own legitimacy…
THE VIDEO: CHRISTIE’S “SHOUTING MATCH” with WILLIAM BROWN