By Charles Barr | The Save Jersey Blog
As everyone in Monmouth County as heard by now, Union Beach Mayor Paul Smith and Victoria Dean, the Marlboro Board of Education Vice President, are in the news for “Display[ing] Racist Posts On Social Media.”
The unquestionably reliable Jersey Shore Insider first reported how Smith posted a meme via his Facebook account with the following text: “A Communist, a Muslim, and an illegal alien walk into a bar. The bartender said ‘Hello Mr. President.’”
Dean, meanwhile, posted an article on her own Facebook page explaining that “Pandora’s box opened.”
Of course Monmouth County Democrats have had a field day with this. Vin Gopal, who heads the Monmouth County Democrats, pounced with full force. “Union Beach Mayor Paul Smith’s bigoted and blatantly false comments have no place in our political discourse and raise serious questions about his ability to uphold his oath of office,” Gopal said. “His comments show a complete lack of respect for the people of Monmouth County and for the President of this country.”
Calls for Smith’s resignation are already makes the rounds in Monmouth and posts on social media have underscored this sentiment.
Is this an appropriate reaction? Or was Vin Gopal just bored one day and decided to troll Smith’s and Dean’s Facebook accounts. He’d find mine pretty amusing, too, if he would ever accept my friend request. Looking at an emotional situation without the emotion: I’d just like to point out that neither Paul Smith or Victoria Dean actually “said” anything racist (in regards to these posts) on social media. Smith just re-posted an un-original meme and Dean simply posted an article and liked a comment that could be interpreted as rude to Muslims – similar to how I posted a meme about being pulled over by a cop and having marijuana in your car, or when I liked that one comment about Shamrock Shakes at McDonald’s being “Yuck hahah.”
In case you missed it, I recently penned an article of my own calling on a public official to resign. Unlike the inadvisable Facebook activity of Smith and Dean, Senator Menendez’s allegedly illegal actions and possible Justice Department charges represent serious misconduct which, if proven beyond a reasonable doubt, also represent a betrayal of the trust placed in him by the people of New Jersey and a failure to uphold the letter and spirit of the Constitution of the United States that he swore to defend.
Smith and Dean?
They simply participated in normal, day-to-day Facebook activity. And while you and I are certainly welcome to disagree with the content of their Facebook activities, Smith and Dean haven’t actually “done” anything wrong in an official capacity. Unless, for example, Mr. Gopal can demonstrate that Smith and/or Dean abuse(d) their positions of power to single out “[a] Communist, a Muslim, and an illegal alien,” I don’t see any reason why reposting memes or liking comments on Facebook precludes anyone from holding the office of Mayor or Board of Education Vice President.
The only serious question this raises for me? If Mr. Gopal, and our society generally, can mature to the point of recognizing 21st Century social media rhetorical satire for what it is without having a panic attack.
To be clear, I’m not defending the meme or the comment; in fact, I disagree with the meme and the comment as much as I disagree with the silly left-wing memes about “Climate change being the worst possible thing to walk this planet,” or right-wing memes disparaging marijuana for making your brain shrivel up into nothingness. But let’s grow up a bit here! The posts were absolutely not in good taste, but since when has poor taste rendered a politician ineligible for office? Or in incapable of doing his or her job?
Were that the case, Save Jerseyans, we’d run out of politicians in a New York minute.