An apology alone will never be enough

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Dear Mr. Lammert,

As a parent, your apology is not enough. It is necessary, but it is not enough. You asking for (and receiving) forgiveness, and making amends is necessary. But it is not enough.

You hold a position of authority over other people’s children in your role as assistant principal at Camden Hills Regional High School. My assumption is that there are some white Christian males who attend that school. You have effectively called them, or their fathers who perhaps legally own firearms, “domestic terrorists.” There is no apology that, alone, takes care of that transgression. Some words cannot be undone by other words.

Your first apology in the matter started off as follows: “Good morning. I hope that you all enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends.” Really? Are you aware, Mr. Lammert, that Thanksgiving was first celebrated in this country by white Christian males with easy access to guns? That Thanksgiving is lamented by the left as a bigoted, white male-centric holiday that celebrates the slaughter of innocent Native Americans? Why would you bother to offer your hopes that we all enjoyed a lovely Thanksgiving with our fellow domestic terrorists while at the same time engaging in libel against them?

You then go on, in your first apology, to say, “I mistakenly left my setting open to “public” and in doing so made a post that offended some members of our community and beyond.” Here you simply seem to be saying you are sorry for getting caught; that if your post had been private, it would have somehow been OK.

Later that morning, after you’d met with your administration, your apology became much more profound.  Of course this, however, appears completely scripted. By that point, the damage was already done.

I’d also like to be clear that you haven’t offended us. You’ve shocked us. Being offended is the result of not being invited to a friend’s wedding, or perhaps having a family member say something hurtful about you. You went so far beyond “offense” as to demean the word by using it in this context. But the left has so overused the word and the concept of offense that perhaps it has lost all meaning to you. Progressives decry offense to the point that everything is an offense to everyone now; this is wholly a liberal dictate. So perhaps that part is not your fault.

But what is your fault is showing your true feelings. By “liking” articles from ThinkProgress you show your political affiliation. By calling the NRA “Not Really Applicable” you show your disdain for the 2nd Amendment to the Constitution of the United States. By saying, “The only terrorists we need to fear are domestic white ‘Christian’ men with easy access to guns,” you display your cohesive feelings around the entire topic. And while you are protected by our Constitution, and the brave men and women of our military (and their guns) to say these things as a private citizen, as an educator of and administrator for children, you have lost all credibility.

Your language also could potentially be seen as hate speech. In his publication in the “Maine Law Review” (Vol. 64:1 2011), Kevin Saunders points to the Supreme Court analyses of hate speech in schools and notes, “Even derogatory and negative speech that might comment on characteristics of a group identity is protected to the extent it involves core religions or religious speech, or involves commentary on social issues . . . (However), particularly severe or pervasive speech might not be protected  . . .” Don’t you think calling white Christian males terrorists is severe?

Saunders goes on to say, “It may be that … school children need to be protected from hate speech … in order to thrive. Only in an atmosphere in which their dignity and equality are recognized can children obtain the sort of education to which they are entitled. Speech that impugns that dignity and equality, speech that is degrading on the basis of their race, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation ought to be limited by the school authorities.”

Your speech, sir, impugned the dignity of white male Christians. It was degrading based upon their ethnicity, gender and religious affiliation. Think of the students in your high school that fall into this category. You literally called them terrorists. I know of no apology, or internal review and “handling” by your administration that could effectively make this right. You haven’t created a very safe space now, have you?

In closing, I will just ask you one question. What do you think would have happened to you if you said instead, “The only terrorists we need to fear are domestic brown ‘Muslim’ men with easy access to guns.” I’m pretty sure we all know.

Julie McDonald-Smith lives in North Yarmouth. She is a registered nurse, former Capitol Hill staffer, publicity chairwoman of the Cumberland County Republican Committee, and occasional guest host on WGAN 560AM. Her column appears every other week.