"As a body, the Middletown Human Rights Commission is of the opinion that Mr. Gallagher's comments on his personal blog on July 17, 2008, were highly offensive and inappropriate. The Middletown Human Rights Commission works to encourage people to respect and tolerate one another."
This was the motion drafted, discussed and unanimously adopted last night during a special meeting of the Middletown Township Human Rights Commission (HRC).
Apparently Mayor Gerard Scharfenberger contacted the HRC with the intention of "discussing" an article that was printed in The Courier. What he was referring to, in reality, was Art's blog post that first broke his use of the n-word to "spark" the race discussion.
The long and short of it seemingly became that Gerry wanted to punish The Courier because of Art's use of the n-word on his BLOG, a blog that never was and certainly is NOT associated with The Courier, nor was the word he used ever printed in The Courier in that fashion.
The HRC didn't even know why there was a special meeting when these facts were pointed out. However, there were several community members in attendance because of their concern about Gallagher, his disrespect and the community's stance on the issue.
I have to tell you, the meeting last night featured some of the best discussion I have heard in Middletown in a LONG time. It was a wonderful meeting, and not because of what eventually took place. It was wonderful because, for the first time ever, I saw the people of Middletown actually LISTEN to other residents. The HRC listened to the public and showed what I took as genuine concern. I think others in attendance would agree.
Every single person's voice was heard, who wanted to be heard. And the HRC was respectful and very appreciative of what everyone had to say about what has happened in their community to spark so much discussion.
At first I was appalled there was even a meeting for this purpose, to discuss SOLELY The Courier. The HRC only meets four times a year, yet Gerry felt it was necessary to have a special meeting about this issue.
He didn't even attend the meeting.
There was NAACP representation, however. Lorenzo Dangler, president of the Greater Long Branch chapter; Pastor Henry P. Davis, of the Greater Red Bank chapter; and Lionel Wilson, of the Bayshore chapter, were in attendance.
The general opinion of the entire group that met last night: It is NOT OK to use the n-word as Art Gallagher did. It was irresponsible and shows a complete lack of respect. Not only is it a reflection of his personal opinion, but also of his character and the organizations he represents.
I'm pretty sure Scharfenberger didn't have this in mind when he called the meeting. Guess if he really wants something done, he has to do it himself. The residents of Middletown, on the other hand, actually CARE about the issues and have many things to say.
I, for one, was proud to be in such company last night.
It never was, is not now and never will be OK to use the n-word. The Middletown HRC has made it a point to set the standard immediately, showing ZERO tolerance for this kind of behavior.
As one resident said, you might not be able to police the Internet, but when people take offense and it plays out on a local level . . . How could the community not do something?
I see now why Middletown is truly such a great place to live. It has nothing to do with its administration, but everything to do with its people.
Check out The Courier online for more updates later in the day.