Report by Paula Antolini
June 7, 2017 2:21PM EDT
Photo: Bethel Republican Town Committee (BRTC) Chairman Bill Hillman in Bethel Advocate file photo.
BRTC Chairman Hillman Says ‘Shame on the Bethel Democrats for Allowing Such Profanity, Personal Attacks and Disrespect for Lawful Immigrants’ Regarding Rep. Duff Statement
A few hours ago today, Bethel Republican Town Committee (BRTC) Chairman Bill Hillman posted (in a Facebook group) a copy of his email response to reporter Julia Perkins’ News Times article written on June 6, 2017, entitled “Bethel state representative draws fire for Facebook comment.”
The Perkins article included discussion about Will Duff’s earlier statement in a 2nd Facebook group (with a screenshot of Duff’s statement), “If you know of any potential U.S. Liberals that need financial assistance in their exodus from the United States please let me know. The more that leave the greater our nation will become.”
Duff’s statement was in response to an article stating that French President Emmanuel Macron was offering refugee status to U.S. Liberals, the News Times reports.
The Perkins’ article also included negative statements by Bethel Democratic Town Committee Chairman Nick Vitti Jr., and Raghib Allie-Brennan, vice chairman of the Bethel Democratic Town Committee and the candidate who ran against Duff in November’s election, reports the News Times.
The screen grab of Duff’s statement was also posted on the Bethel Democrats Facebook page, with many comments underneath demanding an apology from Duff. However, according to Hillman’s email to Perkins (view below) the social media comments went far beyond demanding an apology and also targeted Duff’s family business, his mother and his wife.
Photo: CT State Representative Will Duff.
Here is Hillman’s Facebook post, showing his email to Perkins in response to her article about Duff:
Email just sent to Julia Perkins:
Dear Ms. Perkins,
I didn’t have much to say when you called me yesterday as you were preparing your story about a Facebook post made by State Rep. Will Duff, cited in your article by Bethel Democratic Town Committee Chairman Nick Vitti Jr. saying. “I think it’s a silly comment to make.”
I’ve looked at the Bethel Democrats Facebook page, and Mr. Duff’s comment appears to be a “snarky” retort to a quote by French President Macron: “citizens who were disappointed by the decision by the President of the United States, I want to say that they will find in France a second homeland. I call on them: Come and work here with us.”
So in context, it’s just a snarky retort. Please note that “snarky” is usually the rule on Facebook! Mr. Duff can speak for himself about his posts.
On the other hand, the comments of the members of the Bethel Democrats page are a different matter. Having doubled down on their “outrage”, a second post with a link to your story appears to be nothing less than the start of next year’s campaign, where the admin for that page says, “If you have the time, we invite you to call House Minority Leader Themis Klarides, and Will Duff himself, to demand a public apology for his callousness and divisive rhetoric. There is no place for it in the political arena or in any civil discourse.”
This is pretty much the pot calling the kettle out (I don’t want to use chromatic-based triggers), while ignoring the recent exclusion of Representative Duff from a caucus he is entitled to attend, based on his Mother’s national origin.
Their (Bethel Democrats) original post, which drew your attention remains active without any moderation of its over 52 comments and many likes/shares, includes boycott threats, personal attacks against uninvolved family members, and profanity. Here are some of them which remain on line, along with the doubling down of their so-called outrage (the attachments are more complete):
From the Bethel Democrats “Hi, our apologies for the delay — the response to this has been inspiring and overwhelming!”
Here’s some of the “inspiring responses”:
From Jennifer Leavitt: “And like Trump, he has a mail order immigrant bride.” Really, Jennifer? Will Duff’s wife is a lovely person, and not involved in politics. Attacking his family now, are you?
In referring to a Facebook page “the other page”, almost 1000 members strong, “Bethel Democrats Thanks, Rob. We decided not to post a link to this group because it is a very unhealthy place.” Unhealthy? Does that mean reading the “other page” might cause cooties? Give me a break! Many of its members belong to Justin’s page as well. If you don’t like that page, don’t participate!
From Linda F. Malanson “It would be really great if he would leave! We would be truly great without people like him!” Not sure who Ms. Malanson thinks are the “people like him”. Does she refer to all first generation offspring of an immigrant (includes me)? Maybe she means to get rid of all CF survivors? Perhaps she refers to 3000 registered Republican voters in Bethel?
From someone who seems to imply exclusive rights over free speech, there’s Emily Borders comment, “Is he really allowed as an elected official to be sharing and advocating for the disgusting claims on his Facebook page? How is this okay?!” I’m unclear what rights someone forfeits to make a snarky reply to a comment by the French President simply by being an elected official! Allowed? ALLOWED? Who, Ms. “community standard arbiter” Border are you to decide what’s “allowed”?
Then there’s this stereotyping of southern states by Maggie Marcarelli, “I can’t find that post on his page. He must’ve gotten enough negative backlash that he took it down. Bethel. The Mississippi of CT.” One must assume that, for Ms. Marcarelli, equating Bethel to Mississippi is a horrible insult. I see it as rather childish. I’ve never been to Mississippi, so I can’t say what sort of place than entire State is. I’m sure it has much better weather and lower taxes than Connecticut. (No, I do not plan to move there).
Then there’s personal attacks and profanity: Barbara Merritt: “Thank you for sharing I met him and the town hall and knew in my gut he was an idiot .”
Rick Beaulieu: “F**king ignorant piece of shit….” (note that the post on the Dems page is fully spelled out in all its four letter glory) .
Then there’s an implied call to boycott a Bethel Business noted by Karen Minette Weinstein, and repeated elsewhere, “Wait a minute…this bigot owns a shipping & postal business right in Dolan Plaza. Not going there again.” The fact is, Will Duff does not own that business! Owned by his Chilean mother; she is completely apolitical. So you asked for my comments? Shame on the Bethel Democrats for allowing such profanity, personal attacks and disrespect for lawful (and uninvolved) immigrants to remain online so long. Shame for supporting by silence an implied call to boycott for a local woman-owned business. That these remain online with a doubling down of political outrage tells us more about the Democrats in Bethel, and the values of whomever is “moderating” that forum. I personally acknowledge, and as the BRTC Chairman that Mr. Duff’s comment was snarky, and I can understand how some people who oppose him politically would seize on his post. Yep, I called it snarky, Will.
That said, I must call on my counterpart, Nick Vitti, to get HIS DTC Facebook page under control and have the profanity, immigrant-phobic and boycott calls against a minority-owned business removed. As Mr. Vitti said, “I think it’s a silly comment to make,” HIS committee page has vile and mean commentary, not up to what should be better standards for his official Facebook page. Please note, my comments are strictly personal, and are not made on behalf of the BRTC.