There have been a number of recent articles and letters on the controversy surrounding the misogynistic Sept. 12 email by Park County Republican Party (PCRP) Precinct Committeeman …
There have been a number of recent articles and letters on the controversy surrounding the misogynistic Sept. 12 email by Park County Republican Party (PCRP) Precinct Committeeman Troy Bray to Wyoming Senate Judiciary Committee Chairwoman Tara Nethercott.
Former Republican Sen. Al Simpson and others criticized Bray. This generated a letter by PCRP committeewoman Dona Becker that referred to Simpson’s criticism as an “elitist distraction” that “missed the point” that Bray was frustrated and angry over Nethercott’s handling of an anti-vax mandate bill in March 2021 and that he “apologized.” She accused Simpson of disruptive behavior at PCRP committee meetings.
Mr. Simpson responded on Oct. 26 where he referred to Ms. Becker’s letter as “drivel” and that her accusations of disruptive behavior were a “big lie.” He stated that the committee is a “tight-knit group” and suggested that meetings do occasionally get acrimonious. He noted the hypocrisy of most committee members who purport to be Christian while “crucifying” some Republicans who were not conservative enough.
This led to a second letter from Ms. Becker on Nov. 4. She first takes on Simpson’s challenge to a “lie detector” test, emphasized her Christian bonafides and claimed that the right of “free speech” comes from Jesus, the Constitution and the PCRP platform. She then defines a true Republican as someone who votes with the party greater than 80% of the time, citing “Item 13” of the Platform, as if that is important to anyone outside of the PCRP.
She then jumps into the Troy Bray “kerfuffle” by making a distinction between “worldviews” of Republicans who agree with “free speech” and everyone else, “like Democrats,” who do not. She defends Bray using distractions including unfair press coverage, the “fracture” in the Republican Party between those who “believe in the party platform” and those who don’t, and that Bray was just a “lowly precinct committeeman” who apologized but still lost his job.
Reliance on his “apology” is overstated. An apology requires three elements.
1. Express genuine regret for the offense without qualifications.
2. Take responsibility for one’s actions without excuses.
3. Offer to make restitution for what you have said or done.
Absence of any element negates the apology. Also, the “righteousness” of the belief or position that resulted in the offending action is irrelevant. That an offense occurred is the most important consideration.
Bray offered a weak apology solely for use of a vulgar term for female genitalia. He doubled down on everything else he said, concluding with “I will not be bullied, nor will I allow bullies to win.”
Bray has a history of inflammatory speech, previously calling for the firing or execution of Park County Health Officer Dr. Aaron Billin in March, during a meeting about a proposed mask mandate. An apology was never made.
Chairman Martin Kimmet also apologized, emphasizing that Bray was a “great patriot” acting on his own using his First Amendment rights. He ignored the fact that Bray used his PCRP title to give the email more substance. Kimmet noted that the loss of Bray’s job was a “bigger wrong than [his] using those profanities.” He didn’t bother to mention that Bray urged Ms. Nethercott to kill herself. The PCRP cannot avoid responsibility for Bray’s action. The committee did not even censure him.
The right of “free speech” is not unlimited. Libel, incitement of violence, etc., are not protected speech. The First Amendment does not confer freedom from consequences. Bray wrote a highly offensive email that resulted in legitimate public outrage. He has only himself to blame for losing his job and has not taken responsibility for his actions.
Apologies are hard. I know this from personal experience. That still does not mean you should avoid offering them for serious matters. All of us make mistakes. The difficulty is owning up to them. It is still not too late for the PCRP to fully apologize to Sen. Nethercott and Dr. Billin. I encourage them to find the courage to do so.