April 11, 2008

Rep. Davis' "Apology" Is Not Enough

Rep. Monique Davis (D-Chicago) finally apologized to atheist activist Rob Sherman for her tirade of bigotry. She was reportedly stressed over learning about the death of a Chicago are public school student, somehow excusing her behavior. Sherman has accepted her apology and forgiven her. So is this matter closed now? Not just yet.

Initially, I thought I could join Rob Sherman in agreeing to forgive Rep. Davis. I have certainly said things I later regretted when under periods of great stress. Then again, I would expect to face consequences for public expressions of bigotry, regardless of how much stress I was experiencing at the time. Like others, I am able to control my impulses and exercise reasonable judgment, even in periods of distress. Rep. Davis can believe what she wants, but even if her expression was a stress-related lapse in judgment, I'm not sure how this excuses it.

Rep. Davis' tirade remains newsworthy for how it was largely ignored by the mainstream media. After Eric Zorn broke the news with his article in The Chicago Tribune, the story was basically ignored outside the atheist blogosphere. Even now, Countdown With Keith Olbermann and a handful of A-list blogs are the exceptions to the absence of coverage. This story did not get the attention it deserved.

I think it is fairly obvious to all observers that what prevented a massive public outcry and media blitz in this case was that Rep. Davis' bigotry was directed toward an atheist instead of a member of virtually any other group. Can you imagine what would have happened if her outburst had been directed at a Jew, Muslim, or even a homosexual?

Had her comments been directed toward another religion, I have little doubt that she would have been forced out immediately. The outrage would have been far less had her comments been directed at a homosexual, but I am still convinced that the public response would have been far greater than what we saw in this case.

Now there is some question about whether Rep. Davis' apology was really more of a non-apology. Atheist Ethicist recently pointed out that Davis only apologized for yelling at Sherman and not for her expression of bigotry. Moreover, she has not addressed those she insulted. Remember, telling Sherman that he had no right to be there because of his atheism was a message to all nonbelievers. This was both bigoted and blatantly anti-American. I'm not sure it is time to let go of this one just yet.

If you would like to contact Rep. Davis and let her know what you think, here is her contact information:
http://www.ilga.gov/house/Rep.asp?MemberID=1148
1234 West 95th Street
Chicago, IL 60643
(773) 445-9700
(773) 445-5755 FAX
E-mail: mdavis@hdsmail.state.il.us
H/T to Pharyngula

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