School board trustee should resign over lynching comments
Some may have thought that he was just joking when Uinta County School District No. 1 Trustee Dave Bennett made a remark at the Douglas Frank event on May 30 that “get a rope” was an appropriate response to unfounded allegations of voter fraud (Uinta County Herald, “Gasoline on the fire,” April 7, 2023).
According to the Uinta County Herald article in last Friday’s paper and incited by comments about the former NIH Infectious Disease Director Anthony Fauci by U.S. Rep. Harriet Hageman, Bennett once again responded from the townhall audience to, “Get a rope for him, too.” The obvious reference to a hanging of Dr. Fauci got laughter from some members of the audience and a call, for God’s sake, to “crucify him,” by another person in attendance.
“Get a rope” is a phrase that implies that a person should be lynched. “Lynching” is defined as the execution of a person by mob action without due process of law, usually by hanging, and was often utilized in conjunction with vigilante justice in the Old West and the persecution of people of various ethnicities.
Public officials have been forced to resign because of their statements calling for the lynching of other public officials (The Hill, “Virginia GOP Official Resigns,” April 12, 2022) or other people that have become the object of their hatred (NBC News, “Oklahoma County Commissioner Resigns,” April 19, 2023).
Lynching is finally a federal hate crime (Emmett Till Antilynching Act signed by Pres. Biden on March 28, 2023). And, of course, we all recall the insurrectionists yelling, “Hang Mike Pence” at the Jan. 6 assault on the United States Capitol.
As an elected school district trustee, Bennett is supposed to be making judgments about what is in the best interests of our children and grandchildren. How can we have confidence in the judgment of a person who on multiple occasions has (at best, because he thinks it’s funny or, at worst, because he really believes it) called for the lynching of public officials or others?
The answer to that question is obvious. Bennett should resign immediately, and the remaining district trustees should appoint someone with better judgment to serve on the board of trustees.
As for the others at the townhall who thought Bennett was being funny or who spewed their own hate speech, shame on you for taking the bait from Rep. Hageman as she spread disinformation about public health issues. By laughing at Bennett’s inappropriate comments, you encouraged the continuation of this hate filled form of speech.
We can disagree and have a civil discourse about public health and other issues, but engaging in such vitriol does nothing but tear down the bridges that need to be in place if we are to have those conversations.