Though not deadly, let's not resort to name calling
You've probably heard that Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury — during a public meeting — lashed out at Commissioner Loretta Smith by saying, you're a "b _ _ _ _."
What ensued after that Dec. 21 meeting has been equal measure of political posturing and overreaction.
Last week, in the first county board meeting after the New Year holiday, about 20 people stormed the gathering with demands that Kafoury resign.
Some of those people equated the "B" word with a racial slur. Others described Kafoury as unfit to serve as chair or as a commissioner. Yet another labeled Kafoury's apology as insincere (I wonder how they would know.)
It's all so hard to watch.
My Pamplin Media Group colleague Miles Vance put it this way: "These skirmishes reflect the loss of civility in public discourse — something that's certainly waning in the President Trump era (both from Trump supporters and detractors) — in print, on air and in meetings."
But really, we need to put Kafoury's bad judgment and even worse manners into context.
Closer to home, a Fairview city councilor was censured in February 2016 for his use of the word "douchebag" in reference to a fellow councilor. No resignation required.
At the federal level, President Trump, in reference to protests by NFL players during the playing of the national anthem, is quoted as saying "get that son of a b____ off the field right now." He's still in office.
And seriously, it's not like Kafoury is accused of sexual harassment (former Portland Mayor Sam Adams and former U.S. Senator Bob Packwood), or of having a sexual relationship with a minor (former Gov. Neil Goldschmidt).
As I considered what I might say about the Kafoury kerfuffle, I reached out to editors, publishers and others employed with the Pamplin Media Group, asking if her ill-advised comment warranted her resignation.
These are some of the responses:
• "Apology, not resignation. I have never liked being called a "b___" in a professional setting. There is no constructive use for the word. It's always meant to undermine."
• "I think it would be silly to call for Kafoury's resignation because of name-calling."
• And this from The Outlook's own columnist Sharon Nesbit: "Not acceptable in a public meeting. Even I would know better."
If there is a unifying consensus, it would be that Kafoury should have known better, that she crossed the line between professional behavior and juvenile name-calling, but also that her mistake comes nowhere close to the level of political suicide.
If there is a cautionary tale in all of this, I suppose it could be this: Don't call people names no matter how mad you are at the time. It never makes things better.
Now, can we get on with the business of county government?