The power of The Lie

To the Editor:

If you tell a lie often enough, people will believe it. This axiom is proven over and over on social media and was proven again at the Berne Town Hall last Wednesday night [“Veterans rally for Berne councilman after Dems skip meeting for safety”].

During our July meeting, one councilmember angrily stood up and shouted threats at another and, upon being asked where this threat would be carried out, shouted, “It’s going to happen right here!” and in a menacing tone, “You don’t know crap about me, you know nothing about me … !”

This was not the first threatening statement he has made. Because of these incidences, three council members requested security measures be taken at the next town board meeting. The request for the use of the metal detector — a tool we have at the town hall already — was flatly denied.

The reasons given? That requiring everyone to pass through the metal detector upon entering Town Hall might deter attendance, and that the councilmember who made the very public threat claims that what he said wasn’t a threat, so therefore he did not support protective measures.

Neither of these are valid arguments. We decided without the metal detector it was not safe for the threatened member, any of the officials, or the public to attend, so we chose the only route open to us — to let everyone know we would not be there, hoping to change the mind of our supervisor.

Instead, The Lie was started.

Our supervisor proceeded to share a confidential email — he admitted this in last week’s Enterprise article — with a local radio personality, who twisted a statement from that email and proclaimed on a local news outlet’s Facebook page that all the Democrats on the Berne Town Board had stated “because he [referring to the board member who made the threat] is a combat vet, he is a mass killer” and that we are “labeling all Combat Veterans as being damaged and killers.”

None of us has ever said anything like that. None of us have ever even thought anything like that.

We all have combat veterans in our families, and we all support all of them. But those facts did not matter.  The Lie, shared and commented on, incited a group of people to write other horrible lies about us, building an anger that spread throughout the day, and included calls to “swarm” the meeting.

Instead of doing the responsible thing and allowing our request of the metal detector, our supervisor, knowing that no official meeting could take place without us, decided to utilize the Facebook momentum and hold a political-type rally at Town Hall, further encouraging a mob-type mentality that continues to grow on Facebook even now.

The crowd that gathered had many veterans and veterans’ family members, most not from the town of Berne, coming in support of their brother on the board — an action I admire and respect in its entirety. Read that again: an action that I admire and respect in its entirety.

It is unfortunate that it was all based on The Lie, and apparently unaware of this, they continued to be lied to, probably believing what they were hearing, as the evening progressed.

The board member who made the threat got up and stated he was speaking as a resident, not a board member, then proceeded to read confidential internal emails he had access to only because he was a board member.

Logically, you can’t have it both ways.

He read portions — leaving out important parts, mind you — of one authored by myself, and then made the conclusion that, because I used the statement that in light of “what has been happening in the US” we would be negligent to ignore even vague verbal threats, and therefore I labeled him as being a mass killer.

It didn’t suit his purpose to mention the four documents I had attached on workplace violence from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, The National Safety Council, the New York State Department of Labor, and a risk-management group, which all conclude that prevention is key and even vague verbal threats must not be ignored and need to be addressed.

He went on to indicate that we are responsible for a degree of harm caused to him — he made a reference of going to the Dollar General store — because of our confidential emails. Those very emails that the public would never have known about if he and our supervisor had not released them to the public in the first place!

Again, you cannot have it both ways.

He then went on to call for the three of us to step down, a preposterous suggestion. That very evening proved that, without the three of us, there is no quorum, and legally, no town business can take place. Yet we are all supposed to, on his say-so, resign at the same time to solve the problem?

The Lie, and more lies like it, continue to be spread on social media, inviting hateful and threatening thoughts and speech, and encouraging angry crowds to attend our future town board meetings.

It is evident that a meeting at Town Hall needs security measures now even more than before, yet still there is no desire on the part of our supervisor to do the one thing we have asked for — use the metal detector for all personnel and visitors at town board meetings. It’s a simple tool employed by other town boards, the county courthouse, and everything from airports to football games, which we have all come to accept as standard practice.

So, where does this leave us?

— The Lie apparently reigns, at least for the time being. We will be blamed on social media and in letters (no doubt some in this issue) for causing the problem, for saying things we have never said, and the only solution suggested will be our removal from the board. The fact that one town board member verbally threatened another, at an open town board meeting no less, will be minimized and ignored. Hopefully some will seek for the truth here; unfortunately, many will not bother;

— We are at a stalemate with our supervisor, who for some unknown reason refuses to give a rational explanation as to why he won’t arrange for the metal detector we already have at town hall to be used;

— We cannot safely conduct business at Town Hall, and the town cannot function without us.

The metaphorical ball is in our supervisor’s court. Will he resume play, or will he continue to pat himself on the back, bask in The Lie, and allow the town to flounder?

Dawn G. Jordan

Berne Town Board

Joined: 05/11/2019 - 09:16
is this a coup?

It's happening all over the country. The Republican party is breaking norms, and sometimes breaking laws. They deceive, deny and threaten. They invoke religion when convenient.

Worth contemplating what is happening in rural America these days.

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