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Sandy Litvack Political double standard?

November 15, 2018

I was surprised and disappointed to see the supposed shock and horror from our first selectman and 12, mostly Republican, women over the use of the word “douche” (yes it is not so terrible that it cannot be written) by Laura Kostin after her loss in a hard-fought political campaign. I might have taken this attack more seriously if it were not so obviously political. Only Republicans are offended by the word? Well, perhaps, but I would be willing to bet that every one of them has used a more offensive word at one time or another and perhaps, like Laura, they have regretted it and apologized.

Let me be clear: I am not excusing the comment. The remark was inappropriate and not reflective of the Laura Kostin I know. Not surprisingly Laura has publicly apologized for it. Yet for some, an apology is seemingly not enough. They want a pound of flesh — they want her punished and the punishment they have decreed is for her to resign from the Representative Town Meeting.

Even more troubling than the public campaign seeking retribution, is the “underground” campaign that has arisen. Anonymous letters and emails have been sent to her labeling her “filth” and calling for her to move from Greenwich. This is despicable and this is not what Greenwich should be. Yet this is what has (unintentionally I am sure) been unleashed.

Let’s put this in perspective: Laura should not resign and Laura should not leave Greenwich. Quite the contrary. She is exactly the kind of person we want and need — one who, when they make a mistake, as we all do, is willing to admit it, apologize and move on. Those who think otherwise should take a step back and think about what kind of community we are and what we want to be.

Only a month ago, I stood with the first selectman at my side and told the members of the RTM that I had been very disturbed by a series of public posts that a nominee for a town position had made attacking Democrats, liberals and a host of individuals he did not like or agree with — including people who had a lot in common with me personally. There had been a call from many quarters for us to withdraw our support for his nomination. We did not do so. We actually urged people to support him, not because we thought his posts were appropriate but because he apologized and wanted another chance. Laura Kostin deserves no less.

Indeed Laura’s “sin” was the one-time use of an inappropriate word to describe a candidate at the end of a political race. That in my view is far less troubling than what was at issue with the repeated public posts by a male nominee. Yet a number of the Republican women who are now calling for Ms. Kostin to step down voted to forgive the Republican male for his repeated public statements that were plainly offensive to many, including me. A double standard? I do not know but I am puzzled by their acceptance of an apology for rather serious inflammatory statements on the one hand, while on the other hand rejecting an apology for a single word used at the end of an exhausting political campaign.

Whatever the motives and thoughts of these people are, one thing is clear: while the election season is over, the next election season has apparently begun. Let’s hope this kind of political escapade and this kind of labeling is not a harbinger of things to come. It is time to pause, take a deep breath and move on. There are enough legitimate issues to discuss without becoming sidetracked by political ploys by either side.

Sandy Litvack is a Democratic selectman in Greenwich.

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