Last week, Chris Kolb, the then-vice chairman of Jefferson County’s school board told Republican state Sen. Whitney Westerfield “Fuck you” on Twitter, and it caused a little bit of a local internet sparring match. And then it caught fire and ended with Kolb’s resignation as vice chair.
Westerfield was essentially spreading vague misinformation, with a shallow and poisoning statement about the governor’s mask mandate in schools, tweeting: “Did anyone even speak at all to the psychological and educational harm to students wearing masks all day? I sure didn’t catch it if they did. So frustrating.” A second tweet by Westerfield in that thread started with “I have no study or data, but…”
Kolb responded to the tweet with a simple “Fuck you.”
People got heated about it, arguments ensued, those posts and a few more replies went quasi-viral, Kolb resigned — then the cycle of people’s focus, anger and vitriol floated on.
Kolb remains the elected school board representative for District 2, and he tweeted at LEO that it ended “fine” and that he “Resigned of my own free will. Glad to not have that duty anymore.”
But, he still got dragged through the mud, and felt heat from his superiors, for saying a bad word, and it’s completely absurd. In a situation where one person’s opinion is essentially visceral hysterics to basic COVID safety protocols that affects the actions of their constituents and by proxy the health of the state and beyond, and the other person said a cuss word, we shouldn’t be more upset with the cuss word. Because in the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t matter. We’ll move on. It won’t stick to us. You know what will stick to us: More children in the fucking hospital. Which will happen with more misinformation.
In a statement to the Courier Journal, School board chair Diane Porter said she is “disappointed and deeply concerned” by Kolb’s language and that “I am mindful that our children and the community are always watching.”
First of all, if the worst thing the kids saw on Twitter on any given day is an adult using the word “fuck,” let’s just go ahead and chalk that up to being a success.
Secondly, and much more importantly, yes, the kids are watching: They’re watching us adults butcher a response to a pandemic. They’ve watched us politicize a deadly virus. They’ve watched while people hung an effigy of the governor from a rope. They’ve watched while militias flooded government buildings. They’re watching elected officials say absurd things that fit their faulty narratives.
They’re most likely not learning a great deal of good behavior from the adults, but it’s not because we say “fuck” — which almost all of them have heard. But, they haven’t seen these levels of insanity. That, unfortunately, they’ll learn from.
All that said, I think it’s important to be kind. It’s one of the greatest gifts we can give each other. But, being told you have to fake it and “be professional” when people don’t deserve it: no, fuck that. Really, situations like this are just a ploy to protect the status quo, to subtly express that representatives exist in the clouds of some hierarchical misdirection, when, in reality, they are public servants. They’re pretend authority figure fantasies. To make us think twice about talking too freely. That ramifications exist for some of us. While the people with more power can ramble about lies and even profit from it.
The lesson is the same as always: We should be tougher on politicians, and not just the Republican ones. Because things like this happen so we won’t.