As we mentioned on this site before, Bradley County (TN) Sheriff Eric Watson is the subject of a lawsuit from American Atheists because his office won’t stop preaching Christianity on the department’s official Facebook page. Even after multiple warnings, they continued doing it.
Watson was also called out for deleting comments on Facebook that weren’t favorable to his point of view — which makes you wonder when he gets any real work done.
For his latest trick, Watson and his thin skin are threatening to file a counter lawsuit against American Atheists:
Watson has freely admitted to having removed some of the postings because of their “vile nature” and being “unsuitable for a family-friendly website.”
“I still defend those actions,” he said. “There are different ways things can be taken off Facebook. If it uses any profanity it’s automatically deleted. Users of Facebook can flag comments and if Facebook gets so many of those, they come down until they have a chance to review the complaint. Sometimes, Facebook just deletes it because it violates their policy. And, we can delete and the person who posted it can delete it as well.”
“I am very much thinking about a counter lawsuit,” he said. “As an individual, I fully support a counter suit against anyone who gives false information on another individual or an agency. And I will, and am going, to consider a counter suit.”
Of course, there’s nothing “false” about saying Watson is promoting faith; American Atheists has the screenshots to prove it. As for his motivation in deleting the comments, saying he was just getting rid of ones that were “unsuitable for a family-friendly website” is incredibly vague. By that logic, he could just say comments he deems unpatriotic or critical of his pro-God message aren’t worthy of remaining up.
So go ahead. Bring on the counter lawsuit. Let’s see what happens when a whiny Sheriff cares more about being a fake Christian martyr than remaining professional and representing everyone in his community instead of just the people who share his faith.
By the way, Watson didn’t even try to maintain neutrality on this matter:
“In my history of serving the public since 2006 as an elected official, in both capacities as state legislator and Bradley County sheriff, I have posted numerous items about religious activities,” Watson said.” I have never been condemned or challenged because of it. The challenges to this office have become more numerous since April.”
To paraphrase: “I broke the law for a long time and no one cared. Why am I being punished now?” Because it was wrong then, and it’s wrong now, and someone was finally willing to stand up to a Christian bully.
That person, who is listed as “Jane Doe” in AA’s lawsuit, is now in danger of having her real name exposed. The Cleveland Banner found it in the public records and published it, but what’s really telling is how little Watson cares about the danger she might be in:
Referring to the “Jane Doe” lawsuit, Watson also believes it is unfair for a person to sue the county for monetary damages behind a cloak of anonymity.
“The citizens of this county deserve to know who is trying to take their money,” Watson said.
This isn’t a money grab. This is an attempt to correct his behavior. And when you’re an atheist fighting against the Christian majority in conservative communities, anonymity might protect your reputation, your safety, and your job. (Also, to state the obvious, the plaintiff wouldn’t get any money unless Watson is found guilty… so saying that someone is taking the taxpayers’ money is really another way of admitting your guilt.)
It’s just incredibly vindictive behavior from a sheriff who admits that he uses his government office as an extension of his church.
(Thanks to Brian for the link)