Florida City Commissioner Anthony Sabatini, an elected official in Eustis, first came to my attention in May. Atheist Joseph Richardson had just delivered a secular invocation at a meeting of the Eustis City Commission, and Sabatini felt the need to correct him.
After Richardson was done speaking, Sabatini asked everyone to stand and bow their heads — to do a proper prayer — since the atheist hadn’t done that. It was the sort of reaction we’ve seen many times from Christian officials after an atheist speaks. (You can only imagine the outcry if an atheist ever attempted to “rebut” a Christian prayer at a government meeting.)
But it gives you an idea of how Sabatini thinks. Only his beliefs matter and he always has to have a say, even while working for the taxpayers.
So this week, when Confederate monuments are coming down in multiple cities, Sabatini posted on Facebook that Eustis would “gladly accept” donations of any of those monuments. His city would “proudly display our nation’s history,” he said.
It’s unclear why the city would want those monuments as opposed to, say, a museum. But even when asked if the city approved of his comment, Sabatini claimed he had support. FROM THE PEOPLE.
Hours later, however, the city’s official Facebook account posted this response:
The Eustis City Commission has taken no formal action regarding Confederate statues. The statements made by Commissioner Sabatini were as an individual.
Please note that Commissioner Sabatini’s Facebook page is not an official page of the City of Eustis. Mr Sabatini utilizes this page as an individual Commissioner and does not represent the Commission as a whole.
In short: Don’t listen to that guy. He’s an idiot. He’s outnumbered on the Commission by those of us who don’t want other cities’ monuments to racism.
I like the response, though it should be noted that Sabatini’s comments weren’t made on his personal Facebook page, but rather the one listing himself as “Anthony Sabatini, Eustis City Commissioner Seat #2.” It may not be a government run page, but it’s the one he uses for government work.
Sabatini told The Daily Commercial he was surprised by the rebuke:
On Friday, Sabatini said he was confused about why the city felt the need to post a disclaimer since he was clearly exercising the freedom of expressing his own personal opinion on the matter.
Sabatini said the “we” in his post is not referring to fellow commissioners but to the residents he represents, many of whom he says share his views.
Really? If “we” represents the residents, then where would these donated monuments be displayed? In their front yards, next to the Confederate flag and burning cross? The implication was that the city would take in and display the statues, all the more reason for the city to step in and say otherwise.
He still doesn’t get that this isn’t about free speech. This is about dumb speech. Even if he posted it on him personal page, he’s still suggesting his city and the people in it want to “honor” proponents of slavery who fought against our nation.
No one’s saying he can’t post what he did, but rather that he should have better judgment. And the other city officials want people to know he doesn’t represent anyone but himself. Blame him. Not them.
We shouldn’t be surprised by any of this. Sabatini has a history of shouting down people with different beliefs from his own, and he doesn’t give a damn what anyone thinks. He’s proud of that description. He shouldn’t be.