The other day, I posted about Sam Killay, an atheist from Claremont, New Hampshire, who was troubled by the Nativity scene and menorah display in a public park. He was right to be troubled. Those are illegal, at least if no other displays are allowed in the same area.
Killay suggested the city council move the displays across the street, to a private church, but they didn’t do it. Then he said that if this was going to be a free-for-all, he wanted his own displays included in the area — maybe an inverted cross or a pentagram (though he’s not a Satanist).
The city council hasn’t decided how to handle his request. They’ll discuss it at their next meeting in a couple of weeks. But the choice ought to be simple: Do they want to promote religion and open themselves up to a lawsuit, or do they want to maintain religious neutrality? Killay is urging them to take the safer, neutral approach.
Now, things have gotten worse.
One of the city council members — a Donald Trump sycophant who Facebook wall is a non-stop parade of right-wing memes — is now doxxing Killay and his wife.
Ward 3 Councilor Jonathan Stone initially shared a news story about this controversy, but his comments underneath that post went well beyond acceptable behavior. He posted screenshots of Killay’s wife, their Facebook pages, and their places of work… all while making an anti-trans joke and laughing it up with a white nationalist.
I’ve blacked out some of the information below, but as of this writing, the post is still up on Stone’s page.
“As a city councilor, he is expected to conduct himself in a certain manner because his conduct represents the city,” Killay said in an interview on Thursday. “There is none of that with Mr. Stone. He is the furthest thing from impartial as you can possibly be. And honestly, he is being downright menacing.”
“I’m aware of a thread on Facebook and (Killay’s) family has alerted police to it,” said Police Chief Mark Chase, who declined to say whether a criminal investigation is ongoing, or whether any action has been taken.
But Stone argues that none of the posts threaten Killay, and are only meant to “acknowledge who he is.” He also blamed Killay for starting the debate by “threatening” the city to change its tradition.
It’s not just Stone who’s the problem. One of the other commenters, Jeremy Herrell, is a white nationalist who was identified by the Anti-Defamation League as speaking at a “free speech” rally in Boston, shortly after Charlottesville. His YouTube channel has two videos, “Maga Like a Mofo” and “Build the Wall,” with approximately 50,000 views total.
Herrell told Stone, “They are about to get the attention their loser asses want,” adding, “I will need yours and others help sharing out the video that I do later.” Which is to say he wants a government official’s help to spread his hateful propaganda.
Stone didn’t reply, but he gave that comment a “like.”
Stone’s entire argument with this thread seems to be that a man who wants to defend the Constitution deserves to be exposed, along with his wife (who has nothing to do with this), so that both of them get nasty messages from other Trump supporters.
It worked. I spoke with Sam earlier today to find out how he’s doing and what he makes of the doxxing, and he told me his wife has received harassing messages. In his case, his privacy settings don’t allow strangers to post anything on his page, but he’s gotten an unusual amount of friend requests from strangers. His wife, however, has received nasty messages from a number of people. It frightened her. She didn’t ask for this.
The irony is that she didn’t even fully agree with Sam’s perspective on the displays, but now she fully agrees that the Nativity scene and menorah should come down. But not necessarily for Establishment Clause reasons. She says that if the city council members like Stone are acting like this in their efforts to keep Baby Jesus around, then “they don’t deserve to have it.” They’re being so “un-Christian,” she argued, that they’re not worthy of whatever Jesus represents.
Sam added that even if she wasn’t entirely on board with him at first, Stone’s actions have made her full of “righteous rage.”
I asked him if he had a preference about the city council’s decision. Did he want his displays included in the mix, or would he rather have all the religious displays taken down? He’s hoping for the latter. Keep government out of religion, period. But with the Freedom From Religion Foundation set to enter the picture, too, the city will have some important decisions to make:
Do they want to avoid a lawsuit?
Do they want to deal with displays that might make people uncomfortable?
How will they punish Stone for his awful treatment of his own constituents?
What they’re doing right now is a travesty. They need to clean up their own act before trying to write off a citizen who’s trying to keep them honest.
(Image via Shutterstock. Thanks to Brian for the link)