Wilkerson’s advocacy does not forgive her bad behavior

December 5, 2008
By

As an occasional writer of letters to the editor, I try to comment on issues in a thought-provoking way. It appears that I so provoked Dale Mitchell [Letter to the editor, JP Gazette, Nov. 21] that he felt compelled to rewrite and then “quote” my most recent letter [JP Gazette, Nov. 7] to say things that I did not say and then criticize me for his version of my words.

In my letter denouncing the allegedly criminal behavior of deposed state Sen. Dianne Wilkerson, I noted that “support of issues whose time is past due and which have already gained widespread support, such as minority rights, gay marriage and skating rinks, does not make a leader.” By editing out the words I italicized here, Mr. Mitchell changed the tone and meaning of my thoughts and then demonstrated shocking demagoguery in reaction.

For the record, the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 are the two landmark measures on which all subsequent minority and civil rights legislation is based and supported by the courts. Wilkerson’s efforts to conceal criminal records (CORI reform), build hockey rinks and nuclear, biological and chemical labs in minority neighborhoods and secure for Roxbury its fair share of liquor licenses seem to be her landmark contributions to eliminate discrimination.

For the record, the state Supreme Judicial Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2003. Last July, Wilkerson got a lot of publicity as the key backer of the sure-to-pass repeal of the 1913 law prohibiting out-of-state same-sex couples from marrying in the Commonwealth.

Would Mr. Mitchell think the words of the Boston Globe and Herald, the South End News, Gov. Deval Patrick, Senate President Therese Murray, City Council President Maureen Feeney and network television news stories about Wilkerson are “sanctimonious finger-pointing,” as he does my words? Maybe he should comment on her disingenuousness first.

Would Mr. Mitchell gratuitously insult the leaders of the Catholic and Pentecostal churches, the Church of Latter Day Saints, and the 70 percent of African-American voters who voted “yes” to ban same-sex marriage on California’s Proposition 8, and then assert that they never experienced discrimination, which he requires to demonstrate righteousness? Maybe he should try to understand the history and passion of their views and compassionately work to change them, instead of crying homophobia.

Does Mr. Mitchell really mean to suggest that there are issues which forgive Wilkerson’s admitted failure to file income taxes, campaign finance law violations and alleged extortion, bribery, perjury and public corruption? Only Dale Mitchell, Chuck Turner and about 200 write-in voters seemed to think so. The low standards to which we hold our elected representatives guarantee that we will get elected representatives with low standards.

Mr. Mitchell should apologize for defending the quality of leadership of Wilkerson. Whatever else may be said of her, she will be remembered as one of the most notorious voices in our increasingly diverse governance. I hope these words are not too glib or incomprehensible for him.

Bob McDonnell
Jamaica Plain