Madore misses the mark on “hate speech”

Clark County Councilor David Madore

Clark County Councilor David Madore

Clark County Councilor David Madore has the occasional habit of providing a definition to make a point, so let me take a page from his book.

Hate speech is any way of communicating in a way that offends, threatens or insults a group based on race, color, religion, country of origin, sexual orientation, disability or other traits. That’s from the American Bar Association.

Madore went into his weekly ramble about the Constitution and America and freedom of speech on Tuesday, but when he used the words “hate speech,” my head snapped up.

“I never held office before, and I just love our Constitution. I love our Bill of Rights. I love our form of government that states over the Declaration of Independence here that the consent of the governed is really the root, is really the core. Private property rights are really those things that cause us to be strong. I love those. I love freedom of speech. But I also see that freedom of speech can be used wisely, and we can sow unity and collaboration and encouragement and positive, and we can engage in ways that we embrace diversity. In other words we’ll talk about issues.”

“We disagree?” he continued. “Well, let’s talk about it. Let’s work that out. We might not see eye-to-eye, but at least we’ll have good will behind it. One of the things that we see here, and I don’t want us to become desensitized to it, is the kind of hate speech that we see happening here by a small number of citizens that week after week after week is nonsense. It’s distortions. It’s lies. It’s slander. It’s libel, and I don’t want us to get desensitized to it, and we shouldn’t be speaking evil of each other.”

Madore went on for several more minutes, but I think you get the point.

There have certainly been comments in recent weeks at county council meetings that have left me fuming. Ed Barnes on Tuesday suggested that Madore get a mental health evaluation, and in recent weeks, quarry opponent David Rogers called Councilor Tom Mielke a bad Christian. Those points are inappropriate. They’re rude. They make those two men sound like jerks. Not to mention that they cheapen their public testimony.

I am skeptical that Madore, a white, affluent, intelligent, heterosexual male, has been a victim of hate speech at any point in his life. I’m skeptical that he’s ever felt in danger or like his very way of life was threatened solely as a function of who he is. So to flippantly draw a line between insults and hate speech? Madore is missing the mark.

Kaitlin Gillespie

Kaitlin Gillespie

I'm the education reporter at The Columbian. Get in touch at or 360-735-4517.

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