Letter to the Editor Notes How Claims of “Abuse” Are Used to Exert Control

Posted on June 3, 2018


Some recent critical scrutiny by the author of this blog was inspired by a restraining order petitioned by Warrenton, Virginia Vice Mayor Sunny Reynolds against a constituent and political rival of hers.

Since the March prosecution, Ms. Reynolds has been voted out of office (reportedly by a margin of 2 to 1) and replaced by a male candidate whose campaign stressed change.

What follows quotes former Warrenton town council member Yakir Lubowsky, who reminds readers of the Fauquier Times how being a citizen of the United States is supposed to be different from being a citizen of China (see First Amendment). What Mr. Lubowsky highlights is an emergent social trend that is hardly new but has newly been brought to the fore by social media: assuming the victim pose to silence unfavorable opinions (which has notably been remarked elsewhere in recent months).

The quotation below appeared in a letter to the editor last week and is in response to critical remarks by Ms. Reynolds concerning an earlier letter by Mr. Lubowsky (who writes that he composed two). Ms. Reynolds reports on her campaign website that she has filed a formal complaint with the State Board of Elections, apparently on this basis: “Mr. Lubowsky’s letter…presents nothing more than an accusatory opinion.” The last this writer heard, opinions were protected under our Constitution’s free speech clause.

Mr. Lubowsky (stresses added):

I wrote two letters, a short one that appeared in Fauquier Now [and] was also faithfully reproduced on approximately 1,200 leaflets (distributed lawfully in the spirit of the founding of our Republic); and a longer one which went viral through emails, and appears to have been read by hundreds more.

Both letters only criticize [politician Sunny Reynolds’] conduct, not her personality, and by points detailed and supported in each case by examples. Readers of both my letter(s) and Sunny’s will notice that hers does not respond meaningfully to any of these censures.

Sunny dismisses my criticisms as simple animosity. Yet she points out herself that I worked with her at the town council and voted for her to be vice mayor. (Moreover, as many know, Sunny and I had cordial relations during most of our time as colleagues.) No, my letters are neither angry nor personal, as is evident from even a casual reading. The letters are substantive indictments of Sunny’s injudicious behavior.

Finally, as to style, Sunny characterizes her own energetic engagement as “fervent” or “spirited”; while that of others, especially men, as “bullying.” She plays this card whenever useful, for example forcing our colleague Sean Polster into an absurd “mediation” and bringing specious charges against candidate Keith MacDonald in court.

What Mr. Yubowsky observes is an isolated point on the fringe of a very long shadow that has been steadily eclipsing citizens’ civil rights for decades.

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*Had Mr. Lubowsky’s critical opinions been ad hominem attacks, had they been rude, hurtful, ill-supported, or even off-the-wall, they would still be protected speech in this country.