A nondiscrimination ordinance for Chambersburg could lead to a whole lot of legal quicksand

July 29 – The Exploratory Committee for the Chambersburg Borough Council met for the sixth time last night and heard from Pastor Adam Meredith of Antrim Brethren in Christ Church why a nondiscrimination ordinance for the LGBTQ+ community and possible Human Relations Commission in Chambersburg can be a slippery slope.

The pastor said, “When you get into critical theory, it’s more about slogans and buzzwords that are said. There’s no issue with the words that are being said, it’s the underlying ideology and what’s meant by those words. One example that we heard tonight and in previous meetings is diversity, equity and inclusion. Many people hear that at the popular level say I don’t want to be unwelcoming. I better throw my lot in with diversity, equity and inclusion. What critical theorists mean by those things is quite a different thing than what is heard at a popular level. Another thing that happens is there’s a whole lot of emphasis on lived experience and that comes out in phrases like ‘I feel this’ or ‘I perceive that’ and it moves us away from  facts and reality and evidence. Those are criticized as a mere Western form of logic and a form of people who look like me maintaining hegemonic power. It’s a very slippery ground to try to stand on.”

For his full presentation, click here: https://soundcloud.com/newstalk1037fm/29-july-pastor-adam-meredith

Attorney Clint Barkdoll, Pat Ryan and Michele Jansen discussed the meeting from last night during the Big Talk on First News.

Barkdoll said, “He’s synthesized the concerns at a high level that people have been talking about for months that the slippery slope we get on if these kind of ordinances are in fact implemented. I think as he very effectively pointed out there, there’s a lot of ambiguity in the way these things can be defined which opens the door to a lot of problems through enforcement mechanisms. I applaud the committee for welcoming him, letting him speak. I certainly hope that they are really considering what people like him say. That this wasn’t just for show. This was the reported last meeting. I think there will be a vote here shortly to see if they approve it but I thought he made a pretty good argument there in the clip you just played.”

Jansne said, “It was very evident from the other people they brought in that talked about their focus groups they did for the comprehensive plan for Chambersburg. They had a lot of critical theory, ideological type of people doing these focus groups. It was completely obvious if you understand it, if you’ve read about it, from the focus groups they did. Those focus groups were lead in a certain direction by ideologues who have this in their head. So when you look at those results and that’s what you’re basing this all on, you are following a certain ideology and we have to be really, really careful of that. It worries me that Kathy Leedy said maybe in the next week we’ll have our analysis and we’ll have them vote for it at the next meeting. That is not enough time to digest this information in my opinion. It’s very complex and sadly that speaks to the idea that I’m afraid they already have an outcome that they want. I think people need to push back and say wait a minute there’s a lot for you to look at here. You really can’t be making a vote this quickly.”

Barkdoll said, “That is so true about focus groups. Consultants in general in the public sector, that is always a red flag for me, when you see a government body bringing in a consultant because 99.9% of the time, the consultant is going to recommend or give an opinion that already comports with what the government entity wishes to do. And the same is true of these focus groups. They’re led down a path that will endorse what the municipality already wants to do and I’m afraid, too, that could be what you’re seeing happen here.”

Ryan added, “I go back to the Sesame Street example of you remember when you grew up with Sesame Street and it was just about numbers and it was just about colors and all the rest of that stuff. But then people didn’t say no and we are with a mess when it comes to what’s happening in schools and what’s happening in our world right now when all we want our kids to do is learn about reading, writing, arithmetic.”

Jansen pointed out, “The thing that they kept mentioning over and over – including the two that came from the Pennsylvania Youth Congress, which is the biggest LGBTQ+ group pushing this, they’re showing off last night about how they’ve gotten 67 or 69 municipalities to adopt these kind of ordinances. They over and over talked about how this is a symbol. This will put you on the map to look welcoming. There was a whole lot of looking, symbolic. What scares me about that is people say well what’s so harmless about that? So it makes people feel better, so what? But we’re seeing this activism grow stronger and stronger where they actually will go after certain people based on an ideology. That’s why the cake maker’s case is a very important one to bring up. I’m afraid we’re going to keep seeing more and more of that as this ideology grows.”

The Pastor of Central Presbyterian Church last week addressed the Exploratory Committee and said: “Many of the best restaurants in our community are owned by people of different ethnicities and races than I happen to be. I believe this community will thrive economically, culturally, to the extent that we welcome different kinds of people and do all we can to help them find this place to be a wonderful place to live.”

Ryan said, “We already are doing that. It’s already being done. Can you hear me down there?”

Jansen said, “He just admitted we already have all this without a law, without an ordinance.”

Barkdoll said, “I think he’s making the case against it. That Masterpiece Cakeshop, that’s the case from years ago out of Colorado where a very similar ordinance was in place and the baker refused to make the cake for a same sex wedding couple. Do you know that case is still pending? It’s been up to the US Supreme Court. They punted it back. It’s like that there have been millions and millions of dollars spent litigating that case. Again, I think that’s a very cautionary tale. If I’m a small municipality, if you want to see the quicksand that you can find yourself in, there’s a good example.”

Ryan asked about Jeffrey Stonehill, the borough manager for Chambersburg, and his comments from last week’s meeting.

Jansen said, “He said something about we’re enthusiastic with the way you’re going to the exploratory committee in the positive sense of you’re heading in the right direction, looking positively at doing this ordinance.”

Ryan said, “So that’s your feel when he said that, he’s encouraging. I go back to Jeffrey Stonehill. That guy couldn’t beat his drum fast enough over and over to pound his chest going ‘look at me, I’m independent. I belong to all these committees that show that borough managers are supposed to be independent of’ blah, blah, blah. I saw tweet after tweet after tweet of this guy crowing that I’m supposed to be independent. If those words are being used, he said we like the way you’re going, that flavor. That sends up some signals here and honestly that’s not the kind of language I want to hear, if that is indeed true and we’ll get a Right to Know.”

Jansen added, “Also I have to point out that Jack Jones from BOPiC, he actually said that things are so bad here that not only to do we need a Human Rights Commission, we should bring in the ACLU and lawyers and go after the pocketbooks of serious offenders. So here’s an activist who believes in this ideology saying specifically we’re going to after the pocketbooks of offenders. Although he couldn’t give one example last night. Refused to give any examples.”

Ryan asked, “If it is so bad, why are you going to a borough council, why aren’t you going to the police?”

Jansen continued, “Bring in the ACLU, why haven’t you done that already? He says he has evidence, but he wouldn’t tell what it was. Why didn’t you do this already? I don’t understand.”

Barkdoll said, “Why not go to the state Human Relations Commission? Why not go to the EEOC? That would be a question I would be asking one of those witnesses if I was on that panel. I’m open-minded, you come in and say there’s all these issues, how many complaints have you made to the EEOC or the state Human Relations Commission? I’ll bet the answer would be next to zero. Yet, they seem to be saying once this local commission is formed, then we’re going to start making our complaints. It simply is impossible to reconcile those positions.”

Jansen added, “The committee didn’t follow up with anything like that. She let him get away with saying you might be able to recognize who I’m talking about if I dare give you an example. And she let him get away with that. Didn’t have any follow-up.”

Ryan scoffed, “Let’s read the bill after we sign the bill. Brilliant. That’s an old classic out of the Pelosi camp here.”