O’Grady: Newport Beach Councilman Scott Peotter’s Hate Speech Requires Public Rebuke

In response to the Supreme Court’s marriage equality ruling, Newport Beach City Councilman Scott Peotter yesterday posted a bigoted and hateful statement on his website.

And he did so under the official seal of the City of Newport Beach.

As part of his post, Mr. Peotter suggested the LGBT community had appropriated the Rainbow (flag) in an effort to spare ourselves God’s retribution.

He called it “wishful thinking.”

Peotter implicitly promoted the belief that LGBT people should be destroyed.

It is a hateful, disgusting message and Peotter should be condemned by every decent person.

When Peotter was called on to explain his remarks, he doubled down on his bigotry while claiming he is neither homophobic nor against the LGBT community. In defense of his original post, he said “the homosexual movement is taking a symbol that was meant for something else and is corrupting it for their use.”

This is nonsense, and obscures the real issue: his implied suggestion the LGBT community should be destroyed.

Peotter can think whatever he wants to about the use of the rainbow flag. The heart of his message, however, is profoundly disturbing.

For too long, those who have condemned our community’s fight for justice and marriage equality have assured us they aren’t against the LGBT community; instead, they are against the expansion of LGBT rights.

This is, at best, rhetorical hair splitting, and at worst, a cover for bigotry.

If one believes the LGBT community’s civil rights should be limited, if one argues the LGBT community doesn’t deserve the same rights and liberties enjoyed by every other American, you’re a homophobe.

It is that simple.

Imagine making a similar statement about any other community, “I really like the Latino/Asian/Black/Jewish/Muslim community but they certainly don’t deserve full and equal civil rights.”

It is hypocritical and bigoted, and one would be rightly condemned.

Peotter isn’t the only public official/leader in the community to engage in such duplicity.

Pastor Rick Warren has said he has, “many, many gay friends” and he “doesn’t think they have the right to marry.”

You don’t get to have it both ways; you don’t get to eat your gay wedding cake and call for legalized discrimination.

In the last election, Young Kim’s campaign used an incredibly transphobic video to attack Sharon Quirk-Silver and voters elected Kim.

Peotter and his ilk, have said criticism of their hate speech is an equally repugnant action, and an attempt to enforce political correctness and speech codes.

Mr. Peotter, Rick Warren, and Young Kim all enjoy the constitutionally protected right to say whatever they please.

That does not, however, make condemnation of their hate speech an attempt to limit their 1st Amendment rights.

Quite the opposite, in fact: We should hear their bigotry and hate speech expressed in a public forum.

It gives us an insight into their character, and it offers others the right to condemn their speech.

Before coming to the LGBT Center OC, I was the Regional Director of the Anti-Defamation League. I spent my days monitoring neo-Nazi activity in the county, and condemning their virulent hate speech. At the same time, I passionately defended the white supremacists’ right to engage in such speech.

Hate speech and the spread of hateful ideas won’t stop until people of good character stand up and demand it stops.

Peotter implicitly called for the destruction of the LGBT community: That is vile hate speech and he should be condemned by every decent person in the county.

Only then will we begin to move beyond hate.

Kevin S. O’Grady, Ed.D. is Executive Director of the LGBT Center OC.

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  • Paula Ann McCabe

    I don’t have anything against Christians. I just don’t think they should corrupt government with their delusional beliefs. See how that works?

  • RyanCantor

    Exuse me son?

    You best check yourself before you wreck yourself.

  • Roger Butow

    Temper Fi, my brother Marine…but I think you got a little off track, off message here.

    Having been in law enforcement & a Marine, you know about conduct “under the color of law.” This includes off-duty behavior as you also well know.

    Public officials are held to the “under the color of office” parameters, once again whether on the dais or on the campaign trail. Abusing a public pulpit is just that: Being a bully.

    You post using a photo (YOU?) of someone in a uniform, exclaim that you’ve earned the right to post such a picture. Although not presently serving, retired I assume, you are intimidating or seizing high moral/legal ground by posting such an “under the color of law” photo.

    Not sure how/why you & the others got into a “Thingy-Measuring Contest,” I thought the most relevant part that disturbed me personally was the auspice, the appearance or act of a City-sanctioned statement.

    Mr. Poetter, via the City seal for Newport Beach, implied authority, and it does skirt the margins of malfeasance to do so:
    “Color of office refers to an act usually committed by a public official under the appearance of authority, but which exceeds such authority. An affirmative act or omission, committed under color of office, is sometimes required to prove malfeasance in office.”

    It’ll take a malfeasance allegation or something related (legal filing) challenge to sort this out. Considering he has openly gay staff, that out to be amusing—and embarrassing to the City. Wonder how they feel? Will other Council members step up or step aside, avoid the tempest?

    As for that 1st Amendment conundrum, sure, go ahead and yell FIRE! in a crowded theater but be prepared to meet a legal wall as David Zenger (who I also have never met) posed it: Free expression and content are two different animals.

  • Roger Butow

    Ooooops, forgot to mention those usurpers of God, the Irish.
    After all, their leprechauns have a pot of gold waiting at the end of a “Rainbow,” obviously though Papist or Protestant, an entire country, blasphemers all.

    Once you start on a slippery slope of commonly accepted, generic meanings, memes (cultural themes), etc., there’s no end to the self-inflicted potential.
    There was once upon a time a kind-hearted, goofy but harmless clown we all watched on local LA feeds in the 50s: Bozo The Clown & his cartoon show.

    Now a “bozo” has become a commonly used term for anyone acting like an out-of-control, loose cannon idiot. The original Bozo was NOT a “bozo,” but that’s what happens with languages: They change, they morph, original meanings get lost or altered subsequently.

    You, Mr. Poetter, on the other hand, are acting like a “bozo.” We’re a forgiving culture, part of our Judeo-Christian roots, admit you made a mistake asap, reflect remorse and contrition, and you might even find more fellow travelers if you’re planning on higher office.

    Leading with your straight righteous hand, you then were vulnerable to the Philly (left-hand) rainbow hook, get it?

    Last, I must concur with several commenters here: I didn’t see any direct call to arms, the wholesale destruction of the LGBT populace. What I read was a flaccid, pitiful attempt to construe, to co-opt rainbows with a singular meaning, as God’s signal, His threat of calamity.

    Which then triggers this: Since when does a Newport Beach City Council person allege to know the mind, wrathful ways or intended punishment of our God?

  • Roger Butow

    An arch of colors formed in the sky in certain circumstances, caused by the refraction and dispersion of the sun’s light by rain or other water droplets in the atmosphere.
    (A) Any display of the colors of the spectrum produced by dispersion of light.
    (B) A wide range or variety of related and typically colorful things.
    “a rainbow of medals decorated his chest”

    First, it is weird that under the color of authority this guy opened his yapper. It’s one thing to be thought a bigoted fool at your FACEBOOK account, quite another at what seems to be a city-sanctioned or related website.

    Second, it’s also weird that this Councilman believes that a rainbow is an announcement from God. Then he filters that through his own confirmation biased brain housing group. It’s a weather phenomenon that the strict interpreting Biblical community, stuck 2,000 years ago in a Luddite time warp don’t seem to comprehend.

    Arguing that such a natural occurrence is solely within the domain or purview of God-sent messages is downright “flat Earth,” binary (limited) logic.

    Third, as anyone who does a simple online search can find, the above 2 common usage examples that follow the physical description, the actual conditions/causal factors that create them, are accepted common phrases.

    Obviously, although I’m not a part of it, the LGBT community has chosen the 2nd metaphor of usage: Their sexual orientations are VARIOUS (variety) and they’ve bonded as a socio-political force to be reckoned with. Yes, they’re a minority, but they’re just being practical in their communal tactics.

    Mr. Peotter, on the other hand, comes off as screechy and not very realistic or pragmatic—Unless of course this is a MSM attention-grabber, he is seeking a higher office and hopes to leverage neo-cons and the homophobic, i. e., a candidate running on a religious right platform.

    May I suggest to Mr. Poetter that he listen 3-4 times to “She’s Like A Rainbow” by the Rolling Stones, maybe they’re part of a conspiracy going back 40 years? I don’t remember any outrage back when it was released.

  • OCservant_Leader

    Mr Peotter- Sir you have hate in your heart and you are spreading it like a virus.

    You also have poor judgement in revealing you are a homophobic bigot in your official role as an elected official.

    We cannot keep silent and allow dangerous people like you continue to taint the hearts and minds of our vulnerable children.

    As a public service – You should be removed from public office.

    • Steve W.

      How tolerant and inclusive of you.

  • Steve W.

    It would help if O’Grady published the passage in which he maintains Peotter “suggested the LGBT community should be destroyed.” All we have is O’Grady interpretation of a passage we aren’t allowed to read for ourselves. I’d like to judge for myself.

    O’Grady’s extreme intolerance for opinions different from his own is disturbing. And it’s disturbing that publisher Norberto Santana cheers on O’Grady’s attempt to bully people who support traditional marriage into silence by attacking them as homophobes. Reporters should be the first ones defending free speech, not encouraging intellectual thuggery.

    • Hey there. I saw Councilman Peotter’s remarks as way over the top. Even hinting at destroying LGBT people has no place in a democratic debate, especially from an elected official. And I do think that should be called out. That’s my opinion as publisher. Civil society should be just that, civil. If you want to submit an editorial arguing on behalf of traditional marriage and pointing out where the Supremes are wrong, and underscore that’s not a homophobic position, happy to publish your opinion or anyone else who differs on the issue. All opinions are welcome. Hate speech is another thing.

        • Steve W.

          Thank you for that. I didn’t see it before my previous comment. I still think it’s an enormous stretch to claim Peotter is saying gay people should be destroyed.

          He’s wrong in painting marriage as a Judeo-Christian tradition. Marriage as between a man and a woman has been the norm in all societies since time immemorial, and is still be norm in most of the world. Was everyone who ever lived a bigot and a homophobe until 10 or 20 years ago?

      • Steve W.

        I had to go elsewhere to actually see what Peotter wrote. It was clumsy and if he was trying to make an argument against same-sex marriage, it was ineffective. However, it is a huge stretch to claim his statement about the rainbow is hinting or implying that gay people should be destroyed. You cannot reasonably draw that conclusion..

        O’Grady used this platform to attack anyone who thinks marriage is between a man and a woman as a bigot and a homophobe and engaged in hate speech. That isn’t civil discussion; that’s bullying. It’s designed to shut people up. I suppose that’s one way to try and win an argument, but not a very civil or democratic way.

  • Barbara Peters

    It does matter when someone is known to contribute large sums of money – $1.4million for Prop 8 alone – then that same person contributes large campaign contributions – $25,000 to Team Newport i.e Scott Peotter’s team. Opinions are one thing, but the power to buy an election is something different.

  • Ltpar

    Mr. Grady, I am a decent person and I definitely do not condemn Scott Peotter for expressing his opinions under the First Amendment. Why is it that you believe that members of the Gay Community have the right to shout their message to the heavens, even though it offends some people. Meanwhile, let a conservative dare to speak up against your position and you want to label them a bigot. I am a big fan of the Constitution and believe all sides have a right to speak their position on any issue. I hate to pop your bubble Mr. Grady, but while the Supreme Court many have ruled in favor of gay marriage, you will never force that belief on all the people. There are many who strongly believe a higher court who will one day give it’s ruling. As for myself, I will leave the judging to that higher power.

    • David Zenger

      The right to express something and the content of what is said are two completely different things. Nothing is being “forced” on anybody. You can still marry your fourth (female) wife, if you want. Nobody is making you marry a man.

      Yeah, let’s leave it to a “higher power” whatever that may be. And in the meantime please shut your pie hole.

      • Ltpar

        Hey dirt bag, how bout we get together and you shut it for me, that is if you have any balls?

        • David Zenger

          Oh, no another big internet hero. With a wig.

        • RyanCantor

          . . . posted while wearing a LEO uniform.

          There’s a statement on the times.