On learning new things

This is what we have learned about the Sterling Supervisor, Eugene Delgaudio: Not only is he the kind of person who would refer to other human beings as “it”; he is also 1) a liar; 2) the most pitiable sort of coward, and 3) quite possibly mentally unstable.

We already posted video of Mr. Delgaudio’s shameful remarks at the January 5 board meeting, during which he and his ally Supervisor Waters carried on for nearly 40 minutes about what should have been a completely non-controversial matter. The Loudoun Times-Mirror described his performance as “sustained and unrestrained demagoguery targeting human beings.” In making what the Independent called “borderline-incomprehensible arguments,” Mr. Delgaudio repeatedly used epithets like “men in dresses,” “freaks,” “fruity,” and “bizarre.”

Those of us who have been exposed to Mr. Delgaudio for some time found this language unremarkable, which is a sad commentary in and of itself. But then he did something else. He sent an email to residents of the Sterling District and the local media that contained this sentence:

The board voted six yes, Waters and Delgaudio “no”, with York abstaining, to add “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the hiring of employees which means if a man dressed as woman wants a job, you have to treat “it” the same as a normal person. [Emphasis mine, but “scare quotes” in original.]

It is standard operating procedure for Mr. Delgaudio to make offensive, dehumanizing statements about the people he doesn’t like. However, those who received this particular statement recognized that a new and unacceptable line had been crossed. When he was asked by reporters to explain his use of the word it, he said that it was “hyperbole,” and that he would “make no apologies.”

So: As of early last week, Mr. Delgaudio was confirming that yes, he did refer to a hypothetical person as “it,” and that this was “hyperbole.”

Although Mr. Delgaudio forwarded his January 6 email to the local media, he had not shown his colleagues on the board the courtesy of sharing it with them. They have seen it now. Over the weekend, I learned that Sally Kurtz (Catoctin) had a long conversation with him during which he agreed to issue a public apology.

Then, on the evening of January 17, Mr. Delgaudio issued a hasty email revision with the parenthetical “this will make my intent clear.” Not a retraction, not an apology, but a revision, claiming to have said something other than what he actually said.

In his comments during this morning’s board meeting, he repeated that claim, “correcting” his statement to read “..which means if a man dressed as woman wants a job, you have to treat “it” the hiring of this man the same as a normal person a man who wears normal clothing.”

This illustrates the “liar” and “most pitiable sort of coward” part. Stevens Miller (Dulles) nailed it perfectly in his board comment; “The ‘scare quotes’ tell the story,” and the attempted revision is “an insult to every man, woman and child who can read the English language.”

An actual apology for what Mr. Delgaudio did, if there were one, might look something like this:

I sincerely apologize for the words I used in my email to my constituents and to the media. Referring to other human beings as “it,” suggesting that they are less than human, is something no one should ever do, least of all an elected official. I deeply regret that, in my frustration over a policy disagreement, I resorted to saying such a horrible thing.

I now realize that my choice of this language was the product of my own very wrong thinking. I confess that I know next to nothing about the people to whom I was referring, and I promise to seek education about what it means for a person to be transgender. Even if I still disagree with the choices some members of this community make, that disagreement will be formed on the basis of factual information.

That would require Mr. Delgaudio to understand that he was wrong, something he appears incapable of doing. All that he understands is that he crossed a line and it got him in trouble. Like a small child caught in a transgression, he is trying to lie his way out of taking responsibility and admitting his wrongdoing. The pathos of watching a grown man behave this way is difficult to describe.

Beyond that, I think we may err in assuming that Mr. Delgaudio’s behavior is calculated, and not the product of emotional instability. He does like to perform for the camera and paint himself as the victim – we expect to shortly receive a third email in which he expresses his outrage at the way he was treated (“stomped on”) at today’s meeting, and he was nearly in tears at the observation that he lied about the intent of his statement – but I’m no longer so confident that he is in control of himself and that this is all an act.

His failure to realize that referring to other members of the community as “it” would be shocking and unacceptable, his failure to realize that there is a qualitative difference between mere “hyperbolic” name-calling and stating outright that some members of the community are less than human – these indicate to me a person who is not firmly in touch with reality. Likewise this statement from the second email, just one of the truly odd pronouncements made by Mr. Delgaudio about this topic: “I am not against Dustin Hoffman dressing up as Tootsie in the movie by the same name. But if we allow Loudoun County to hire men who wear dresses, we may someday require men to wear dresses.

Does he believe that this statement might be true? Does he believe that the recipients of his message might believe this statement to be true? Does he just want this quote to appear in print? I don’t know, but none of those explanations say “mental stability” to me, and I can’t come up with any others. Maybe you can.

Most of the other supervisors commented eloquently on their disgust with Mr. Delgaudio’s behavior. He had a genuine tantrum when he wasn’t given the floor to “respond,” and continue talking about the issue – most of his colleagues felt that he had already had ample opportunity to make his views known – and he wouldn’t stop interrupting and shouting over the chairman. I feared at one point that he would have to be removed from the board room. The video will be posted when it becomes available – must see to appreciate, not just for Mr. Delgaudio’s otherwise hard-to-believe outburst, but to see Supervisors Burton, Kurtz, McGimsey, Burk and Miller draw a badly needed line and stand up for decency. Enough is enough.

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7 Responses to On learning new things

  1. liz says:

    From the transcript today on Prop 8 Trial Tracker, “S: By not having g and l present in legislature, people can say amazing stuff. Coburn says that gays and lesbians are the greatest threat to American civilization today. Some public officials have compared gay marriage to marrying a box turtle. Cannot imagine any other group that receives such animus in public. When someone in position of authority communicates that this is okay. When two US senators compare gay marriage to bestiality, that is not the fringe, that is the US senate.”

    Delgaudio’s words contribute to violence against people who are GLBT. I can’t wait for the day when enlightened people throw all the bigots out of office.

  2. David says:

    Now there’s yet another flagrant lie from Eugene (why am I not surprised?) In a letter to the editor published in the Times-Mirror, he claims that the board acted contrary to “our own county attorney’s opinion.” Um, no. Watch the video. Jack Roberts explicitly said “I have formed no independent opinion on this matter.”

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  5. Charles Eldredge says:

    It seems the writer is taking liberties with interpretation…something I have seen a lot of in this confusion of gender and sexual orientation issue. I am not defending Mr Delgaudio (I suspect he is in it for the money), but when I read his statement, I took it to mean that he did not know what to call a man in woman’s clothing….very common when referring to something that is confusing and does not fit into either category

  6. David says:

    Charles, I appreciate your generosity of spirit. But, setting aside the fact that phrases like “man in a dress” are generally considered to be epithets even when used to refer to an actual crossdresser, and the fact that he wasn’t referring to a crossdresser, since that would never be a workplace issue in the first place and so has nothing to do with the EEOP issue, it is never, under any circumstance, acceptable to refer to another human being as “it.” That language is exclusively used by those who wish to convey that the person to whom they are referring is less than human.

    But I do agree that there is considerable confusion with regard to accurate language about gender variance. One problem I see quite frequently is the tendency to conflate crossdressing (occasional wearing of clothing associated with the gender one is not) with the process of correcting an incorrect assignment of gender (which would obviously require one to wear the clothing associated with the gender one actually is). When you think about it, these two phenomena are opposites, and should explicitly not be confused with each other. But when we end up using confusing terms like “gender identity,” which is not distinguishable in meaning from “gender,” I can understand where peoples’ confusion comes from. Thanks for your comment.

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