In North Carolina, the Board Chair of a the Rowan County Housing Authority has been cleared of acting in any discriminatory way, despite racist Facebook posts.
Here’s what happened: In North Carolina, Moral Monday protests have been occurring since 2012, in protest of a number of laws passed by Republicans who control the state’s government. Malcolm “Mac” Butner is the board chair of the Rowan County Housing Authority. After seeing a picture of Moral Monday protests, Butner commented:
This, incidentally, was the tip of the iceberg for Butner’s controversial posts. He also used Facebook to attack liberals, Hillary Clinton, illegal immigrants and advocate for “fighting again and rid[ing] us of these damn Yankee invaders,” complete with a picture of the Confederate flag.
Butner has since deleted his Facebook page.
Naturally, the post was met with protests by many. The NAACP called for his resignation, attacking the comments as “deplorable and discriminative.” Butner’s response was that his posts weren’t based on racism, but on his “conservative principles.” Side note: That’s offensive to me, on behalf of conservatives, and I’m pretty progressive. All but a very, very small minority of conservative’s I know are not racist, and these comments clearly are – Butner’s comments unfairly malign conservatives.
Butner also accused his opponents of running a “political smear campaign,” saying:
I’m the target of a political smear campaign by those who wished to derail my signature gathering to get on the ballot to run for Rowan County Commissioner. It’s absurd–everybody who knows me, knows I’m not prejudiced. I’m an ardent supporter of Dr. Ben Carson and believe he would make a fine president. Think the world of Bill Cosby. Often quote one of our greatest conservatives Thomas Sowell. Everybody I know has heard me tout Thelma Lucky’s Restaurant at the Mall. As for women I have great admiration for them.
Anyway, last month, Rowan County Commissioner’s voted to begin an internal investigation to determine if Butner had acted in a discriminatory way as board chair of the housing authority. The results are in, and according to the investigation, the answer is no. According to the Chairman of the Rowan Board of Commissioners, Jim Sides, “That investigation substantiated that Mac did absolutely nothing against the law, that he violated no one’s civil rights.”
In his capacity as board chair of a public housing agency, Butner held a quasi-public office, which made his comments fair game. He clearly showed disdain for African-Americans and made comments that could easily be viewed as racist. The broader lesson here is that social media posts can come back to bite you if you hold any sort of public office, even if it’s only a volunteer board chair.
Any thoughts to add? Let me know in the comments!