Peter Tinsley is a Councilman in Poplar Bluff, Missouri and the latest politician to get busted for making horrendously offensive racist posts on Facebook. The entire incident forced two apologies: one for the initial posts, and then a second apology for the first apology. I’ve never written that statement before, and you know this just can’t be good.
The posts were shared to Tinsley’s personal Facebook page. One is from April 2013, and I can’t quite make out the date on the other one.
Councilman Tinsley was confronted at a Council meeting about the posts. Reverend Tommy Robison, a constituent of Tinsley’s, said that, “To come from a city council [member], a city government official, this is highly unthought of, even in Poplar Bluff Missouri.”
Tinsley, to his credit, immediately apologized: “I apologize from the bottom of my heart.” So far, so good. Then:
“At one time, I was a very active republican, very opposed to Obama.”
Wait, what? He made racist posts since he is a Republican? That’s…that’s a terrible explanation. And, as you can imagine, one that did not sit well with local Republicans. The GOP Chairman in Butler County, Missouri, lambasted Tinsley for his remarks: “It even got more intense when he proceeded to blame the republican party for him thinking like that…Republicans believe everyone should be judged on their qualifications, on their ability.”
This first apology then forced Tinsley to offer a second apology: ““Anything that I have said, that I referred to the activity because I was a Republican, that is not true. It’s not an excuse.”
The posts were so patently racist that they would have made national news regardless of what explanation was made, but Tinsley’s initial response of “Well, sure I’m a racist, I’m a Republican,” only compounded matters. I have said it before and I’ll say it again: Being a Republican or a conservative doesn’t make you a racist, and saying so is offensive to any conservative or Republican. When you make a social media screw-up, even one as offensive as Tinsley’s, the best thing you can do is apologize, delete the offensive posts and promise to learn from the mistake. A follow-up meeting with members of the offended group is a wise move as well, as it shows you are trying to repair relationships in the real world. If Tinsley is truly sorry, this is something I hope he will do.
If you’ll notice, in his explanation, he started with what appears to be a genuine statement of remorse, then moves onto the explanation. When you screw up, sometimes less is more. Say you are sorry and pledge to move forward, but don’t excuse…and don’t blame your political party!
Do you have any thoughts about how Tinsley could have handled this better? Let me know in the comments!