Liz Gutierrez is a school board member in the West Iso School District, located in Corpus Christi, Texas. Last week, Gutierrez made this Facebook post:
Just in case you can’t tell, that’s a photograph of Ronald Reagan from one of his movies, feeding a bottle to a chimpanzee. The caption reads, “This old photo just brings a tear to me eye! Rare photo of Ronald Reagan babysitting Barack Obama in early 1962.”
In an interview, Gutierrez said that she had no racial intent: “It was freedom of speech. I reposted something I thought was funny. I would of reposted if it was Barack Obama taking care of Ronald Reagan in his elder years. This is no big deal about it.” She added that she would have felt the same if the picture was of, “Obama helping an albino aging monkey, stating Obama taking care of the elderly.” She also said, “It wasn’t intended to offend anybody, it didn’t mean anything, it was just a dumb post and that was it.”
Perhaps the most interesting moment of the interview was when Gutierrez was asked if she was held to a higher standard as an elected official. “Well, why? There is a lot of elected officials doing things on the street. I don’t see you calling them and making news about it.”
According to the news story, Gutierrez removed the Facebook post and made her entire profile private.
In a subsequent news story, the President of the local NAACP described the post as “ugly and derogatory” and wanted to know what would come next, particularly at the next Board meeting on March 30. The story also noted that Gutierrez has apologized for the post.
This was, of course, a stupid, racist post, with obvious racial implications; Gutierrez should never have made this post, particularly as an elected official. That beings me to the second point of this entry, and it’s one that I have made before: public officials, and particularly elected officials, are held to a higher standard. Why? Well, duh: because we represent people. Because our “power” as elected officials is a direct grant from the people who we represent. As such, we can be, and should be, held to a higher standard than the “average” citizen. That’s why what Gutierrez did is, and should be, newsworthy.