Mountain View Voice

Opinion - April 5, 2013

Anti-Semitism rears its ugly head in Mountain View

Christopher Parkinson's bigoted rants against women and Jews are an embarrassment to Mountain View and should be met with his swift removal from his appointed seat on a city committee.

Parkinson, the chair of the Mountain View Visual Arts Committee, recently unleashed a misogynistic and anti-Semitic tirade against City Council member Ronit Bryant on the Voice's Town Square forum, using language reminiscent of Nazi propaganda.

Apparently provoked by mildly disparaging comments that Bryant made about the placement of two large segments of the Berlin Wall that were donated to the city, Parkinson revealed his deeply disturbing views of women and what he calls "the Rothschild mind." In doing so, he evoked a hateful anti-Jewish conspiracy theory that's more than 100 years old and discredited by all but the most die-hard of anti-Semites.

When the Voice questioned Parkinson about his posting, which was removed from the website for its offensive language, he first defended it, then said he would deny it, then expanded upon it — in writing.

He followed up by threatening legal action to harass city officials, saying that as a law school graduate, he could file court documents that would cause the city to spend "hundreds of thousands in legal fees just answering."

"This city has deep pockets and I will make them bleed if my 1st Amendment rights are violated," Parkinson said in an email he sent to Bryant.

Naturally, Parkinson is free to hold whatever personal views he chooses, no matter how odious. But evoking the freedom of speech guaranteed by the First Amendment doesn't mean that the city can't take action to remove him from his office as an appointed city official. Besides showing very poor judgment, he has clearly violated the city's code of conduct. The code requires elected and appointed officials to "refrain from abusive conduct, personal charges or verbal attacks upon the character or motives of the City Council, the boards, commission, committees, staff and the public," according to Mayor John Inks, who sent Parkinson a letter last week admonishing him for his comments.

Bryant, perhaps understandably, has refused to comment publicly about Parkinson's attacks. One would hope that other city officials would be more vocal in their rejection of Parkinson's disturbing comments, but other than City Manager Dan Rich saying in an email that the city "does not condone Mr. Parkinson's comments," only council member Margaret Abe-Koga has spoken out. At last week's council meeting, Abe-Koga said, "As someone who has received hate mail for the color of my skin, I need to say this is unacceptable. This is not a community that tolerates this, I believe."

We share that belief. One of Mountain View's greatest strengths is its diversity, and the city deserves representatives who respect the contributions of all of its residents, regardless of race, gender, ethnicity or creed. To remain silent when any group is vilified or attacked is to do a great disservice to every member of the Mountain View community.

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