Last week, state Sen. Ray Scott, a Republican from Mesa County, settled a lawsuit brought by a constituent, Anne Landman, whom he blocked on his official Facebook account after she shared on it a link to her blog post, “Ray Scott Shocks Constituents with Displays of Poor Grammar, Lack of Knowledge in Social Media Exchanges.”
According to Landman’s post, Scott had an “exchange via iPhone” with Sydney Ludwick, who, in the exchange, and according to Landman, is a biologist who specializes in the conservation of endangered species.
On her website, Ludwick says she is an artist; the chair of Young Democrats of Douglas County; living with depression, anxiety and fibromyalgia; and that a “major component to Sydney’s life is her sexual and romantic orientations. Sydney identifies as a gray-romantic asexual. This means that Sydney rarely experiences romantic attraction and never experiences sexual attraction.”
There is nothing about being a biologist.
Ludwick told Scott, “I would love to work with you on reducing our carbon emissions ... Please help to move to reducing global climate change.”
Scott responded, verbatim, “I respect your ideological idea’s, but the science is clear. You have cleaner water, air and mortality rates brought to you by fossil fuels.”
Scott likes fossil fuels.
But the misplaced apostrophe in “idea’s” and the redundancy of “ideological idea’s,” we guess, is what led Landman to write that Scott was displaying his “practically-trademarked punctuation and spelling errors,” adding it worries his constituents that he is so ignorant.
It was rude. It may have been deserved; we do not know. Landman doubled down by posting the link to the post on Scott’s Facebook page, a professional/government page called “Ray Scott for Colorado.”
So, in 2017, Scott blocked Landman. And the ACLU of Colorado sued in federal court on Landman’s behalf, hoping a judge would issue a ruling that would bar any public official from blocking anyone on social media from an official account.
Instead, Scott settled, agreeing to pay the ACLU of Colorado $25,000 in attorney’s fees, money paid by Colorado taxpayers.
More or less, the same thing happened with a case brought against Senate President Leroy Garcia, a Democrat from Pueblo, who was sued for blocking someone from his official Facebook page earlier this year and settled for $25,000 in taxpayers’ money. It happened with former Lafayette Mayor Christine Berg and Thornton City Councilor Jan Kulmann, who settled for $20,000 and $30,000, respectively.
“I hope the courts soon come to a conclusion on this silliness,” Scott said after he settled, “as it has created an opening for abusive litigation like the ACLU just engaged in.”
It seems to us the courts did come to a conclusion when they ruled President Trump could not block people on social media. And while we do not always see eye to eye with the ACLU, we still think politicians of all stripes, and especially here in Colorado, have got to stop using it as a punching bag for their own inability to legislate about the homeless or to take a rhetorical punch.
The ACLU is not the villain here.
If there is anything for Colorado politicians to blame, surely it is their own disregard for the rights of all and their thin skins. Of course, some of their constituents, and activists from the opposing party, can be annoying and even obnoxious. Are they just supposed to take it?