Words matter

Supervisor Ron Meyer

Supervisor Ron Meyer

George Orwell, author of “1984,” made the point that language has the power in politics to mask the truth and mislead the public.

In “1984,” in his novel, he coined the phrase “Newspeak,” referring to the abuse of language by the government.

In Loudoun County, we have long had a “transition” area in the County’s Comprehensive Plan, serving as a buffer between western Loudoun (rural) and eastern Loudoun (suburban).

Every Members of the Board of Supervisors knows what that means.

In a recent County study, inviting us to “envision” the future, we were told there is a “market” demand to add 50,000 residential units to our already over-crowded County.

Citizens have said loud and clear – we do not want 50,000 more units – not in the West or the East or the Transition area,

When the “vision” statement for the “new and improved” comprehensive plan was considered by the Board of Supervisors last week, a majority of the Board favored myopia, narrowing the County’s “vision,” and kicking the County’s long-held land use policy of “transition” to the curb.

Supervisor Ron Meyer (R-Broad Run) feigned a misunderstanding of the English language when he said, “As far as saying something’s a transition setting, I’m not sure what that means in the English language.”

If Mr. Meyer suffered a language lapse, he could have consulted a dictionary.

Merriam Webster says a “transition” is the “passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another.”

Loudoun’s “transition” area is a “passage” from suburban development through mixed development to rural development.

Mr. Meyer understood perfectly what and where the transition area was when, as a Board candidate in 2015, he answered the Chamber’s questionnaire, faulting the Comprehensive Plan, including the Transition area, under review and subject to revision now.

Mr. Meyer said, “Current planning does not reflect community realities in this [transition] area and it will be vital to better plan the transportation network and land use polices to ‘fill in the gap’ in a smart and responsible way between suburban areas in Ashburn and Leesburg in this small corner of the Transition Area (underscoring supplied).”

Mr. Meyer’s shoddy mimicry of Orwell’s “Newspeak” sought to eliminate “transition” to compromise any thought or memory of the policy that has preserved and protected the County’s special character.

Nor did Mr. Meyer stop with his faux misapprehension of what “transition” meant.

Mr. Meyer swelled with intolerant and disrespectful humor, when he said, “What is the transition setting, does that have to do with someone’s gender identity?’”

Mr. Meyer is intolerant of the LGBTQ community.

Not too long ago, Supervisor Kristen C. Umstattd’s (D-Leesburg) offered a resolution to respect lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender persons with an LGBT pride month.

Some Board members called it an affront to their beliefs.

Mr. Meyer opposed the resolution with a meaningless substitute.

In the end, the Board decided LGBT was undeserving of pride and respect in Loudoun County.  This indifference has its consequences.

Indeed, it’s a shame and a disgrace that we treat this challenge in such a cavalier fashion since our most fragile victims may be the LGBTQ persons in our schools who suffer discrimination because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Five Members of the County School Board failed to think we needed to act to protect these persons from discrimination and bullying.

Our Board of Supervisors has refused to acknowledge the discrimination against LGBTQ persons and, worse, created a climate of intolerance.

While discussing an unrelated topic, Mr. Meyer went out of his way to trivialize this epidemic of abuse that affects all LGBTQ persons and especially our young.

Holly Patterson came before the School Board not too long ago to inform them that her 16-year-old transgender student tried to commit suicide because the School Board did nothing to protect him from bullies and hateful remarks.

The highly regarded “Journal of Adolescent Health,” after a survey of almost 32,000 students, found that failing to include LGBT in an anti-bullying school policy meant a 225% increase in the likelihood that LGBTQ persons would attempt suicide.

We have had such suicides in Loudoun County.

One study found that LGBT students hear derogatory slurs, on the average, 26 times a day.

It is not reassuring that Mr. Meyer’s inapt sense of “humor,” was broadcast on line, and memorialized in print stories.

Mr. Meyer’s misconduct informs the public and our children that it’s okay to be abusive, that it’s a joke to mistreat an LGBTQ person.

Dear Abigail Van Buren said, “The best index to a person’s character is how he treats people who can’t do him any good, and how he treats people who can’t fight back.”

By that standard, how do we think Mr. Meyer and the Board are doing?

They could revise their vision to reinstate transition as their mission.

They could meet their obligation to protect LGBTQ persons, instead of making fun of them.

But will they?