Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price is not apologizing after telling citizens they are "white" and can "Go to hell" (and calling one person "fat boy") during a public meeting Tuesday. According to him, the exchange was appropriate because he thought he was being called a racial slur. And it's not the first time he's had an outburst at such a meeting:
CBSDFW.com explains what happened:
Six citizens addressed the court. All of them talked about the recent controversial departure of county Elections Administrator Bruce Sherbet. Sherbet, who was the Elections Administrator for 24 years, said he felt Price and Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins forced him out.
The last public speaker at Tuesday’s meeting, Jeff Turner, began by stating that he would refer to “a certain member of the court” — Price — as “the Chief Mulllah of Dallas County.”
Court rules state that public speakers may not address individual commissioners by name.
As Turner spoke, he continued to call Price “Chief Mulllah.” Price interrupted Turner several times, yelling at him, “don’t call me Chief Mulllah” and “call me by my name.”
The New Oxford American Dictionary defines “mullah” as “a Muslim learned in Islamic theology and sacred law.”
Turner continued speaking, ignoring Price’s ongoing interruptions.
At that point, Jenkins adjourned the meeting.
As Price stood to leave, he looked at Turner and the five other citizens who addressed the court. Price said to them, “All of you are white. Go to hell!”
Price repeated “go to hell” three more times. An unknown member of the audience said, “You should be ashamed!”
“I’m not ashamed!” Price answered. “I’m not ashamed! Go to hell!”
In response to the controversy, Wiley issued a statement justifying his actions on the basis that he was called a racial slur. But he also made the curious accusation that one of those calling him out was from the "Tea Party" which is "known for their racial insensitivity" [Warning: The statement has not been changed and includes some racial slurs]:
In the absence of a fair and balanced media outlet in Dallas, I wanted to submit a statement that offers my perspective of an “encounter” that took place at Dallas County today. Unfortunately, my comments were broadcasted without the benefit and the full context which they were made.
I have been patient and accommodating in every regard as it pertains to the recent resignation of a Dallas County employee. There are laws and business practices in place that govern the discussion of personnel matters and I will honor and respect them. I even went as far as to grant a candid one-on-one interview with the Dallas Morning News and have done countless interviews with others.
However, in open court today, after every considerate attempt to discuss the matter further, one of the speakers shot off a racial slur. “Chief Moolah” has its roots in a slang that was used against Italian immigrants and was later used by the same to defame or discredit African Americans. The speaker continued to use terms like “tribal” and his intent to make race an issue was obvious. “Nigger” is “Nigger,” spoken overtly or incognito.
My history and record will reflect that I am one whose tolerance is limited or non-existent when it comes to racial slurs. The comments were bad enough, but to have them hurled by a member of the Tea Party, known for their racial insensitivity, was more than I plan to absorb.
This is in no way an attempt to apologize to those with who felt the need to infuse race into an otherwise orderly meeting. But all of my friends, black, white and brown alike, are well aware that I am always willing to debate, but never at the expense of my race and my heritage.
Late yesterday evening, Price made sure it was clear he was not apologizing for his comments:
According to CBSDFW.com, there was some confusion about what exactly Turner was calling Price. But Turner clarified his remarks to the news station, prompting it to include the following note at the end of its story:
Also, we originally reported that Turner had called Price “chief moolah,” not “Mullah.” Based on Price’s statement, above, it appears that’s also what Price heard. We talked to Jeff Turner later in the day and he said he intended to call Price “Chief Mullah,” but acknowledged that he might have mispronounced it as “moolah.”
This isn't the first time Price has lost it during a commissioner's meeting. Last year he had an almost violent outburst while the meeting's chair was trying to restore order: