A Southbridge, Mass., school official was called incredibly hurtful things on a local blog this week, but she and others upset at the harsh words are not taking the situation lightly.
Southbridge School Committee Chairwoman Lauren McLoughlin, who was described as "a morbidly obese blueberry" and "of sufficient mass to have her own gravitational field" on the blog, is using this as an opportunity to encourage victims of bullying to stand up for themselves.
“I want my kids to know that bullies come in all shapes and sizes, that adults can be bullies too and that you can stand up for yourself,” McLoughlin told WBZ-TV.
Lauren McLoughlin struck back against hurtful words on Ken O'Brien's blog, labeling him a bully. (Image source: WBZ-TV)
McLoughlin also pointed out that the comments have hurt her family as well.
“I think those comments hurt the people that care about you even more than they hurt you," she said.
WBZ reported that blog is moderated by former town councilor and former state representative Ken O’Brien. In later posts, O'Brien went on to further attack McLoughlin's weight (one such post has since been removed from the blog).
Footage from a previous town council meeting shows Ken O'Brien speaking. After outrage to comments on his blog about the school committee member, O'Brien apologized. (Image source: WBZ-TV)
McLoughlin told WBZ that she reached out to O-Brien, who considers her weight a poor example for children, to discuss the matter as adults, but she said he didn't wish to do so. McLouglin acknowledged that she is overweight, but asked how how this could relate to the school district being "chronically under-performing for a generation?"
Watch WBZ-TV's report:
On his blog Friday, O'Brien wrote that he realizes he "made a serious" mistake and apologized.
"The article I wrote titled 'Weighty Matters' was ill-conceived, offensive and insensitive. I apologize for it without qualification and that, as far as I am concerned, is that," O'Brien wrote on the blog with an accompanying photo of a mug that reads "town's biggest A-hole."
Though, O'Brien goes on to write that a local political cartoon of a "portly" individual used to portray him with a button popping off and other weight-related jokes haven't seemed to elicit the same "firestorm of outrage" this incident has. He wrote that he doesn't think McLoughlin did women wanting to break through stereotypes any favors with her choked up comments earlier this week regarding bullying.
"To summarize, I feel that the display by the Chairman of the School Committee did severe damage to women. It served to reinforce the biases that they have been fighting to overcome for almost fifty years," O'Brien wrote. "Whether you want to believe it or not, it resulted in genuine anger that caused me to write things that I regret. What I said cannot be justified – but it can be explained."