One lawmaker calls it accountability. Another calls it bullying.
Sen. Martín Quezada, D-Glendale, is taking some online flack from Rep. Kelly Townsend, R-Mesa, for a comment he made this week during a conversation at a Capitol event for Arizona’s teacher’s union.
Quezada is seen on video telling the teachers, many of whom wore a shade of crimson now connected to the #RedForEd movement, to pressure his colleagues on social media to influence votes in the Legislature.
“You would think that we’re all politicians; we have thick skin. We don’t,” he told them in the video, to laughter. “They hate getting beat up. That’s often a part of the negotiation. They’ll say, ‘I’ll go with you but you have to call your people off, stop hammering me on Twitter’… This is mental warfare and you do, you gotta wear them down mentally.”
Townsend characterized the comments as “bullying.”
“We’ve been trying to stop bullying and cyberbullying,” she said. “Instead, asking teachers to do it publicly to representatives in order to get their way … that’s extremely unfortunate.”
Constituents holding lawmakers accountable?
Quezada told The Arizona Republic that his words were a “call to all activists” to engage with their elected officials. He emphasized that he was not advocating for harassment of any kind.
“I said that this is the only way to hold us accountable,” he said. “Political pressure is much different than harassment… Having multiple phone calls and multiple emails and multiple social media interactions, that’s a part of the game.”
He said that he gets pressure from both sides of the aisle. And when constituents put the squeeze on lawmakers, it often works during key votes.
“That pressure really does end up working and it helps that member make a decision about which direction they’re going to go when they vote,” he said.
In the case of #RedForEd, some of the pressure put on lawmakers over funding worked last year, Quezada said, even though it made some Republican legislators “uncomfortable.”
‘You’re an idiot’
Townsend said she’s often subject to vitriol over social media.
She sent The Republic screenshots of comments received on social media calling her an “idiot,” a “fruitcake,” and an “embarrassment.” Those are among the more PG insults — some of the messages include grittier obscenities.
Many appear to be in response to her comments on vaccines, where she compared mandatory vaccinations to government-imposed tattoos.
“Hope your kids get sick and don’t recover,” one Facebook user wrote to Townsend.
She said she has a “busted-up mailbox,” the product of internet harassment turned into real-life harassment.
“When someone of authority incites mental warfare or otherwise, those out in the community who may or may not be stable will take that to heart and do it, and maybe take it to another level,” she said.
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Read or Share this story: https://www.azcentral.com/story/news/local/arizona-education/2019/03/14/rep-kelly-townsend-says-shes-target-redfored-mental-warfare-martin-quezada-cyberbullying/3162953002/