Tuesday, December 12, 2023

Sarasota School Board Should Not Expel Ziegler

In the wake of the Ziegler "sex scandal," there are plenty of calls for Bridget Ziegler, long-time Florida right-wing operative, to resign from the Sarasota school board, and I am not okay with that,

(Before we get to that, let me just point out that "sex scandal" is a lousy way to refer to an alleged rape case.)

What, exactly, would they expel Ziegler for?

Hypocrisy? Sure, there's a special something about a woman who helped create a law that now makes it illegal to explain to students what the news is talking about. Yes, there is a deep level of wrong that goes with using LGBTQ persons as a punching bag to score political points. The story is illuminating in one sense-- if you've been wondering "How much of this anti-LGBTQ stuff does she believe and how much is just opportunistic political posturing," the news that Bridget Ziegler was a willing part of a three-way with a woman who was apparently "mostly in it for her" would seem to answer that question.

But is being a two-faced opportunist a reason to be forced to resign from a school board? I'm pretty sure that would be bad news for many school boards across the country.

Bridget Ziegler isn't accused of committing any actual crime. So what exactly would be her reason to resign?

Being involved in a bi-sexual three-way sex? I hope not, because if "involvement in sex of which I don't approve" is your standard for evicting someone from a school board seat, then you are ceding ground to al the folks who likewise want to throw LGBTQ persons off school boards. 

Being married to an accused rapist? Being the subject of excessive press coverage? Not crimes. And charges easily leveled against lots of other folks.

If, as I suspect, the rationale is something along the lines of "She has been a huge pain in the ass, she's a bad person, and any opportunity to bat her away from power is worth taking," I don't support that, either. I understand it, but I don't support it. It is the same brand of opportunism that everyone hates when it's the Other Side using it. It is about tribal battle and not principle. 

And furthering an atmosphere in which anyone's private life is fair game for public disempowerment is nothing but trouble in the long term.

If it makes you feel better, there is no win for Ziegler here. She lost her cushy political consulting job, and if she stays on the board, she has to do it while every other board member is armed with a small tactical nuke held in reserve for any moment in which she opens her mouth about sex or conservative values or LGBTQ persons. And if she decides to run again at the end of this term--well, what a campaign that will be. 

Let the electorate decide. Or let her slink off on her own. But don't throw your weight behind the idea that someone should be thrown off a school board because of who they choose to have sex with.

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