Within the span of two weeks, we have reported on two “assault” reports investigated by police involving elected officials.
Both incidents have followed marathon meetings that have lasted past midnight. Both have involved officials on different sides of the political aisle – each with their own supporters and detractors. And both have created a furor on social media.
Each has put us in a unique situation as well. We’ll get to that in a minute.
Within hours of a Hendersonville Board of Mayor and Aldermen meeting that ended in the early hours of June 14, one Hendersonville alderman was accused on social media of pushing to the ground a colleague in his eighties. The accusations of bullying, elder abuse and even misogyny were there for anyone to read. No one seemed to care if they might be true or not.
For reasons that have not become totally clear to us since neither of the involved parties filed a report, Hendersonville police investigated the matter. An initial report involving both participants described a “he said, she said” incident. One alderman said he was pushed by the other and vice-versa. The report was closed with police concluding both sides were free to bring civil action since police couldn’t determine who the aggressor was.
A day later police added to their report after talking with a third party who witnessed the incident. According to the witness, it was the elder alderman who initially “shoved” the younger alderman who kept trying to show the elder alderman a packet of information. The case was again closed.
A similar incident seems to have occurred just a few days later between two Sumner County commissioners. In this case video surveillance footage shows one county commissioner pushing another out of the way. The commissioner who was pushed filed a report with Gallatin police two weeks after the incident. It’s not clear if the commissioner will press charges.
In both situations an objective police report (and in one case even video), is available for all to read and make their own judgements.
What is interesting to us, however, is how differently people view these pieces of evidence – and even our objective reporting – depending on which side of the political aisle they are on.
Here in Sumner County – and Hendersonville – it’s not a Democrat/Republican divide – it’s more personal than that.
People form their opinions based on who they like or who they are friends with, rather than the facts of an incident, it seems.
Political “friends” are given passes while adversaries are being drug through the mud on social media.
These two confrontations highlight the rancorous political climate here in Hendersonville and Sumner County – and social media is only making the problem worse.
If you are getting your “facts” from the comments people make Facebook, you are severely misinformed.
We can only hope that our readers are smarter than this. And that they see value in the objective reporting we strive so hard to provide.
The Main Street Media editorial board is comprised of Publisher Dave Gould; News Editor Sherry Mitchell and reporters Tena Lee and Josh Cross.