Anna Vrska's Apology
Thursday evening I received correspondence from Anna Vrska regarding the firestorm of controversy that resulted from her use of the word "Nazi", directed at the Sergeant-at-arms during Public Comments at the Planning Commission meeting on Monday, February 22nd.
NO ROOM IN THE DAILY PILOT
She had been interviewed by Bradley Zint for his Daily Pilot article on the issue, HERE, but could not be guaranteed that her complete apology would appear due to possible space constraints, so she reached out to me. In my opinion, the Daily Pilot article would be the appropriate place for this apology, but...
HER WORDS EXPLAIN IT
Even though she and I have spoken about the event and I have a clear understanding of what preciptated her use of the word, I believe her own words in the apology are sufficient, so I will not attempt to paraphrase, editorialize nor in any way modify her words as she presented them to me for publication.
A SEPARATE COMMENT
She was clear to me, though, that she did not feel she was representing the Costa Mesa First organization when she made that specific comment. As I said in my blog post about this event, HERE, it was clear to me that she had completed her Smart Growth Initiative presentation when she paused and made the comment that included that very offensive word.
And, it was also clear when we spoke that she knows Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer's plan for her expulsion from the Fairview Park Citizen's Advisory Committee is on the City Council meeting agenda for March 1st - next Tuesday. I wrote about that HERE.
So, without further comment, the following is Anna Vrska's apology, which I accept, by the way:
"I apologize for my poor choice of words at Monday night’s Planning Commission meeting. Over the past months, I have grown increasingly concerned over the continuing erosion of First Amendment rights for Costa Mesa residents. I did not intend to speak on this issue Monday night. However, an incident involving the Sergeant at Arms, and a resident, occurred right before I spoke. What I perceived to be discriminatory and intimidating behavior sparked my comment. That said, my heat of the moment reaction was disproportionate to the incident itself.
As a descendant of a Holocaust survivor, and as someone whose great-grandparents perished in a concentration camp, I do not take the work “Nazi” lightly. In the context I used it Monday night, “Nazi” meant: exemplifying a person with extreme authoritarian views—and that infringement of rights, no matter how minor, in aggregate, can lead to very scary places.
Though my word choice was, indeed, unfortunate, I fervently support First Amendment principles. I also support residents’ rights to express themselves and, their concerns, without fear of persecution from officials, which their comments may be directed towards.
Finally, in moving forward, any disciplinary action, or retribution for speaking out, not only functions to erode speakers’ first amendment rights, it creates a chilling effect, wherein residents may not speak out, in the future, due to fear of retribution."
I AGREE WITH HER ASSESSMENT
And, finally, I must say that I agree with her final paragraph. History has shown us over the past five years that the men in charge of this city work very hard at stifling dissenting viewpoints, regardless of the forum. Her assessment is very likely accurate. Simply the fact that Righeimer had this issue placed on the agenda will likely send shivers down the spines of folks who might wish to step to a speaker's podium and present a critical comment or an observation that is divergent with their world view. And, whether you like the word or not, it is part of her free speech protections in this country that she may say it if she wishes.