Says Sherman on his website:
Yesterday, State Representative Monique Davis (D-Chicago) called me from the Floor of the Illinois House of Representatives to apologize for what she had said to me at last Wednesday’s hearing of the House State Government Administration Committee. Rep. Davis had said, among other things, that atheism is dangerous to the progression of the State of Illinois, that children should not be allowed to know that my philosophy (atheism) exists, and that I had no right to testify to any Illinois legislative committee because the People of Illinois believe in God. She concluded by ordering me to “Get out of that seat!”
Some bloggers have asked what I said to instigate Rep. Davis’ comments. I was testifying about why the Governor’s proposal to donate one million tax dollars to Pilgrim Baptist Church is unconstitutional. Specifically, I was reading, in a very calm manner, from my laptop computer, the words in the March 4th “Latest Update,” which appear below and which explains why the proposal to give money to the church is unconstitutional.
Rep. Davis said that she had been upset, earlier in the day, to learn that a twenty-second and twenty-third Chicago Public School student this school year had been shot to death that morning. She said that it was wrong for her to take out her anger, frustrations and emotions on me, and that she apologized to me.
I told her that her explanation was reasonable and that I forgave her. I also suggested that if she really was concerned about public school students dying needlessly, she should look into helping me to get passed legislation to get lap and shoulder seat belts on school busses that is pending in the House and in the Senate.
She thanked me for forgiving her and said that she would look into those two pieces of legislation.
Rep. Davis’ apology was a direct result of the pressure put on her by the thousands of bloggers from around the globe who commented on the various news sites and the hundreds of people from around the world who contacted her office by telephone or e-mail. Each and every one of you really did make a difference. Your comments didn’t just go out into thin air and get forgotten about and ignored. By each one of you taking the time to carefully craft your intelligent message, pressure built up on Rep. Davis. Meanwhile, more pressure built as additional news outlets picked up the story, including the Countdown show with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC, which gave Rep. Davis the Worst Person in the World award; the Capitol Fax in Springfield, Illinois; and a half-hour appearance on WTDY radio in Madison, Wisconsin. Blogs and direct contact with the offending party really do make a difference. They may not get read everywhere, but they are read by people who matter, so I thank each one of you for your efforts.
The reasoning as to why she made her remarks seems very shaky to me (what do shootings have to do with atheism being a “dangerous philosophy” unless she wants to equate the two… which would be an even bigger mistake)… But it took a lot for her to apologize, and it was the right thing to do. Kudos to Rep. Davis for making the call to Sherman, even if it was about a week overdue.
Let’s hope she never makes those kinds of attack statements again.
I’m guessing she’s learned her lesson.
And Rob is right — this story received plenty of (well-deserved) attention because it was spread from blog to blog and from blogosphere to mainstream media.
Remember that the next time you witness a similar incident. If you raise your voice (or your typing fingers), people will hear about your story.