Former Lee County Commissioner Kirk Smith, who is on November’s ballot again after losing his re-election bid in 2016, wrote in a Facebook thread Wednesday morning that local students who participated in a nationwide walkout in protest of recent school shootings were “tools” of various “ANTI-FREEDOM” groups or individuals ranging from former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg to the Black Lives Matter movement:
Smith’s caps lock-ridden comment was posted in a thread on the North Carolina Truthseekers Facebook group, a right wing meme page moderated by a handful of local Republicans.
Smith – and his penchant for bizarre name calling – has been a familiar figure to many Lee Countians for the better part of two decades. Well known even before the social media age for his reams of conspiratorial letters to the Sanford Herald (subscription required) disparaging homosexuals, something called “eco-Marxists,” the United Nations, and more, he served an incomplete, appointed term on the Lee County Board of Commissioners in the late 2000s and was later elected to a full term in 2012.
That term proved controversial on several fronts, including his suggestion that low income students be fed peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as a cost-saving measure, a letter calling an anti-fracking activist a communist (subscription required), and a dustup in which he made false allegations in a letter to the editor and blamed county staff for his mistake. He went on to finish last out of six candidates in his 2016 campaign, missing re-election by nearly 1,500 votes.
Now that he’s filed for re-election, Smith’s public statements should and will garner more scrutiny. We only gave it a hint of attention when he blamed parking problems at Lee County High School on “mostly poor minority students,” as he was at the time a private citizen, but while his wading into the current debate over school safety and mass shootings isn’t exactly a surprise, it’s worth noting because regardless of your position on gun control or any other issue, Smith’s statement belies a gross misunderstanding of the First Amendment he cites.
Indeed, one need not be able to name the five freedoms (speech, most notably) included therein to voice an opinion – any opinion, which Smith explicitly stated the students “should not be able to” do. There is no litmus test for exercising constitutional rights. The same goes for Kirk, of course. This isn’t a suggestion that students have rights and he doesn’t – it’s an examination of what he chooses to do with them. He could explain what he believes and why he believes it. Instead, he calls kids names and invents conspiracies.
His behavior provides a stark contrast with that of the students in question, one of whom told the Rant earlier today that he hoped his participation in the walkout would raise awareness of an issue over which he is rightfully scared. Kirk Smith proved a long time ago that he’s not fit to hold any public office anywhere. Let his latest words serve as an ample reminder.
Thank you for writing this. Not everyone follows their local candidates on social media and it can be hard to keep up with everything they say/write. When a candidate says things like this, it should be made known and they deserve the scrutiny they get. Thanks again for bringing his terrible perspective and ideas to people’s attention.
Some more Rants from a “tool:”
More of my terrible perspective, a Letter to the Editor highlighting the limit effort of the Sanford Herald to report NEWS.
Who knew of the disdain that Lee County’s progressives would have toward our wheat, peanut, strawberry, and grape farmers? This is no surprise as the recent Convergent Nonprofit Solutions survey of our elite community leaders reveal the low regard held toward our agri-businesses, a segment of our economy that generates over $235 million each year for Lee County and employs over 4,000 people.
Why are the public schools in the feeding children business? Both my wife and I grew up bagging a peanut butter and jelly sandwich as it was the responsibility of our parents to feed us, not the tax payers. The poorly managed free and reduced school lunch program is rife with waste, fraud, and abuse. Not to mention the meat products rejected by the fast food chains ends up being purchased by the USDA and distributed to the school lunch program. How healthy and wholesome is that?
What the Sanford Herald reporter missed was the admission by Board of Education Vice-Chair Mark Akinosho. Who stated in so many words, that Lee County graduates students who are not proficient in math, reading, and English! That should have been the headline, but somehow a comment about peanut butter and jelly sandwiches raised such a tizzy amongst our progressive neighbors.
Last year, the Central Carolina Works initiative was brought before a joint meeting of the Chairs, Vice-chairs, of Chatham, Harnett, and Lee counties. After the presentation by Kirk Bradley and Dr. Bud Marchant, we surveyed the list of coursework offered and suggested targeting certain skill sets that would contribute to the future economic viability of our counties. Those skill sets were: Industrial Systems Technology, Computer-Integrated Machining, Criminal Justice Technology, Automotive Systems Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, and Life and Health Sciences. In addition we did not want students attending who lacked the fundamental skills in math, reading and writing as this continues to be a major drag on the development of our workforce.
Clearly what was reported was only part of the story. As always I shall support the PBJ farmers of America!
Kirk D. Smith