Arlington mayor comments on Facebook controversy - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Arlington mayor says Facebook comments "blown way out of proportion"

Arlington Mayor Russell Wiseman Arlington Mayor Russell Wiseman

ARLINGTON, TN (WMC-TV) - The mayor of Arlington released a statement Monday after receiving national attention last week for accusing President Barack Obama of deliberately timing his speech about the war in Afghanistan block the airing of the "Peanuts" Christmas television special.

A story in Thursday's Commercial Appeal said Arlington Mayor Russell Wiseman posted the statements on his Facebook page, saying the president was Muslim. Obama is a Christian. Wiseman also attacked the president's supporters, saying they should move to a Muslim country.

In a statement Monday, Wiseman downplayed the Facebook conversation, but said he was sorry if he offended anyone.

"I regret that I offended anyone with my poor attempt at tongue-in-cheek humor amongst friends," Wiseman wrote. "While my comments were certainly blown way out of proportion, I do recognize that I allowed things to go too far."

Wiseman also expressed shock at the reaction he received from people who read about his comments.

"One troubling and eye-opening aspect of this whole episode has been the literally hundreds and hundreds of fanatics who have directed some of the most vile and profane comments towards me and my family that I've ever heard, including making physical threats and even posting my home phone number and address online for the benefit of the fringe element," he wrote.

The town of Arlington put up its own statement on its website, saying the Mayor's Facebook comments do not reflect an official position of the town.

Wiseman did not show up at Monday night's meeting of Arlington's Board of Aldermen.  The Board did not want to comment officially about the mayor's absence. 

You can read Wiseman's complete statement below:

Regarding all of the reports about my recent Facebook remarks, I want to take this opportunity to say how much I regret that I offended anyone with my poor attempt at tongue-in-cheek humor amongst friends.  While my comments were certainly blown way out of proportion, I do recognize that I allowed things to go too far.

As you might have guessed, I don't really care for President Obama or his policies.  That being said, I understand how my comments might have been interpreted by people who don't know me and who have no reason to give me the benefit of the doubt.  When defenders of President Obama started chiming in on the Facebook comment thread, I'm afraid I let my frustrations and my sarcastic and joking nature get the best of me, and so I egged and goaded them on within the confines of what I considered at the time to be a semi-private conversation among friends.

I trust that we have probably all experienced things getting out of hand from time to time, and I do regret it.  I also take some measure of comfort in knowing that the people who know me best, and who know my background, my work in the community, and my heart -- they understand that I am a progressive and tolerant person who believes wholeheartedly in the rights and equality of all people.  I think my record and the way I live my life certainly reflects those views, and I hate that I may have caused anyone to question my commitment to it.  I also regret any embarrassment that might have been unfairly visited on my friends, my family, my church, and the citizens and officials of the Town of Arlington.

One troubling and eye-opening aspect of this whole episode has been the literally hundreds and hundreds of fanatics who have directed some of the most vile and profane comments towards me and my family that I've ever heard, including making physical threats and even posting my home phone number and address online for the benefit of the fringe element.

In the interest of moving forward, I will not be giving interviews or fielding questions because I have no interest in taking any step that might perpetuate this whole episode or inadvertently be interpreted as an attempt to dignify my unfortunate comments.  I have learned a valuable lesson, and I look forward to moving on and focusing on the business of the Town of Arlington in a manner befitting the good citizens I represent.


The town of Arlington released this statement about Wiseman's comments:

The views of Russell Wiseman, Mayor of the Town of Arlington, expressed on his Facebook account do not reflect an official position of the Town of Arlington. His comments were not made on a Town computer, or using Town computer services. The Town recognizes Barack Obama as the President of the United States, and in accordance with the Constitution, recognizes both the freedom of religion and the freedom of speech. We welcome all law abiding people to our town. We do not discriminate and we provide essential services to all Town of Arlington people without regard to their religion, race, color, age, gender, sex or national origin.

 

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