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Hate or Satire? Georgetown Rabbi Responds to Tweets

A recent Twitter feed has ignited a local debate.

Last week, members of the neighboring community of Wilton were outraged as a couple of —purpotedly the work of an anonymous Wilton High School student—became the talk of the town.

Responding to the tweets, the Wilton Police Deparment began investigating them, Wilton's Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Gary Richards, issued a formal statement decrying the offending tweets and many citizens of Wilton gave heartwarming support to a local temple, Temple B'nai Chaim, which is located in Georgetown.

Captain John Lynch of the said that police are “actively investigating” the incident in order to “determine if an actual crime has been committed.”

The tweets which landed the WiltonLife Twitter account on the radar had said: “F**k Darien. Since they don’t allow Jews to live in their town, they dump them on our land!” and “#IWillNeverUnderstandWhy people think we’re racist? We love black people…Everyone should own one. #wiltonlife”.

Richards released a statement at last Thursday’s Wilton Board of Education meeting which at one part states: “We firmly believe that at the end of the day, the voices of tolerance and respect will be louder than the voices of intolerance and cruelty.”

For Leah Cohen, a Rabbi at  in Georgetown, that previous statement is exactly what happened.

“I had so many friends, clergy, officials, non-officials, Jews, non-Jews, people from Wilton, people formerly from Wilton—contacting me and expressing their concern,” said Cohen.

The outpouring of support, which Cohen said came as word gradually made its way around town last week, proved to her that Wilton was a wonderful place to live and she questioned whether or not another town would react the same way. She wasn’t too worried about the tweets when she learned of them, either.

“People do say hateful things, it happens. But that’s not what defines us [as a community]. What defines us is the incredible response” which followed, said Cohen. I’m grateful to be a part of this community; this is where I work, where I raise my family, and I’m grateful. To the spiritual context and the community context it’s Wilton at its best. The genuine concern for me and the congregants, the temple, the Jewish people…it’s really amazing.”  

“I don’t know if other communities would respond like this,” said Cohen.

Satire or Spite?

In the of Heather Boren Herve’s column published yesterday, some believed that Twitter account is simply satire which mocks a perceived, over-privileged and spoiled stereotype of Wilton High Schoolers as well as a perceived racist or anti-Semitic view that the account holder perhaps believes infects some of the Wilton populace and its police force.

WiltonLife’s first recorded tweet is from Dec. 20 of 2011 and reads: “Woah! A Wilton cop pulling over a person of color. #SHOCKER#youliveinwilton

“If people say that you’re a stuck up stubborn arrogant a**hole and you completely agree #Youliveinwilton” reads a tweet dating back to Dec. 22, 2011.

“If you think Bridgeport is an African refugee camp #youliveinwilton”, reads another from April of this year.

While the above may sound snarky or offensive to some, many of the 183 (as of this writing) tweets are not inflammatory—tweets about people going to Orem’s after school, or how the whole high school is watching Project X and tame posts about the Dave Matthews Band (referenced as DMB in the tweets) also exist.

And then there’s this: “#TruthIs We complain about how much Wilton sucks, but we forget how truly fortunate we all are to live here. #wiltonlife”, which was also posted last April.

Regarding the issue of cyber bullying, Richards wrote in his statement:

“…it is frightening to see evidence of cyber-bullying because we know what tragic impacts it can have. It is distressing to witness the level of ridicule and intolerance and it is unfathomable that some individuals choose to use hateful and demeaning language. In no way do the behaviors of a few misguided individuals represent our school and our community”,

The outrage appears to be more over the provocative remarks made concerning African Americans and Jewish people. It remains unclear if cyber-bullying actually occurred, but even if the tweets were intended as sarcasm, the town is taking the issue seriously.  

The Mirror June 19, 2012 at 02:12 PM
What... a high school student posting something stupid? I'm shocked...shocked, I tell you!
Leon Karvelis June 19, 2012 at 05:00 PM
What is truly sad and frightening about such despicable messages is that the person sending it is probably not alone in their distorted and malicious views. There is no room for such evil in our community and I hope the police can find the source of it and tear it out by the roots. Our young people must understand the difference between freedom of speech and rank bigotry.

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