Opinion: Dumler bashing's out of control
By Marlene Condon
I don't know Chris Dumler. But I do know that the community's response to his sexual battery conviction could have come right out of Nathaniel Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter. However, you needn’t go back that far in time to see the seemingly inherent cruelness of people.
Supervisor Dennis Rooker's comment that Chris should move and start his life over makes me think of the 1960s when I was growing up. Girls pregnant out of wedlock were sent away so they and their families wouldn’t have to bear “the shame” forced upon them by the community.
Probably most folks feel that such judgmentalism is necessary to control people's behavior and to keep everyone in line with society’s values. Thus I recognize that Mr. Rooker is only being realistic, but his suggestion is a sad commentary on society.
The vehicle for ensuring societal judgmentalism is gossip—the offering of personal opinion not based upon factual knowledge of the situation being talked about, often with the additional insinuation of worse acts than the one actually being judged.
For example, on February 28, WINA conservative talk show host Rob Schilling said that he would prefer to have seen “a police escort” with a female TV reporter as she interviewed Mr. Dumler. Mr. Schilling has no basis in fact for making such a negative moral assessment of Chris Dumler as the supervisor has not been found guilty of attacking strangers.
When Mr. Schilling infers that he himself would supposedly have sent police protection with the female reporter for that interview, he’s attempting to raise his own moral stature in relation to a supposedly negligent TV station.
As Professor of Philosophy Caroline J. Simon writes in the journal, Faith and Philosophy, by “making [a] negative moral assessment of others [i.e., the TV station]…one believes one’s own moral worth is enhanced...”
Mr. Schilling also suggests that Mr. Dumler is a child predator. He asked school board members if they had “any concerns regarding Mr. Dumler being on Albemarle County school property while children are present?”
Mr. Schilling deliberately planted negative and unwarranted thoughts about Mr. Dumler into those people’s minds. Taking satisfaction from the devious smearing of another person is evil. And this from Mr. Schilling who wears his religion on his sleeve!
One might not be surprised that a talk show host seeking publicity would make such comments. However, I would have hoped people serving on the school board would have the ability to apply critical thinking before answering the question.
But no, according to Mr. Schilling’s blog, “[Jason] Buyaki suggests changing school board policy on sex offenders so that: ‘any individual who has been convicted of sex crime should be escorted at all times as a precaution and preventative method.’ [Eric] Strucko says he’s ‘open’ to considering such a revision.”
And “Ned Galloway is nauseated by the experience and has requested that Chris Dumler not visit Albemarle County Schools.”
Hello? Mr. Dumler was involved with an adult female— not a child. Why should anyone be concerned about him being around children? This kind of innuendo serves no purpose other than to demonstrate a real meanness of spirit that reveals hatefulness in people.
In Mr. Dumler’s case, all anyone knows is that he pleaded guilty to a charge that legal expert David Heilberg explained in the Hook produced “a certain [emphasis mine] outcome. It doesn't ruin the rest of his life, he doesn't lose his law license. He won't be a registered sexual offender.”
Many people, such as callers to WINA talk shows hosted by Coy Barefoot and Rob Schilling, have made comments illustrating their ignorance of our legal system, which is flawed and does not guarantee justice to anyone. People– including host Barefoot– claim if they were innocent of this crime, they would spend all of their money to clear their name. But it's not that simple.
How likely do you think it that a jury of Mr. Dumler's so-called peers would deny their emotions and instead use their brains to be fair to this man? Truth be told, people are so full of condemnation about this case because they think the alleged sex act is aberrant among heterosexual couples.
But any psychologist or psychiatrist familiar with the literature could testify that this behavior among heterosexuals is more common than society acknowledges (though more commonly performed by couples who have been together a long time).
If you really think that you would place your future into the hands of the people of this community in spite of the judgmental behavior they’ve demonstrated when they’ve had no access to all of the facts of this case, you're a braver (wo)man than I, or perhaps just more foolish.
It should be up to Chris Dumler’s constituents who voted him into office as to whether or not he should vacate his seat on the board of supervisors, and it’s not clear that the majority of them are indeed eager for him to leave. If they were, they would have flocked to sign the petition started by Earl Smith at the beginning of February to ask a judge to remove Mr. Dumler.
But Mr. Smith was still trying to collect voter signatures on March 1, 2013, when he phoned The Schilling Show. The squeaky wheel in this case does not deserve to get the grease.
Marlene A. Condon is an author and photographer who lives in Albemarle County.