There are times to stand your ground.
There are times to refuse to give in.
There are times to hold to your principles.
For Chelsea Lyons Kent, this is not one of those times.
This is a time to apologize, seek forgiveness and admit to doing something stupid.
Kent is the Hawaii delegate kicked out the Democratic National Convention after making an obscene gesture during roll call. There she is, right behind Sens. Brian Schatz and Mazie Hirono, grinning like a fool and flipping the bird to the camera on national television. We all would like to know, what was she thinking? Clearly, she wasn’t.
In an interview with The Garden Island, Kent calls her gesture during the DNC roll call a “spur of the moment” decision, trying to find a way to protest the Hillary Clinton votes.
“I did not expect at that moment to be on camera or to be in that position at that time,” Kent said. “I thought at that time that I wished I had a sign to hold up, but I didn’t. So I just reviewed what my options were, and it seemed like the only one.”
Really? Your only option was an obscene gesture? That’s all you could come up with? That was your best?
No, it wasn’t. You could have been humble and gracious in defeat, understand you were representing The Aloha State and make ready to battle another day in the political arena.
You made a bad decision.
Kent said the DNC asked her to apologize to Hirono and Schatz, but she declined. Makes no sense. Another bad decision.
By now, most of us have heard the sob story from this Bernie Sanders supporter: how her candidate was wronged, how people were mean to her, how they called her names, even. Her only alternative, her only response, apparently, was an obscene gesture. Geez. That not only makes Kent look bad; it makes Hawaii look bad. It raises the question of the quality of people sent to the convention. It gives ammunition to those who believe a problem with Hawaii today are the people who move here from the Mainland and don’t know how to show respect for the customs and culture of their new home. Certainly, when someone is upset, for whatever reason, the reaction can’t be an obscene gesture. We must be better than that.
By now, we’re hoping that Kent has had time to think about what she did, realize how childish it was, and offer an apology. To continue to insist no such apology is necessary is wrong and Kent is just digging that hole for herself a little deeper. There is no acceptable excuse for her actions. This state already has enough people who don’t know how to live aloha, who don’t have a clue about respect and basic courtesy, who are ridiculously rude and sadly, don’t know any better. Hawaii doesn’t need anyone on national TV proving it has one more.
We should add that since this incident happened and went national, not everyone has turned against Kent. Her GoFundMe account has received about $250 in the past five days and at $3,764, is almost to its $4,500 goal. Guess that shouldn’t be a surprise. Outrageous sometimes pays.
Chelsea, we give you credit for believing in yourself and what you did, however misguided. We give you full marks for your courage. People have a right to express themselves. But you did so at the wrong time, the wrong place.
We would like to give you credit for knowing you made a blunder, saying you’re sorry and beginning some damage control. If not for yourself, for the state, perhaps even for Sanders’ supporters — though many probably feel as you do and are privately applauding and offering high fives. A lot of people apologize, even when it hurts, even when they don’t want to. This, for you, is one of those times. If you won’t listen to us, perhaps you’ll heed our governor:
“It truly was unfortunate that the gesture is not representative of all the work that has been done by the Hawaii delegation here at this convention,” said Gov. David Ige.
The governor is not the one who needs to issue contrite statements. Chelsea, Hawaii needs to hear from you. Don’t keep it waiting.