The power of words

By Baker City Herald Editorial Board February 24, 2012 09:33 am

La Grande Mayor Daniel Pokorney isn't the first official to type himself into a public maelstrom via Facebook.

And we're not risking our reputation for prescience by proclaiming that he won't be the last.

As a legislative matter, the Facebook posts in which Pokorney criticizes states that allow same-sex marriage are irrelevant.

Pokorney isn't suggesting La Grande's City Council ban gay marriage.

Besides which, counties, not cities, issue marriage licenses. 

As a lesson in the power of words, however, Pokorney's case is quite educational.

Pokorney's stance on the legality of gay marriage is mainstream. In 28 states where the issue was put before voters, in each case a majority decided to define marriage as between a man and a woman.

But Pokorney didn't just write that gay marriage should be illegal. He referred to the practice as an "abomination" and likened it to Sodom and Gomorrah.

Pokorney attended a public forum Monday at EOU and apologized for his "choice of words." This was appropriate. If, as Pokorney said, he doesn't hate anyone, then he shouldn't have used the word "abomination" to describe homosexual relationships.

Some people have urged Pokorney to resign. We don't think that's necessary.

La Grande voters elected Pokorney to set policies for their city. His Facebook posts, though offensive in his choice of words, in no way betray that trust. The words are Pokorney's alone, not La Grande's.

Pokorney should, though, show better judgment in representing his constituents by making sure potentially public statements are appropriate before he clicks that can't-take-it-back "post" box.