MEMPHIS, Tenn. — It takes a sincere and thoughtful person to publicly admit when they are wrong and apologize appropriately. Memphis City Councilman Edmund Ford Sr. is not that person.
Ford last week went on one of his familiar public tirades – when he verbally attacked an assistant to County Mayor Lee Harris for using transgender pronouns in a letter she submitted to the council. After the Daily Memphian reported Ford’s unnecessary outbursts, someone at city hall obviously got to the councilman and convinced him to try to make amends.
But the written statement he released Friday evening failed miserably. Ford said he meant no offense to Harris’ assistant – and admitted he was unfamiliar with the use of gender pronouns. If that’s the case, Ford should have just kept quiet, because he ended up being highly offensive. Plus, he never once apologized for his abusive language, which included calling the use of the pronouns irrelevant gender mess. And he said nothing about his harsh attacks against another person who came to the aide’s defense at the meeting. Ford simply described himself as a passionate advocate for his district who can occasionally become too forceful.
Here’s what I say. Ford’s explanation is a joke. The only reason he released a statement at all was because of heavy criticism he was getting. His longstanding abusive behavior is shameful, and he does not deserve to even be on the council.
Edmund Ford Sr.'s statement:
“As the representative of District 6, I am well-known as a passionate advocate for my community. Admittedly, my passion, especially in my support or defense of my position, can sometimes be a bit too forceful. It has been suggested to me that my position on matters might be better received if my remarks were more tempered. I will keep this in mind in the future. It is with this understanding that in addressing the staffers, I could have been less harsh in my delivery and tone. Unfortunately, the Shelby County staffer presenting on the Unified Development Code ordinance received the brunt of my frustrations. In seeking clarification on who exactly authored the letter that was presented to the Council by the County, I asked the representative who was “she/they” in the signature line. The term “they” suggested to me that there was perhaps an additional author of the letter. Once the Shelby County representative clarified that she was both “she” and “they,” I supported her answer and right to specify her gender and pronouns without further inquiry. My time on the Council has meant that I have gained knowledge and understanding on a variety of unfamiliar topics. The use of gender pronouns in the letter was unfamiliar to me so I had a lack of knowledge of this practice when I made the query. My asking about the use of “she/they” had nothing to do with gender identity, because I had no familiarity with this as a means of self-identification. I now know about this practice and hope people understand that no disrespect toward the Shelby County representative’s gender identity was meant by my question.”