By Scott Tibbs, March 1, 2012
Last week, Monroe County Economic Development Commission member Greg Travis posted a shockingly racist comment in the Herald-Times comment section. Travis' wife, Sophia Travis, is running for an at-large seat on the Monroe County Council. In 2005, she voted to appoint her husband to the EDC, a public endorsement of his views.
When HTO commenter bilgerat described the attitude of those behind the comprehensive plan "thinking that they are the only ones who know what is best for how we utilize our property and pursue our dreams," Travis wrote:
Right out of South Carolina's Declaration of Immediate Causes:
Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States.
So there you have it. A prominent Monroe County Democrat who holds a position of authority in county government is actually equating ownership of land with the practice of slavery.
Travis dug in his heels after being called out for his racist statement:
I wonder if Scott considers the government's taking of southern whites' property without due compensation a violation of their fifth amendment rights.
The next day, he continued to equate owning land with "owning" human beings:
I'm heartened that HTO's right wing brain trust joins with Tibbs in rejecting an absolute interpretation of the Fifth amendment and recognizes that property title and control is not absolute but subject to social norms, testrictions, and ultimate collective title (eminent domain)
He then continued to equate ownership of land with "ownership" of people:
Now bilgerat has taken us right back to the notion of absolute property rights, the same constitutional argument put for in defense of owning humans by the South
Bilgerat, should southern slave holders have been compensated by the government when the latter took their property? That argument is alive and well today among property rights absolutists
Or are propert owners only entitled to compensation when they are alienated from certain types of property? In which case, who determines which types of property can be alienated and which cannot?
This is simply shameful. A member of the Monroe County Economic Development Commission is actually arguing that "owning" human beings and forcing them to work without compensation against their will is the same as owning a piece of land and developing that land.
Sadly, this is not an unusual position for Monroe County Democrats. During a planning commission meeting in 1999, Perry Township Trustee Dan Combs compared people arguing for property rights against the minimum lot size requirement were the same as the people arguing for the "right" to own slaves in the 1800's. This shameful race baiting has no place in public discourse, especially when uttered by public officials like Travis and Combs.
It should be emphasized, once again, that Sophia Travis (a candidate for Monroe County Council) voted to place her husband in a position of authority on the MCEDC. Does Sophia Travis also believe that owning and developing land is the same as the abominable practice of slavery? She needs to answer this question.
If we had a newspaper worth the paper it is printed on, a reporter for the Herald-Times would have immediately asked Sophia Travis if she agrees with her husband's views. Since that is not the case, the Republicans running for Monroe County Council need to make this an issue in the campaign. It should not be the case that I am the only one willing to make this an issue.