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Chief Justice Richard A. Robinson and House Speaker Joe Aresimowicz Hate speech will not halt justice

March 1, 2019 GMT

On Feb. 5, at a public forum regarding family court reform, one of the participants emphasized the need for a civil discourse. We could not agree more, and in fact appreciate that so many individuals attended the forum to discuss their concerns and experiences with family court. Amid criticism, there are often good ideas. The Judicial Branch and the Legislature — as separate but co-equal branches of government — intend to work together, as we have done before, to continue improving the system for the Connecticut families we serve.

While public discourse is fundamental to our nation’s democratic process, hate speech in public discourse challenges our ability to have civil debates about important issues. Civil discourse is a two-way street. That does not mean words may not be heated or even harsh. If you are to succeed in public service, a thick skin is required, and we are fully cognizant of the protections provided by the First Amendment.

Yet one cowardly voice, driven by malice and petulance, severely diminishes the chorus of those who truly want change. We are talking about a hate-filled blog (thefamilycourtcircus.com), racist, homophobic, misogynistic and anti-Semitic to its core, that has regularly targeted particular family court judges, legislators, attorneys, parties in family court cases, journalists, school officials, mental health professionals, law enforcement and pretty much anyone else who doesn’t drink from the blogger’s poison pen. Innocent children’s names and personal information have been bandied about without restraint, and it’s a cause for celebration when the loved one of a targeted person dies.

In many ways, it is an equal opportunity blog: no faith, race, ethnicity or sexual orientation is spared from its vitriolic rhetoric — “chinachink,” “sambo,” “cracker,” “she devil” — it’s all there. Its message clearly is intended to incite violent fringe elements, and it casts a wide net for targets: it is anti-Semitic one day, misogynistic another.

A few sample posts include:

“Why is it when black folk get into responsible positions in society they start acting like elite white folk? Our n----r boy Chief Justice Robinson of the Connecticut Supreme Court rose to a position to suck jewish ----.

“When the laws are ignored by the courts, the Second Amendment holds special purpose. The ultimate fix for … Family Court of Connecticut” (underneath a photo of a military-style assault rifle.)

“Proof is in the pudding. The custody law of the jewish state of Connecticut is a page right out of the Talmud. Rabbinical rule over the goyim is codified in state statute to permit the jewdicial authorities to steal children at will.”

“But then there are d-kes [names of female judges] who relish in tearing families apart.”

And those are some of the tamer remarks. Make no mistake: the words are intended to harass, intimidate and taunt. But not surprisingly, they have had quite the opposite effect — we are more determined than ever, in our respective roles, to do what’s right. The Judicial Branch and the Legislature have worked collaboratively over the past several years to make changes in how family court matters are resolved. If we are to continue in our effort to improve the delivery of services in family court, or any court for that matter, it is imperative that this blog and any of its ilk be disavowed by anyone serious about change. Anyone who supports, believes, excuses or defends such hate-filled words is not serious about helping to make our courts responsive to the needs of our citizens.

This heinous blog is disturbing on so many levels and needs to be exposed for what it is, but we will not let it stop us from engaging in a civil, public discourse on the important matters before us.

Richard A. Robinson is chief justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court; Joe Aresimowicz is speaker of the state House of Representatives.