Two weeks ago, I reported that West Chester’s  Community Outfest was canceled allegedly due to “hate and vitriol directed to the event and the organizers,” (emphasis added). Organizers claimed that after receiving these unkind words, they did not feel it was a safe space for the community.

Council President Michael Stefano told CBS Philadelphia that members of the council received a ton of emails. “Pretty much outrage that this event was going to go on,” Stefano said, (emphasis added).

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported, “West Chester canceled an LGBTQ celebration this week after receiving dozens of emails that the borough council president said were ‘hate-filled’ and ‘vitriolic.’”

Hate, vitriol, outrage, a “ton of emails” and “dozens of emails” — these are all words that Borough Council President Stefano used at the council meeting, in a written statement, and with the local media. The Philadelphia media did not hesitate to push out a narrative that West Chester is an intolerant, unaccepting, LGBT-hating community. 

When exactly did hate become a political weapon? Maybe it started with the advent of the “Hate has no home here” signs posted to deflect the hateful messages away from the groups responsible for it. It has become clear that the radical left has weaponized hate, and it is one of the reasons why Tulsi Gabbard left the Democratic party.

I was immediately wary of the massive claims of hate and vitriol. As a twenty-year resident of this vibrant college town, I have never witnessed wholesale hate expressed towards any members of the LGBT community or towards any groups whatsoever. Therefore, I submitted a Right to Know request to review the emails to better assess the level of hate towards this event.

I completed a comprehensive, qualitative review of the 458 pages received from the borough. I extracted the emails that were sent prior to the cancellation and expressed any concern about the event. There were a total of nine emails that met this criteria, and two were nearly identical from the same household.

I reviewed those emails critically and asked two other people to do the same. Independently, the three of us rated the emails and agreed that there was not a single email that met the threshold of hate or vitriol. Most were respectfully written and professional. Even those that were written with an edgy tone did not rise to the level of hatred.

However, there were some hate-filled emails and posts subsequent to the cancellation of the event. The West Chester Republican committee posted on their Facebook page to encourage anyone with concerns about the drag queen show event to attend the Council meeting (posted below). There was nothing hateful or inappropriate about their post. Yet, the committee received actual threats in the form of emails and posts that warranted filing a police report, two of which are appended to my documentation of the nine emails.

Despite Council’s claims of being the recipients of hate, it appears that they actually incited hate with their misrepresentations of the emails received.

What was the real purpose behind Council’s statements? Could it be that the event did not have enough support, both from a financial and volunteer standpoint? Councilmember Bernie Flynn emailed one person saying, “the main sponsor pulled out and there wasn’t enough volunteers or vendors.”

The group planning the event, the West Chester Business Improvement District (BID) shared in a statement. “While there were many logistical challenges that contributed to this decision, including a low number of vendors and volunteers to make it a successful event, it was also due to the vitriol and hate directed at this event and its organizers.”

Stuck in a situation where the BID did not have enough volunteers or financial backing, they were forced to cancel the event. It was easy to blame the cancellation on hatred. The Borough Council and Mayor — all registered Democrats — jumped on the “vitriolic” bandwagon and used hate as their weapon to call out respectful, concerned citizens as bigots.

When asked at both the Oct. 19 council meeting and in a subsequent email about the misrepresentations, Mr. Stefano did not respond.

The radical council members continue to disrespect anyone who thinks differently than they do, despite their claims of focusing on unity and inclusivity. They continue to weaponize hate by accusing those who disagree with them as vitriolic bullies. This behavior results in dissuading community members to speak out for fear of being called a racist, homophobe, or a hater.

It is well past time for the West Chester Council to stop playing party politics and take responsibility for their actions and words. It is not acceptable for elected officials to make such controversial and heated claims that are not even remotely accurate.

Beth Ann Rosica holds a Ph.D. in Education and has dedicated her career advocating on behalf of underserved children and families. She owns a consulting business and lives with her family in West Chester, Pa.

14 thoughts on “Beth Ann Rosica: West Chester Council lies to media, public on “hate-filled,” “vitriolic” response to canceled LGBT event”

  1. Would love to know who or WHAT is pulling their strings.

    Some real evil these days…

    THOSE WE ELECT OWE US THE TRUTH, THE WHOLE TRUTH, AND NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH,

    SO HELP THEM GOD.

    1. Who is pulling the strings? Not the unelected Koch brothers, not tech elite and Zuckerberg buddy peter theil, not the “second most powerful man in the world” according to Clarence Thomas: Leo Leonard, not MSM mogul Rupert Murdoch, not corporate news outlets like Fox news.

      1. Are The Rothchilds pulling the strings?

        Oh oh don’t tell me… the Zionists, yes? Am I close?

        Do tell Cero.

        Are you the magic 8 ball?

  2. So we’re supposed to blindly trust Ms.Rosica’s subjective interpretation here? Why doesn’t she post quotes? Must be pretty embarrassing.

    Coming from people who officially condone death threats against those who questioned Trump on 1/6 as “legitimate political discourse”, forgive me if I have a hard time taking her word for what constitutes hateful speech and vitriol.

    1. People can follow the links included in the article and see the content themselves. While some expressed opinions you may not agree with, none of them remotely reach the level that was described by the council and then repeated and reported in numerous news outlets. Further, while Michael Stefano had no problem lecturing Ms. Rosica last month following her rational and not at all hateful comment, he had nothing to say at this meeting to defend his false representations when confronted with the truth. Stop believing these lies that are only intended to further divide us.

    2. Obviously “Cicero” is a pathetic goober who attempted to participate in a battle of wits, but sadly came unarmed

    3. No Cicero, you may follow the links in Dr. Rosica’s article and read the emails yourself. You may then watch the video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gC_5sRbguG4) where she reviews the emails for the emails for the West Chester Borough Council and is greeted with head down silence by the Council.

      Many of us proudly display “Hate has no home here” signs in our yards. Sadly some us live their lives displaying “Facts have no home here” in their behavior.

    4. No Cicero, you may follow the links in Dr. Rosica’s article and read the emails yourself. You may then watch the video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gC_5sRbguG4) where she reviews the emails for the West Chester Borough Council and is greeted with head down silence by the Council.

      Many of us proudly display “Hate has no home here” signs in our yards. Sadly some us live their lives displaying “Facts have no home here” in their behavior.

  3. This reader reviewed all 9 of the e-mails to which this article links.

    Objectively, the only two “hateful and vitriolic” communications are from event supporters (IMHO). These two communications actually illustrate the absence of civility, respect and tolerance for those who either do not accept the idea of or disagree with specific obscene content and lewd performances during this proposed outdoor, public event. Outfest was to be held in downtown West Chester – the county seat of Chester County, PA – a public setting where minors are present on a daily basis.

    Think about that for just a minute.

    This reader imagines that the two “hateful” and “vitriolic” posts were expressed and written by overly zealous individuals / keyboard warriors who either do not have children or are probably not parents.

    Further, several of the 9 e-mails even offer positive support of the LGBTQ+ community – which this reader proudly supports – as well as simply suggesting the more risque elements of the event be held in an appropriate forum or private venue for adults.

    How is offering positive support for the LGBTQ+ community and suggesting an alternative private venue for adults “hate”? How is this “vitriol”?

    Mr. Stefano? Could you please respond to these questions?

    CRICKETS.

    Objecting to the potential for obscene performances occurring during the day in public spaces where minors are present is not “hate” nor “vitriolic”.

    It IS common sense.

    Especially for those of us who respect ALL Moms, Dads, Children and Families – and respect the fact that public spaces are to be enjoyed – and need to be safe – FOR ALL – not just specific identity groups.

    The type of action and behavior displayed in the last two communications by event supporters is polarizing, blatantly threatening and destructive to us all.

    Being able to enjoy our lives – without the prospect of lewd public performances being extended to minors as well as being able to freely voice our concerns without the threat of physical harm or doxxing – should be something we all can collaborate on to find a solution where WE ALL WIN.

    Characterizing the views of others who object to Outfest as “hate” is simply false – and shows a complete lack of understanding of our most basic freedom: Freedom of Speech, Thought and Expression.

    The false accusation made by Mr. Stefano – and then amplified by The Inquirer, WHYY and CBS – without investigating the accuracy and validity of his purported assertion – is simply the projection of a false narrative and only serves to increase the this reader’s and the general public’s skepticism and wariness of elected officials as well as print, digital and televised information sources.

    All of us need to be able to make decisions with informed consent based upon accurate, reliable information.

    This reader considers Mr. Stefano’s false assertion, the rabid amplification of a false narrative by WHYY, CBS and The Inquirer – to be deceptive and intentionally manipulative.

    The last two communications linked to in this article very clearly fall into the category of PUBLIC ENDANGERMENT.

    Mr. Stefano? Could you please explain how objecting to the potential for obscene performances occurring during the day in public spaces where minors are present is “hate” or “vitriolic”?

    Hello, Mr. Stefano? Are you listening? Do you listen to ALL of your constituents, or only those who CONFIRM YOUR BIASES?

    CRICKETS.

    PFFFT.

  4. Drag queens? you mean guys dressed up as women?? How about getting some real hot chick poll dancers and hand out some dollar bills to the kids to stuff in their g strings and bras? now we’re talkin’.

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