Sufficiently descriptive language long ago failed to keep up with the immorality of Joe Mullins. Every time you think this smut of a man has plumbed the last possible depths of depravity–every time you think he couldn’t outdo wishing his opponents Auschwitz-bound trains or ISIStolic beheadings or other forms of bigotry-juiced extermination–this Bible-thumping thug of many talons finds a way yet again to outsmut himself.
In his latest social mierda hurl advertising his radio infomercial he pretends to propose a discussion about sexual predators and domestic violence abusers. For illustration, he features a screenshot of Bill Cosby over one article, and the image of Flagler Beach City Commissioner Eric Cooley’s mugshot over another.
Mullins’s stunt is defamation by false light. From a glass house.
A jury found Bill Cosby guilty of drugging and molesting a woman in a case that featured many other women who testified against him for the same, if uncharged, crime. In all, as NBC news reports, “Sixty women have accused Cosby, 83, of a variety of offenses, including groping, sexual assault and rape as far back as the 1960s.” The statute of limitations had passed for all of them but one, who got him convicted. The Pennsylvania Supreme Court overturned the conviction–not on evidentiary grounds, but on due process grounds: one prosecutor had previously decided not to file charges, the next decided to do so, something the court called a “coercive bait and switch.” Due process is nothing to be trifled with. The decision was correct, even if the outcome was not just.
Cooley was accused of domestic violence in July 2018. The state attorney filed the misdemeanor charge in August and dropped it two months later. It isn’t excusing him to say that due process matters here, too. But of course it does. And voters have excused him. They had a chance to vote him out last March. They stuck with him. The city commission had its own chance to deny him the chairmanship. It did not, for good reason: His record on the commission–and off, for that matter, even before he was elected–has been among the most commendable of local elected officials. County commissioners could learn a few things from him, starting with doing their homework.
But the point of Mullins’s attack–the crux of its depravity–is the equivalency: Cosby, rapist, predator. Cooley, domestic abuser. Same.
No. Not by a mile. Not by a universe. Set aside Cosby and Cooley for a moment. Never mind that while the two issues do at times intersect, the equivalency fails as obviously as if he were to say that–for example–if some county commissioners are idiots, as some clearly are, then all county commissioners are idiots, as most clearly are not. You’re better off examining predators and domestic abusers (or idiots) singly if bringing light to an issue is your aim. But this isn’t about bringing light to anything. It’s the opposite.
Mullins’s infomercial is a political gutter. He smears. He props up his smallness by debasing others. And he does so with blinders to his own personal rot. If it’s depraved equivalencies he’s comfortable with, his inclusion of Cooley in that posting is no different than if Cooley were to do the same on his page and imply that Mullins is a whoremonger, just because the Florida Department of Law Enforcement investigated the allegation that he was (as it did last year). Never mind that the FDLE found no grounds to pursue. Never mind that even I defended the dolt against the smear. We live in a time–and a community–where, with the likes of Alan Lowe, Victor Barbosa and Mullins, allegation is all: Accuse the mayor or the city manager of being corrupt. Claim they’re under investigation. Repeat. Again. And again. And again. It’ll stick. It’ll invent a narrative, no matter how false, how slanderous, how ironically reflective of corrupt thinking. Why not, if it gets you elected and runs others off?
Mullins is spraying the same filth on Cooley, as he does on anyone who scratches his insecurities’ scabs. He runs on venom. His infomercials have nothing to do either with information or advertising, other than that they are 28-minute ads for himself that he pays for. He designs them as radio’s equivalent of straw men. He sets up a target then bludgeons it at will. Fact, evidence, truth, ethics, scruples: none of that interferes. In the eternal words of Teddy Roosevelt (referring to William Jennings Bryan), he then proceeds to make “a blithering ass” of himself, but at other people’s expense.
Cooley, primarily a local business owner (he owns the 7-Eleven in Flagler Beach), has been one of a small handful of elected officials who have called out Mullins for years, and the only one to do so as consistently as he does publicly. He did so recently, defending the city’s decision not to hold July 4 fireworks and the traditional parade. Mullins called Cooley and his colleagues “cowards” and implied, on zero evidence, that the city had misappropriated money for fireworks (it has not).
But this latest Mullins attack is on Cooley the person, the business owner, the community member. And for it to appear over the WNZF logo implicates WNZF and Flagler Broadcasting–and all of us in local media, not just those of us associated with WNZF. If the association between Cosby and Cooley is defamatory, the fact that it seeks cover behind the WNZF logo soils the radio station’s brand and what it stands for. As I wrote WNZF’s David Ayres, we cannot in media be abettors of the irresponsible and unethical. We must uphold mutually defensible standards. This is not defensible. He agreed. But even if the infomercial itself doesn’t replicate the defamation (Mullins doesn’t want to lose his broadcasting perch), the damage, once again, is done. And Mullins’s commission colleagues, once again, will keep their know-nothing kissers shut.