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Hagen: A disturbing trend in Tempe's civic discourse


In recent days, a troubling pattern has emerged within our community, one that undermines the very principles of open dialogue and accountability that are fundamental to a healthy democracy.

The incident involving Tempe City Council candidate David Lucier's racially insensitive remark towards Ty Lee, a respected member of our community, has not only sparked outrage but has also exposed a concerning attempt to silence those who dare to speak out.

The Arizona Asian Chamber of Commerce's statement on Wednesday, Feb. 21, condemning Lucier's remarks, was a necessary and brave stand against racism.

Yet, instead of fostering a constructive discussion on the issue, what followed was a series of actions aimed at muting the voices of those affected and concerned.

The actions of Ron Tapscott, a moderator of the Tempe Neighborhood and Homeowners Association Facebook group, are particularly alarming.

His dismissive and disrespectful comments under the pretense of questioning the validity of the incident, and later, the removal and manipulation of posts related to the matter, demonstrate a blatant disregard for open discourse.

This isn't just about moderating a social media group; it's about who gets to control the narrative in our community.

Furthermore, the involvement of Lauren Kuby, David Lucier's campaign manager, in these events raises serious questions. Her suggestion to have Ron remove his comments, followed by Ron’s initial deletion of the entire original post, whether intentional or unintentional, without my consent, indicates an unsettling prioritization.

Instead of addressing the core issue – Lucier's unapologetic stance towards his offensive remark – the focus shifted to controlling the conversation around it.

What's more troubling is the lack of a public apology from Lucier himself. A leader's character is revealed not just in their actions but also in their response to criticism. The failure to acknowledge and apologize for a racially insensitive remark is not only a personal failing but a public concern, especially for someone aspiring to hold a public office.

This series of events, culminating in the restriction of my ability to freely post and the selective enforcement of group rules, paints a disturbing picture.

It's a scenario where those in positions of influence, whether in a social media group or a political campaign, use their power to silence dissenting voices.

This isn't just about one post or one group; it's a reflection of a larger issue within our civic society where inconvenient truths are swept under the rug.

As a community, we must stand against such attempts to stifle open dialogue. We must demand accountability and transparency from our leaders and those who represent us.

The incident involving Ty Lee is not just an isolated event; it's a litmus test for our community's commitment to equality, respect, and open discourse.

The path forward requires us to engage in honest and sometimes uncomfortable conversations. It demands that we hold those in power accountable for their actions and their words.

Most importantly, it calls for us to support and amplify the voices that are often marginalized and silenced.

In conclusion, the way we handle incidents like these defines who we are as a community.

Let's choose to be a community that values respect, embraces diversity, and upholds the principles of open and honest dialogue. Let's be a community where everyone's voice matters.


Gabe Hagen co-owns Brick Road Coffee in Tempe with his husband, Jesse. Gabe and Jesse pride themselves on creating a community space that is LGBTQ+ and sober-community-friendly.