To Woody Zimmerman,

I do not wish to dignify your sad, disturbed worldview by debating you. Just as I would not waste my time debating an anti-Semite or a racist, I do not wish to give credence to your ignorance or validate your doubling down column this week. However, I am one of  “the women” who responded to your hateful “column” of February 16th  “War on the Boy Scouts” and I want MY voice to be heard now.

Your recent column “Lessons Learned” states, “Many of those letters preached about dynamics in the Boy Scouts as though the writers really knew. Remarkable! How would women know anything about being a Boy Scout, except from second-hand info?

More than that, why would they care what the Scouts are or do?”

Why do we care? We are the mothers of the boys who are scouts. We surely care about the organizations we send our boys to be part of. Women are caregivers and women have felt the hate that you so freely dispense. So yes, we do care!

Women care about the home and the community and that is why you heard from so many women!

You have no idea of the disturbance you have caused in our community.

It is however, my outraged 20 year-old son who has encouraged me to respond to you. Your columns have made him very angry, when he is not being completely miffed by your misguided reasoning and your twisted analysis based in anything but reason and fact. We call what you write “polluted logic”.

You cannot say you wish to live in harmony, just by stating that “you once knew a gay person” and you just let him be!

Some of my best friends…

I do not wish to inform you or teach you, this is not as Mr. Dean would have liked it to be, a teachable moment. You Sir, are a bigot and bigots are not changed by reason or by words.  You do not matter in this, but our community does. You have, of course, completely missed the point of the letters that were written to the Herald. You most certainly have the RIGHT to spew your hateful message; the Constitution gives you that right; the question is should the Herald give you a forum for your message?

White Supremacists and Neo-Nazis have opinions too. If they write “well written” letters or columns should the Herald publish them? Should we debate them? Should we acknowledge them?

That is the question. Would the Herald have published an anti-Semitic column or a column in support of a return to slavery? Should someone have the right to say that the Jews deserved the Holocaust or that the reversal of slavery was a fundamental mistake in US history?  They do indeed; have the right to say those things. Would the Herald “defend to the death” someone writing this in a column, because it is his or her right to have that opinion? Or were you allowed to have your column published because it only concerned homosexuals?

Should there be editorial discretion that keeps people like you from being legitimized in our community?

You missed entirely what people were responding to when your last post in the Herald outraged them. People were enraged, not because you were exercising your right to free speech or whether the BSA has the right to fight for the right to maintain their anti-gay policies. People were responding to your ignorance and misinformed rhetoric, to your false equivalences and your “hate speech” and the fact that you were allowed to voice this in the Herald.bsa

When you call something hate speech it is because it is hate speech! People believe you have the right to say it. You DO have the right to say it, but it is still hateful.

And yes Mr. Zimmerman we are in more trouble than you think. Not because we have forgotten how to debate, but because our political discourse is clouded with people like you. Thankfully, your thinking is at odds with the majority of Americans, as shown by the most recent election and by the outpouring of negative response that you received from your last column.

You give conservatives a bad name. Of course you have the right to voice your opinion but you, like Mr. Dean, missed the point.  The question is should the Atlantic Highlands Herald give you a forum for your nonsense?

You say the science does not support that homosexuals can be good parents. This of course is also false, but you say it anyway. But more importantly, when has science ever been a consideration in conservative thought. The science here is NOT on your side. But of course, we know you think the jury is still out on evolution and global warming. Right? And certainly on whether a woman can become pregnant from being raped. Todd Akin found out what the American people thought of his scientific thoughts on “legitimate rape” and how “if it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to that whole thing down.” Also good scientific argument.

Your statement, “that not all gay men are pedophiles, but all males who molest boys are gay”, is a “Sherlock Holmes” analysis. Really? Is this your argument? A political debate should not revolve around hateful and misleading fallacies. Circular arguments prove nothing. Most pedophiles are heterosexuals.

Only straight men beat their wives so all straight men must be violent. Straight men beat their wives. Does this let us generalize that straight men are violent as a whole?  This is ignorant and false logic.  Gays are gays and pedophiles are pedophiles.

As I stated in my last letter, pedophilia is a sick and criminal behavior.  As parents we need to be vigilant in protecting our children from all dangers, but this has nothing at all to do with gay rights.

The fact that you continue to link homosexuality and pedophilia shows the very crux of your rant is your deep-seated homophobia and sadly, this is what informs your world.

It is my sincere hope that the Herald will print an apology for the total lack of understanding that allowed your “hate speech” to find a venue in our community. And I, like many others in our community, hope that you find another place to speak your truth. It most definitely is not welcome in our community.

Most Sincerely Yours,


Wendy Shankin-Cohen

Atlantic Highlands, NJ

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Allan Dean

Allan Dean is editor, publisher, and founder of the Atlantic Highlands Herald. Published since 1999 and selected in 2000 by the Borough of Atlantic Highlands as one of their official newspapers, making...