COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - More than 30 Democratic state lawmakers are sponsoring a bill censuring their Republican colleague Rep. Victor Dabney, R-Kershaw.
This is in response to Dabney’s statements on social media regarding the hate crimes bill that the South Carolina House of Representatives passed Wednesday.
In a post on Facebook before the bill passed, which has since been deleted, Dabney said he would not vote for the hate crime bill and said he feels his way of life has been “vilified” by Democrats.
The resolution says Dabney, “has brought dishonor to himself, the state of South Carolina, and to its citizens.”
In a one-on-one interview, Dabney said being censured, “doesn’t bother him” and he holds no “ill will” towards his colleagues. However, his concern remains that the hate crime bill that passed the lower chamber creates a slippery slope, which could lead to future restrictions on free speech in South Carolina.
“These types of laws lead to the hate speech laws, suppressing our first amendment rights like you and I are having a free exchange of information. That’s what I’m afraid of…people are already afraid to speak the truth,” Dabney said. “If laws stopped hateful people from doing hateful things we wouldn’t have any crime.”
Bill sponsor Rep. Wendell Gilliard, D-Charleston, said he knows this bill won’t stop being from being hateful, but the legislation is important.
“This will send a message that South Carolina understands the need to protect all citizens and that we understand as a lawmaking body we must continue to create policies that aim to protect our citizens,” Gilliard said.
After a news conference celebrating the passage of the hate crime bill, lawmakers explicitly only expressed openness to answering questions on the legislation itself.
Rep. John King, D-Rock Hill, wrote in a statement Wednesday that he is, “shocked, appalled, and disgusted by the words of Representative Dabney. His statement was overtly racist and deeply offensive to me, my colleagues, and all South Carolinians who believe our elected officials must do better.”
When asked about whether offending his colleague in this way gives him any pause, Dabney said it does not.
“I would maybe 10, 20, 30, 40 years ago. Yes, but at this point in my life. I don’t know what more can be done to, you know, as a white man to help the Black man, Okay. We’ve had integration since I was in the second grade. Okay. Most of the young Black people I know go to college, they’re going through the same educational system that my kids and grandkids and great-great grandkids go through. Okay, I’m not sure why the outcome is different, you’d have to ask I guess the Black community, you know where’s the disconnect,” Dabney said.
“You’re getting the same education. Okay, you’re getting all the way through K through four years of college, same, same instructor same professors, I’m not sure where the disconnect is,” he added.
Dabney also mentioned that he thinks a larger problem impacting both Black and white communities is the “breakdown of the family” and some children going through without a father figure and that, in general, could lead to potential problems in the child’s development.
When asked specifically about the line in his post saying, “we are the reason that blacks can’t seem to succeed in our society,” referring to himself and his white colleagues says he was being facetious. “I was saying that to emphasize the fact that it seemed like it’s, for some reason, my fault they’re not doing better. It’s not my fault, they can do better, they have done better in the past,” he said. “Black people don’t need help, they are smart people, they are hardworking people, they don’t need help.”
In a statement on whether any action will be taken against Rep. Dabney after these comments, the office of the Speaker of the SC State House said, “the Speaker’s office is aware of the matter and is looking into it.”