Oh noes, Northfield Police Chief John Helfant has a bad case of the hurt fee-fees. Helfant, who has somehow kept his job despite being labeled as an unreliable witness by the Washington County State’s Attorney, claims he’s a victim of retaliation for his bigoted comments about transgender athletes.
Let’s back up a minute. Helfant felt it necessary to wade into the controversy triggered by a disgrace-to-journalism report by WCAX-TV, since taken down and banished to purgatory, about the situation with the Randolph High School girls’ volleyball team. WCAX’s original report, for which it has failed to apologize and devoutly wishes would go away forever, featured one interview with an athlete who, at the bidding of her mother, went public with a complaint about a transgender team member. By all other accounts, she made up some shit about being harassed by the trans girl.
Helfant, who previously made a fuss about a Black Lives Matter flag at the high school, wrote a letter to school officials complaining about the equal accommodation offered to the trans girl and accusing the district of abetting criminal activity. Just to be sure it went public, he offered it up for publication by the Vermont Daily Chronicle. In it, Helfant repeatedly referred to trans girls as “biological males” or even as “male students” and called for them to be segregated in locker rooms and bathrooms. He wrote that the district might be criminal accessories to voyeurism for allowing the trans girl — oh, pardon me, “male student” — to use the gender-appropriate locker room.
The district has temporarily removed him as a volunteer coach for the girls’ soccer team, citing unfinished paperwork related to the customary background check for school coaches. You know, because there have been so many instances of youth coaches sexually abusing their charges, background checks seem like a good idea, no exceptions, even if you’re a police chief. Or, say, a Catholic priest.
Maybe it’s retaliation, I don’t know. But if I were running the district, Helfant would be kicked to the curb for good.
He obviously harbors negative views toward transgender people. What if there was a trans athlete on the soccer team? Would you want him in a position of authority over that athlete?
Of course you wouldn’t. School officials have to decide who’s a suitable coach and who isn’t. Helfant has shown he is unsuitable, full stop. This isn’t a free speech issue; he has no constitutional right to be a coach. It would simply be a case of district officials acting responsibly.
Besides being a transphobe, Helfant has also shown he’s not fit to be a coach by throwing his weight around over the Black Lives Matter flag. Not only did he want it taken down, he wanted it replaced with “Don’t Tread On Me” and “Thin Blue Line” flags.
In short, he’s a bully. It’s probably just as well that I’m not a school official, because I’d tell this clown to take all his complaints, turn ’em sideways, and stick ’em up his candy ass.
Not only should he be removed as coach, he ought to be dumped as police chief. Hew can he be expected to abide by the principles of fair and impartial policing when he’s got such retrograde views on racial justice and gender equality? A police chief has to be a real leader on fair and impartial policing because it involves changing the established culture.
Would you have any confidence that Helfant would be that kind of leader? Hell, no. Let’s hope his department comes in for serious scrutiny over its enforcement techniques and arrest records. If there’s an abusive pattern of any sort, Helfant is part of the problem, not part of the solution.
Get him out. Get him all the way out.
One more thing. The above photo is of Helfant at his 2018 retirement from the Vermont State Police. He spent 28 years on the force. In his less than four years as Northfield chief, he’s run afoul of the state’s attorney and repeatedly thrown his weight around the school district. Presumably he learned all he knows about responsible enforcement and civility while serving as a state trooper. What does that say about the culture of the Vermont State Police?
Racist and rabidly anti-LGBTQ right-wing extremists typically have pretty thin skins. They constantly spew hateful and bigoted vitriol but if anyone ever challenges them, they suddenly become the victim. The Allen’s decided to go on a hate-driven crusade against a teenager (with the eager participation of WCAX) with the intent of bringing other local conservatives, right-wing national media and hate groups into the fight. Well, they accomplished what they set out to do but now, don’t want to deal with the backlash. Tough.
I’m certainly not saying that the issue isn’t a complicated one and one which reasonable adults can disagree, but they should also be able to work out a reasonable solution that doesn’t intentionally set out to harm a child. Instead, the Allen’s and their supporters decided to go to the press and stir up a hornets nest. Now it looks like they may, rightfully, get stung. Any thinking person would question Allen and Helfant’s ability to do their jobs without bias – they’ve already proven that they can’t.
There have been many, many accusations of hate, etc against the people who agree with the Allens. NO ONE, NOT ONE PERSON, can supply evidence of that: a quote, a video clip, a posting ANYthing. Young girls (14 years old) should be able to change their clothes in private. Without ANYone watching. Period, full stop. THAT is what the Allen’s are fighting for, nothing more.
Did I say anything about the Allens? No, I did not.
Your response is just untrue. I’m not sure if you’re being intentionally disingenuous or if you’re just misinformed but you might try doing a little research. The Allen’s haven’t been exactly shy about their hatred for the LGBTQ community. Like most right-wing extremists, they are hate-driven bigots and bullies who absolutely intended to harm the trans girl and her family. Now they’re going on the right-wing grievance tour, which is hardly surprising. People like the Allens go out of their way to incite hatred towards other people but then cry like little babies when they get the backlash that they deserve. Reasonable adults could’ve handled this matter without turning it into a political circus, but that’s not who the Allens and their supporters are. They preferred to attack a teenager.
Walters, you write like this is news. It is merely Vermont. Just another day in Vermont.