Letter: Words forged on Bristol's town seal: ‘virtue’ and ‘industry’

Posted 3/16/23

To the editor:

I read the letters in the March 9 issue which referenced Robert Botehlo’s proposal presented at the March 1, 2023 Town Council meeting . I went to the Town website and …

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Letter: Words forged on Bristol's town seal: ‘virtue’ and ‘industry’


To the editor:

I read the letters in the March 9 issue which referenced Robert Botehlo’s proposal presented at the March 1, 2023 Town Council meeting. I went to the Town website and watched the recording of that interaction between the Town Council and Mr. Botelho. I also read and watched Channel 12’s article and video covering that event, and read any other info that I could find in my search. I personally have no opinion as to whether the ordinance needs to be, should or should not be changed, and that is absolutely not the point of my letter. My issue is how the proposal  was received and handled.

Two thoughts come to mind.

The first is that Mr. Botelho was simply asking for the town to consider aligning the Bristol ordinance with that which is already in place in the Town of Warren. Critics of the proposal mockingly suggested that cheerleading, ballet dancing and local schools and other dance venues could be called under scrutiny if the language was changed to be more restrictive, as it already is in Warren. So…are we seeing and hearing complaints from the schools, dance schools and venues, and cheerleading squads in Warren that their events are being negatively impacted by the ordinance? Is Warren’s more restrictive ordinance posing problems in the community?

It is worth noting that Hometown Tavern, located in Warren, actually hosted a drag brunch in December of 2022, which Mr. Botelho said he attended. So, it seems that the more restrictive ordinance in place in Warren did not impede the drag event there. How could critics and council members pointedly claim that Mr. Botelho’s primary motivation is to target drag events when such an event is permitted under the more restrictive ordinance language in Warren?

Second, is my disappointment in the tone of the reception of citizen Botelho’s proposal. On that I will simply say that in an effort to promote inclusion and diversity in a community, it is the responsibility of community members to be attentive, sympathetic and respectful toward every person living in it, particularly when one citizen does research and bravely presents his suggestion, standing before a packed house, ACLU reps and the press. It is unacceptable that this man has received threatening messages because of his proposal, and was shut down at the council meeting within 10 minutes.

I would have liked to have seen more tolerance, more openness, dare I say, more virtue, in line with Bristol’s original core values, from the council members, by agreeing to at least consider the proposal and its implications for our town. The calm voice of reason rather than the shrill expression of outrage is what generates cohesiveness and solid community  progress. I think we need to do better. 

Jean Sharac

Richmond Street

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A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.