SIMMONS: Catania outburst, Barry anger the product of deep-seated antipathy

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Do not for one second expect Marion Barry and David A. Catania to kiss and make up after their un-Hallmark-like spat on Valentine’s Day.

It isn’t gonna happen.

At a D.C. Council retreat on Tuesday, Mr. Catania hurled a personal insult at Mr. Barry, calling him a “despicable human being,” according to news reports. For his part, Mr. Barry characterized Mr. Catania as anti-black, saying, “David has a pattern of attacking black men.”

Now, it doesn’t matter what you think of either politician — one a black civil rights activist who was born and reared in the conservative politics of Jim Crow’s Deep South and the other an open homosexual who has made quite a name for himself fighting as a staunch supporter of gay civil rights.

Those points of view are in their respective DNA and cannot be changed.

And while members of the media have long watched these two men go at it and seen Mr. Catania lob stinging rhetorical barbs at his fellow council members and witnesses at public hearings, his profanity-laced outbursts Tuesday were disgraceful nonetheless.

Here are some hints to describe some of the terms the potty-mouthed Mr. Catania spewed.

In one tirade, he used a four-letter word that most family newspapers do not publish. Suffice it to say, that word begins with an F.

The other word, made up of eight letters, is alluded to in Tennessee Williams’ “Cat on a Hot Tin Roof,” in which one of the main characters, Big Daddy, uses a favorite saying, “bull,” whenever he tosses someone’s point of view in the toilet, where it belongs.

So you see, what Mr. Catania said is that he has no respect for Mr. Barry as a human being and he dislikes Mr. Barry’s points of view.

Council Chairman Kwame R. Brown said Wednesday morning that he’ll speak with Mr. Barry, Mr. Catania and their colleagues to ensure they all respect the institution that is the D.C. Council.

But he must not tread in the arena of free speech with this one.

Heated arguments among lawmakers are part and parcel of public discourse in this heyday of reality TV, as they give the public a close-up look in living color, if you will, at a legislator’s true personal motives and intent.

All that said, at the end of the day, even if apologies are made, sanctions are leveled and lawmakers are encouraged to make nice and always use their inside voices, it’s illogical to think Mr. Barry and Mr. Catania would ever sincerely embrace each another.

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About the Author
Deborah Simmons

Deborah Simmons

Award-winning opinion writer Deborah Simmons is a senior correspondent who reports on City Hall and writes about education, culture, sports and family-related topics. Mrs. Simmons has worked at several newspapers, and since joining The Washington Times in 1985, has served as editorial-page editor and features editor and on the metro desk. She has taught copy editing at the University of ...

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