56ºF

Brevard County commissioner under fire for controversial Facebook posts

Bryan Lober directs comments at Brevard Democratic Party chair Stacy Patel

Brevard County Commissioner Bryan Lober (Image: Facebook)

BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. – County commissioner Bryan Lober is once again under fire for comments he made on social media, reports News 6 partner Florida Today.

Lober often posts critical pictures and comments about Democrats to his page and argues with individual commenters. This time he appeared to joke about targeting protesters with a snow plow and advocating for abortions for liberals, most notably Brevard County Democratic Party chair Stacy Patel.

One of the exchanges on Lober's page began with a joke about the car attack at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia in 2017. As the rally was dispersing, a 21-year-old Ohio man drove a 2010 Dodge Charger into a crowd of people protesting the rally, killing one and injuring 28.

“Word of wisdom to the protesters – Beware of the Dodge Chargers!” a commenter wrote in response to a post by Lober.

“I wouldn’t recommend using a snow plow. It might look intentional,” Lober wrote in reply, adding a winking emoji.

He also made comments targeting Patel, saying that although he disagrees with abortion, he might “look the other way” if Patel and other liberals sought abortions.

“I can only imagine what a scourge on humanity (and our economy) her offspring would prove to be given that her litter would likely be raised with an entitlement mentality, zero work ethic and, and taught the hypocritically racist and sexist position that the white man is evil,” Lober wrote. “Unfortunately those least capable of properly raising children typically procreate without a second thought.”

Lober's Facebook page has become a microcosm that reflects a divisive political climate ⁠— liberals and conservatives alike spar and swear in the comments section of his posts. That's becoming the norm in American politics, said Aubrey Jewett, an associate political science professor at the University of Central Florida. It has become more and more common in recent years for politicians to post controversial things on Facebook, Jewett said.

Politics has always been a bit uncivil. The Founding Fathers engaged in name-calling and personal attacks themselves. But things that would be unthinkable for politicians to say years ago have become more common, Jewell said.

“Personally, I think there should be a line,” Jewett said. “Where that line should be has become rather blurred.”

Sometimes off-color and controversial statements can have real impacts on politicians, losing them supporters or even elections. Other times those comments can actually help a politician; they project an image of a blunt straight-shooter who isn’t afraid to speak out against the establishment, he said. 

Some of that is due to social media, Jewett said. People have become less civil on social media thanks to the cloak of anonymity online platforms bring, and that change in society has changed politicians too.

Another factor is the election of President Donald Trump, Jewett said. He believes politicians on both sides of the aisle have begun to follow his lead since the election.

“There are other examples, but on Twitter, Trump has turned (incivility) into an art form,” Jewett said.

The posts Lober made appear to have been deleted. Screenshots provided to Florida Today show supporters agreeing with the comments, but several commenters on subsequent posts by Lober have criticized his previous comments.

Bryan Lober criticizes county Democratic Party chair Stacey Patel in a Facebook comment. (Photo: Jenna Roberts)

Lober refused to be interviewed about the posts.

“I do not participate in interviews with (Florida Today) as my comments may be taken out of context,” he wrote in an email.

Patel called the post about her "cruel" and "unprovoked." In a statement, she said it was dehumanizing for Lober to refer to her potential children as a "litter" and a "scourge on humanity."

"It is entirely inappropriate to dehumanize one's political adversary ... I’m saddened that our national politics has normalized such discourse, and I truly hope that our neighbors, regardless of party, won’t stand silent while such poison seeps into our community," she wrote in a statement.

Lober has previously come under fire for behavior on Facebook that his opponents call uncivil. In March, Patel criticized Lober for threatening to contact the employer of a resident who criticized him. The resident had called him a hypocrite and used used the F-word.

"Does your employer, whose name you post on your Facebook page, know you denigrate public officials while displaying their name? I'll make sure they know," Lober wrote in March.

Patel, speaking as a Satellite Beach resident, appeared at a March 12 county commission meeting to raise her concerns about his behavior, calling him “uncivil” and “authoritarian” and accusing him of violating the resident's freedom of speech.