Asbury Park Press
January 24, 2008

Thursday Letters to the Press

Don't overreact to one comment

It is a mistake to determine a person's character by a single statement. This is the mistake made in the Jan. 17 letter "Activist's term offensive," regarding Carolyn Schwebel, longtime chairwoman of Middletown's Human Rights Committee.

Any valid human relations group should include members of varying races, ethnicities, religions, gender orientations, abilities, etc. It is not only appropriate but necessary that such a panel leader ask that those appointments be made. When politics enters the appointment process, troubles occur.

More importantly, Schwebel's character has been assailed. I have worked with her for 16 years in another human relations group. I have yet to meet a more compassionate person. She is the first to point out that an act of discrimination or bias against one person is an affront to all.

Schwebel frequently represents the interests of the disabled community. When direct and polite information of discriminatory practice, brought to the attention of authorities, is not enough to bring corrective action, she uses the laws and even the court system to rectify a wrong. Those more concerned with keeping costs down will object and therein lies the problem. Failure to appoint or, in this case, reappoint someone to a paid or volunteer position in response to a disability lawsuit is itself against the law.

Instead of being shocked or insulted, the writer should get to know Schwebel, whose ability and qualifications are unparalleled. She is a credit to her community.

Linda Zucaro