Serving Proudly As The Voice Of Valley County Since 1913

Horn Public Forum

Dear Editor,

I attended the public forum held by Joe Horn’s biological daughters, Amy Horn-Brown and Gail Horn-Hayes, at the Elks on Oct. 6.

I did not attend as a representative of the Courier, nor am I writing this as a representative of the Courier; these are my personal thoughts and feelings. Although I hope that people reading this will trust my sincerity and respect my opinions, I am fully aware that I am opening myself up to name-calling and derision from certain members of the community.

I am a lifelong resident of Valley County and I consider myself to be a fair, empathetic person, but not very tolerant of hypocrites.

Although I have no first-hand knowledge of any events leading up to the forum, as I understand it Amy and Gail wanted an opportunity to share their thoughts about Joe and his bid for the position of Valley County Sheriff in the upcoming election. I assume they were not forced by anybody to come to Glasgow and I’m sure they had some assistance in making the arrangements for the afternoon.

I also assume that the majority of people in attendance had a pretty good idea of what was going to be said that evening because some of them came prepared with notes, documentation and a whole lot of narrow-mindedness.

I do have to clarify: I did not stay for the entire forum. I was so entirely disgusted by the behavior of some of the people in attendance, I chose to leave about halfway through the event.

Some things I will refer to are based on things I actually saw and heard while I was there. The rest of my information is from videos taken that night and reactions on social media in the days following.

Also, while most of my thoughts are not specifically about Joe Horn, references to him and his character are unavoidable.

From the very beginning of the forum, the atmosphere was unwelcoming and not at all conducive to civility or compassion. The anger toward Amy and Gail was palpable.

The people that I will refer to as the “Joe supporters” (their words, not mine) monopolized the “discussion” most of the night, usually with yelling, taunting, mocking and snide comments. It was less than one minute into Amy’s initial statement to the crowd that she was interrupted by an audience member and peppered with questions and accusations.

While Amy and Gail tried to speak of their experiences growing up with Joe, his supporters interrupted incessantly, at times reducing the two women to tears and laughing at things they said.

When Amy and Gail said they were contacted by two people in our community with stories of being abused by Joe Horn, the Joe supporters sneered and dismissed the possibility. They wanted proof.

When they spoke of being made to strip naked and being beaten with a belt so severely it left welts, the Joe supporters guffawed and said, “We all were spanked when we were younger!”

A former Valley County Sheriff justified severe spankings: “When I was in school, paddlings with a great big paddle were quite common. Sometimes when administered in gym class with gym shorts on, it left welts for days, or even drew blood.”

He also said, “Back then we didn’t go home and whine to our folks about getting a spanking,” and, “As a former law-enforcement officer, it is often a quantitative measure between what is corporal punishment and what is abuse.”

When the same former law-enforcement officer asked Amy if the two victims in our community have been forensically interviewed and he was told that she couldn’t talk about it, his response was, “So, if they have a hard-on against Joe and they’re lying, you’re just going by what their word is.”

Another time when Amy and Gail referred to being abused by Joe, one person asked for proof of counseling. “Do you have proof or documentation of counseling or these accusations being true? Do you have that proof to show us today coming here?”

Amy was asked if she told her kids where she was going when she came to Glasgow and when she replied that they did, she was called a liar. “It’s hard to believe anything coming out of your mouth,” said one Joe supporter.

They were also chastised by one Joe supporter because, according to her, Joe worked two jobs so the girls could be in sports. “Gail, you’re an athlete, correct? Did you not go to an Olympic training center? Did he not pay for that?”

Then, there were the Christians and the “God-loving” people in the audience, yelling at Amy and Gail to “Go home!” and telling them to “get over it” because “People grow up. People move on. You don’t live in the past!”

The Joe supporters didn’t stop at accusing Amy and Gail, either. Apparently if a person doesn’t think like they do, that means they are participating in dirty politics and are part of a large conspiracy theory to keep Joe Horn out of office. “I wouldn’t trust any of the clan that brought them here, either.”

“Lies, lies, lies…seems to be the foundation of this county and many citizens of it right now.”

“You go ahead a (sic) do what you do, but a liar is filth! And this dirty campaign by these supporters putting on this show is filth!”

While Joe’s supporters claim he is running a clean campaign, one of them came to the forum armed with texts that were sent between Joe and his daughter Amy. Those texts weren’t shared with his supporters by Amy, so it seems Joe might be stirring the pot himself in a round-a-bout way.

In addition, the Joe supporters quite evidently feel entitled to be privy to any and all information about any abuses alleged by anybody, anywhere, anytime. They want proof. They want details. If that proof isn’t in their hands, it’s all lies and false allegations. “When you know a man for 20 years and then all of a sudden, out of the blue, somebody comes in and makes false allegations…”

Despite the fact that Amy and Gail indicated that they tried to tell about the abuse for years, the Joe supporters were convinced that they were only making allegations in an effort to sabotage Joe’s campaign.

During the forum, Joe Horn was described by one supporter as a highly-respected man that has been above reproach during all of his years in Glasgow. “He’s got 20 years of fine performance in Valley County and Glasgow.”

So, why would Joe’s two biological daughters say such awful things about him? “It’s a false claim because they’re mad at their dad.”

The unfortunate thing about what happened that afternoon is all of the collateral damage that is occurring. Our county is dividing. Respect and decorum has been discarded, friendships ended and relationships affected.

Those that attended the event, or were able to view one of the videos posted online, expressed feeling “sad, disappointed, embarrassed, ashamed and appalled” of the behavior they witnessed, with comments about the lynch mob that was on a witch hunt, spewing hate and venom.

The behavior of Joe supporters was also described as: “bullying, disrespectful, hateful, ill-mannered, condescending, rude, childish, revolting and gross.”

The one person that was notably absent was the candidate himself. According to his supporters, Joe was at work during the forum and was advised by his attorney to not attend. That’s disappointing to me because he may have been able to provide some clarity and credibility to some of the statements made by his supporters. At the very least, he could have prevented much of the discourse that afternoon by just asking his supporters to stand down.

His absence, and the fact that he has done nothing to condemn the behavior of his supporters since the forum, speaks volumes to me. It demonstrates his willingness to have others represent him and his inability to handle opposition.

Although I feel we should not judge Joe by the actions of his supporters, he has done nothing publicly to distance himself from the fracas, which indicates he is complicit in allowing them to engage in dirty politics on his behalf.


Georgie Kulczyk

Glasgow, Mont.


Reader Comments(0)

Rendered 05/16/2024 13:39