- By Frank Cerabino Palm Beach Post Staff Writer
From: PBC Schools Office of Professional Standards
To: All school board members
Subject: Acceptable language during election night celebrations
It has come to our attention by way of a Facebook video that the recent campaign for the District 7 seat on the Palm Beach County School Board ended with the victor, Debra Robinson, repeatedly summing up her win with an expression that some deemed inappropriate.
We have reviewed the video at various speeds, and consulted with university linguistics professors and street rappers to gain a deeper understanding of what Dr. Robinson kept shouting when it was clear that she had defeated her challenger, Edwin Ferguson, by a margin of 14,927 to 9,817 votes — a spread of about 61 percent to 39 percent.
Because the school district lexicon is replete with acronyms for just about everything, our first assumption was that Robinson kept shouting that she had “whooped that Anticipated Statistical Spread.”
It’s conceivable that Robinson expected to win by a margin of, say, 55 percent to 45 percent, and was delighted to discover that she had performed better than the projected result. And that instead of saying the phrase, “Anticipated Statistical Spread,” she used the three-letter acronym.
However, we have received some information from our hip-hop field consultants that Robinson may have instead been using an expression that didn’t employ any acronyms, but instead referred to a body part that is commonly employed in song lyrics involving “shorties” or rivals being vanquished in either a physical, emotional or metaphorical sense.
(See attached Hype Man video of song “Whoop Dat A—,” featuring Smash.)
Here’s a sample of the relevant lyrics:
“‘Bout to whoop dat a—
“You goin’ down, baby, you goin’ down baby’
“Bout to whoop dat a—
“You better get ready, you better get ready.’”
While we feel certain that Dr. Robinson’s WDA moment did not intend to imply that she would or had physically assaulted her school board challenger’s posterior or other bodily regions, it is conceivable that she interpreted her victory margin as the electoral equivalent to said whooping.
Some have said that this may not be the sort of “I care” language the school district hopes to instill in its children.
But we note that Robinson never intended this video to be seen or heard by children, and that her outburst was during what she thought was a private moment with her inner circle of adult supporters.
She has since sent out a note of regret.
“I apologize for making distasteful comments at a victory party due to frustration, exhaustion and exhilaration,” she wrote. “I am not excusing them. I apologize. I am now turning my attention back to the children, staff and community of PBC School Board District 7.”
Her victory party comments also advocated hurting the business of a local AM radio station that she perceived was helping her challenger during the campaign. That is a separate issue.
For now, we are just considering guidance for future school board members in what is, or is not, appropriate to say in celebration after a victory on election night.
The central question is whether beating an opponent by a 22-point margin is big enough to be considered WDA worthy?
We conclude the answer to that question is “No.”
If Robinson’s victory against Ferguson qualifies as a WDA event, then what are we to call U.S. Rep Ted Deutch’s margin of victory in Palm Beach County for his primary win against Jeff Fandl? Deutch got a little over 91 percent of that vote.
By yelling about Ferguson’s metaphorical whooping, Robinson cheapened the language that would more deservedly be used by an exultant Ted Deutch.
Or to put it another way, if 22-point wins are in the WDA range, it leaves victors who win by 80 points to scramble for new expressions that are both untested and potentially rap unsuitable.
Deutch would have to resort to pumping his fist in the air and improving with shouts of “Flogged dat fella” or “Cudgeled dat cuz” or “Bludgeoned dat brah” when he really needs to be saying that he WDA.
For this reason alone, we recommend that all future school board members refrain from making celebratory utterances that over-sell their victories, even when they do better than the Anticipated Statistical Spread.