Tomorrow, I’m to be the guest for the first full hour of the Dave Scott Show. It’s available, live at 1 pm EST and via podcast thereafter, at this web address: http://thedavescottshow.wordpress.com/
I’ll be talking about marriage equality, with an emphasis on the recent development in the Defense of Marriage Act cases, and probably lots more of interest to everyone, whether in the LGBT community or not: DADT repeal; the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, state and federal responses to bullying, and who knows what else.
People are complex, and assume different identities depending on whom they’re interacting with.
I’d thought I’d start with that obvious statement to bring context to my take on Clint McCance’s clear, direct, and total apology for his hateful Facebook posting, in which he celebrated the violent death of gay youth. Watch the linked video to his interview with Anderson Cooper, and I think you’ll agree — based on tone of voice and body language — that the apology is sincere, and thorough. Here’s a quote that captures the essence of it:
“I would never support suicide for any kids,” he said. “I don’t support bullying of any kids. I’d like to extend apologies to those families that have lost children, for all those children who feel that suicide is the only way out, especially for the five families who have already lost children,” he said, referring to a rash of recent suicides by gay teens. “I brought more hurt on them… they didn’t deserve that and I do feel genuinely bad for them.”
Of course, it doesn’t explain why he uttered these comments in the first place. His hateful spigot gushed some of the nastiest, most evil stuff I’ve ever read. (It’s reproduced here.) And David Mixner’s right in saying that the effects don’t vanish just because an apology has issued:
[T]heir venom has been poured into the public dialogue and they have created fear and given other less stable people (if that is possible) the permission to hate and even incite violence.
Mixner, though, also thinks that the apology was insincere. Having seen it, I don’t agree. But how can one person be so toxic, and then so abject in apology? Sure, there’s a self-serving element to it: McCance still has to live in the community.
But it’s conveniently simplistic to think that the contrition that’s in evidence here is purely an act. Like most of us, McCance likely behaves in different ways when with different audiences. For whatever reason, Facebook was for him a place to vent the darkest side of who he is. Some people really don’t fully appreciate that the medium isn’t a diary, or even a closed-circuit exchange with some close friends. (I’m guessing McCance gets that, now.)
He’s also a person with a family of his own, and it seemed clear to me that he’d be appalled to think that his kids would have this kind of hate-mongerer as a parent. Like few others, McCance has been forced, in the most public way, to manage the cognitive dissonance between two aspects of his being. Perhaps he’ll now be able to exorcise the part of him that could write such awful stuff. We should all hope so, and encourage this kind of positive step rather than clucking cynically at it.
Of course I’m not excusing any of this, nor am I an apologist for McCance. Indeed, I could barely believe what I was reading in the Facebook post. Nor can we disregard what Mixner says about the environment such statements create. But the walk-back helps to create a healing environment of its own. A great opportunity will have been lost if the Midland school district, and others, don’t use this as a way to counter the relentless bullying that’s belatedly entered the mainstream public dialogue.
It does get better, sometimes even within one soul.
Probably not Clint McCance, school board member at Midland School District in Arkansas. He spewed some bile on his Facebook page:
“Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers committed suicide. The only way I’m wearin’ it for them is if they all commit suicide,” McCance said, in one of the most ugly outbursts in recent memory. “I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed themselves because of their sin.”
“Being a fag doesn’t give you the right to ruin the rest of our lives. If you get easily offended by being called a fag then don’t tell anyone you are a fag. Keep that shit to yourself,” McCance wrote. “It pisses me off though that we make a special purple fag day for them. I like that fags cant procreate. I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other aids and die.”
Classy. I don’t know anything about the Midland School District, but I can’t imagine he’ll be on the board long after this diatribe. (There’s an on-line petition calling for his ouster, but is it really needed?)
Did he not know that Facebook postings can go viral in a snap, and are forever? Although the Facebook posting’s been taken, the “screen grab” lives on and appears on Joe.My.God.’s site. In addition to the language quoted above, the posting contains this example of fine writing: “They don’t bother me if they keep it to thereselves.”
Never mind the resignation issue. What does it say about the educational standard in Midland, Arkansas, that a man who can type out this kind of grammatical barbarity was on the school board in the first place?
The Manchester Union-Leader has long positioned itself on the far right of American journalism. Nonetheless, I was startled to read this statement from the paper’s publisher, Joseph W. McQuaid:
This newspaper has never published wedding or engagement announcements from homosexual couples. It would be hypocritical of us to do so, given our belief that marriage is and needs to remain a social and civil structure between men and women, and our opposition to the recent state law legalizing gay marriage.
That law was not subject to public referendum and the governor (John Lynch) who signed it was elected after telling voters that he was opposed to gay marriage. Indeed, in no state where the public has been allowed a direct vote on the subject has gay marriage prevailed.
We are not “anti-gay.” We are for marriage remaining the important man-woman institution it has always been.
While the law sanctions gay marriage, it neither demands that churches perform them or that our First Amendment right to choose what we print be suspended. In accordance with that right, we continue our longstanding policy of printing letters to the editor from New Hampshire citizens, whether or not they agree with us.”
McQuaid is of course correct about the paper’s First Amendment rights, and it doesn’t appear that the state’s anti-discrimination law applies here. (He needs a quick refresher on representative democracy, though.) But why is he doing this? Is he concerned about losing subscribers if the Union Leader dared publish wedding announcements for same-sex couples? Does the law so offend his sense of justice and the natural order of things that he’s willing to take this drastic step? Some combination of the two?
I don’t know, and I really don’t care. What I do know is that McQuaid’s grown offspring should be concerned about the man they’re allowing to spend time with their kids. In this piece of home-spun treacle, McQuaid acts as though he’s never spent time with kids before. Maybe he hasn’t (that’s what wives are for, perhaps), and his grandsons — who will grow up in a world where LGBT folks are increasingly recognized as citizens and as members of the human community — are ill-served by spending much time with such a homophobe. (Aside: the protesting statement that the paper isn’t “‘anti-gay,'” with the term itself enclosed in ironic quotes, suggests that McQuaid and his paper think there’s no such thing as a homophobe.)
[Update: I commented on McQuaid’s piece this morning, but the paper didn’t run it, even though it complies with all of their guidelines. The publisher, despite his comments to the contrary in the piece I referenced, apparently isn’t interested in publishing critical comments.]
At least this position should provide comfort to people like Amy Wax. Participating in a same-sex marriage debate on the Federalist Society’s webpage, the Penn law professor ended her list of objections by writing:
Finally (and this is in some ways the most important concern for me, as a parent), legalizing homosexual marriage will of course create pressure to “normalize” those relationships in all contexts. (emphasis added)
Don’t worry, Prof. Wax. McQuaid and his entire paper have resisted. You can, too! While you’re doing so, please explain — to your kids, “as a parent” — why my relationship and family, which includes twin daughters adopted from right here in Philadelphia, is less worthy of respect and legal recognition than yours.
I’m tired of this, and it’s well past time to call these apparently moderate conservatives on the connection between their position and the horrendous treatment of LGBT youth. After David and I watched Obama’s effective anti-gay bullying video, he immediately asked the obvious, rhetorical question:
Does this mean we can get married now?
No. No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t mean that the President supports marriage equality, either. He continues to oppose it.
There’s a danger in drawing a clear, straight line from opposition to equality in, say, the military or marriage contexts and the enabling of bullying against our kids. But it’s equally simplistic to pretend that the cultural and legal background in which kids grow up doesn’t have any effect on how we — adults and children alike — treat each other, either. (In this piece, Evan Wolfson eviscerates Maggie Gallagher for her willful refusal to connect any of these dots.)
I’m going to close with (of all people) Sarah Silverman, in an effective primal scream against the anti-gay forces: