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Facebook Face-Off

March 3rd, 2011 No comments

In today’s 365gay.com column, I look at the new relationship statuses that Facebook allows, and wonder about the divide between our legal, social, and political selves.

“It’s complicated.”

Categories: 365gay column Tags: ,

McCance Does Unique “It Gets Better” Video

October 29th, 2010 No comments

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.

Who Should Be Procreating?

October 27th, 2010 No comments

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 thisĀ  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?

Article on BP Compensation Fund

July 22nd, 2010 No comments

Over on Slate, I have an article today on the BP compensation fund, administered by Ken Feinberg (he of 9/11 Compensation Fund and Executive Compensation overseer fame). I explore how the law that Feinberg says he’ll rely on actually isn’t good for most claimants, but that I expect him to compensate most of them anyway. I’m a fan of his, but I hope this isn’t a “puff piece.”

A shameless plea: If you read it and like it, please “like” it by sharing to Facebook. It matters how well the piece is received.