And not a moment too soon
Clint McCance, vice president of the Midland School District in Pleasant Plains, Ark., told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Thursday night that he will resign his seat and is sorry that he wrote on his Facebook page that gay kids should kill themselves.
The story of his facebook antics on October 20th (Spirit Day: In memory of LGBT suicide victims) hit the gay blogs three days ago and hit mainstream media yesterday morning.
This elected school official, McCance can now be remembered for a hateful internet posting in which he suggested he will wear purple the day all the gay kids finally commit suicide. He followed that sentiment up later by announcing his pleasure in deaths of gay people due to AIDS, and as a closer stated that as a ‘father’ and a ‘Christian’ he would disown either of his two children and never see them again if they told him they were gay.
And while the education community of Arkansas denounced his tirade as offensive, they were each careful to note he spoke as a private citizen and thus was his actions were officially NMP (not my problem), and as you can then assume none of them initially called for his resignation.
No, that call came from someone outside the community of professional educators, CNN’s Anderson Cooper. Apparently his standard for professional educational conduct is slightly higher than the average school official.
When McCance showed up on AC360 to clear his name and apologize for using some inappropriate language and reveling in the deaths of five young men, Cooper took him to task as a member of a school board, and in the end McCance announced his resignation during the interview.
And before everyone rushes to bracket this character out as a nut, as an immature jerk, as a prankster, a zealot, whatever special category of NMP people we all hope to distance ourselves from maybe we need to take another look into the mirror.
How many people have you heard express this sort of knee jerk reactions to the gay community expressed here through a comment on the purple campaign? Maybe they didn’t post something like McCance did on facebook: “Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers killed themselves. The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. 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. REALLY PEOPLE.”
But how common is it for people to express their judgements and opinions about the lives and worth of LGBTQ people in your presence. I mean shoot in my state people are entitled to vote their opinions on my life nearly ever two years. So lets be realistic, people say things like this all the time, it’s just as McCance say’s in his sort of apology he chose to use the ‘wrong words’ not the wrong ideas.
And we know folks in the public eye like Tony Perkins thoughts ran right alongside McCance’s when he publicly stated pretty much the same thing in the wake of these suicides; and Maggie Gallagher used the same date and situation as McCance to publically post about the suicides as a tool to express the same anti-gay sentiment. These people get to have a mainstream platform because they have followings and they ‘represent’ a great number of families, and some form of Christianity, and you know things of the like. And they know better than to use the ‘wrong words’ in polite company.
So lets not be too quick to put McCance in a box and think, “Wow that guy had a real problem! I’m sure glad I don’t have to deal with people like that very often and thank goodness we got him and his ideas away from the school.” Because McCance isn’t some special case when it comes to the presumption that gay bashing is some sort of constitutional religious right. Or that school and in fact all government officials can publicly state their ‘Christian’ disdain, hate, or damnation against an entire student population and have that be considered a private opinion and a public right. And that every citizen has the right to vote on the civil rights of all gay people.
This is in fact the norm of public discourse at the present time. In fact these voices are frequently encourage and amplified to offer a ‘balance’ to the issue which is apparently the national question; Are gay people human, could we ever think of them as citizens or are they quite simply subhuman? Lets bring in the authorities to discuss the two sides.
Are we as a society really sure we want to honor the terms of that debate any longer?
Taking in the last few years of political discourse I’d say the vast majority of our leaders at every level think we should keep looking at the ‘two sides’ of this issue with regard to the humanity of the LGBTQ community, but the general populace seems closer than ever to moving to a new level in this discussion.
As was seen in the recent coverage of McCance, in places like Arkansas people seem to have moved beyond this ridiculous rhetoric and said as much over the past few days.
So I guess it must be close to time for the school leaders to catch up with the larger community and stand up for their LGBTQ youth as if they were humans whose lives were being threatened and who were being denied an education.
I’m ready to watch the moment that happens.
But don’t expect me to call it brave when the leadership finally appears on the back-end of the wave.
We queer educators have been out here all along…
Not waving but drowning.