You know, ever since I started blogging “professionally”, writing for free really lost some of its luster. I haven’t written on this blog in well over a year. When I have an audience of tens of thousands wanting to hear me talk about World of Warcraft, its hard to put efforts into writing things that hardly anyone will read. Especially when I still want it to be well-edited and interesting. One of the things I learned quickly while blogging for Project Lore was to know your audience. A large portion of the Project Lore audience was very young and many of them non-native English speakers, so my post about being sure to use proper grammar and spelling when communicating in games online to show your intelligence and find people to play with didn’t go over so well. It should be no surprise that I thought it would be a great idea to stay out of any political statements while writing, as my work had nothing to do with politics. There was a post or two detailing some slightly politically charged things, like gay characters in the game, LGBT-friendly guilds holding pride parades, and other notable events, but it was rare and I made an effort to be objective and journalistic.
In keeping up with the latest WoW news, I became a fan of the machinima creator Oxhorn. He makes great movies that are very popular, but I started to notice a political message to them. It was quite offputting; it included stuff such as the murder of an “elf” from the ACLU, murder of “hippies”, and promotion of faux racial discrimination. It was not a huge surprise that when I “became a fan” of his on Facebook that I started to see some very right-wing stuff. His movies got more politically direct, and I stopped following and promoting his stuff soon after. My job was to report on news pertinent to the game, and this guy was going way overboard in pursuing a personal political agenda. As I gained followers, there were all sorts of privacy concerns that arose in my mind. I wasn’t too concerned about my personal information, but I wanted people who followed me for WoW insight to do so because I gave good information, not because they agreed with me in some other area. Its pretty easy to segregate it when I used a handle besides my real name for the majority of the work that I did, but that started to blur. Its a difficult situation to handle; I consider myself to be very politically charged, but I don’t want people who like my video game work to start disliking it because they looked for other things I do and find that they disagree with me.
The same sort of situation has been crossing my mind with Facebook. I traditionally try not to post political statements on there, as I like having a diverse set of friends and don’t want to scare off people I meet just because we might disagree on some points. Staying ignorant to the politics of your coworkers, family, and some friends can be highly beneficial to maintaining a good relationship with them if you are the type to be prone to debate. My close friends typically tend to be quite liberal like myself, but much of my family and a few of my friends are quite conservative. Regardless, I don’t always shy away from occasionally “becoming a fan” of a politician with whom I strongly agree or other minor things of that sort. I became a fan of Craig Lowe, a candidate for mayor of Gainesville, and it allowed me to keep up to date with his campaign and the election. I happened to see a curious status update from one of my friends. I don’t know her very well; I’ve run into her a few times and chatted with her once or twice, and we share a few friends and frequent some of the same places, so we ended up Facebook friends. Her status said:
[removed] is not very happy with Mr. Craig Lowe. He’s trying to pull an Obama. Poor form, poor form.
I had assumed she was of a liberal leaning and Mr. Lowe had flip-flopped on an issue or something. I inquired with a simple “what” and she responded:
He’s pulling the gay card just as bad as Obama pulled the race card. It’s old.
I didn’t really know any of the details there and probably should have been tipped off that there was a disagreement and should have stopped there, but since I really like Craig Lowe and was curious about her thoughts, I responded:
oic. well, I feel like the gay card is played much less than the race card and has some validity.
Which got this response, with a follow up from one of her friends:
I don’t think it’s played less, though it is usually less obnoxious. My problem with Craig Lowe is that he is trying to demonize Don Marsh & say that he has been gay bashing him when Don has not once addressed Mr. Lowe’s sexuality during the campaign, as it really has nothing to do with his politics. He’s trying to get last minute votes the cheap & easy way. It’s pretty pathetic.
It still seemed like a casual conversation between just me and my friend, so I followed up with:
i don’t like to talk politics, especially with people I don’t know, but I disagree with the way Marsh is portraying Lowe. I can’t find any record of Lowe claiming “gay-bashing” by Marsh, but I can find records of Marsh wanting to “fix the transgender bathroom ordinance” and be outspoken about that criticism and not against things like the “no-homo mayor” signs.
The ordinance referred to here and later is charter amendment one, which was a non-discrimination act for all LGBT people for housing and workplace protections. It was commonly portrayed by its opposition as allowing men to go into women’s bathrooms. After posting that message, I almost deleted it, but I was still assuming the person I was writing to and her friends largely agreed with those sentiments, so I left it. There were a number of responses, the first two by some of her friends:
what the hell does that have to do with lowe? is he transgender? do you think gay = transgender?—–By the way Timothy, Don called that church the very next morning and asked them to pull the sign as it did not represent his views and he didn’t want it associated with his campain. That church didn’t pull the sign. They just crossed out the word “Mayor”.
Then by the person who originally started the discussion:
I don’t like talking politics either.. But it isn’t simply a matter of politics to me. This is someone I’ve known for roughly 15 years of my life, I love him & his family. I won’t tolerate him being accused of being something that I know for a FACT he is not. Don is not a hateful person or a crooked politician, he is a genuine, hardworking, decent person – something people don’t know how to even process when it comes to politicians. This week Don went door to door in neighbourhoods collecting & reaffirming support in the community. After Don’s people went through, Lowe’s people went behind him telling his supporters that he has been “gay-bashing” all over town & a bunch of other crap just to try to get people to switch their vote. Which is crap. It would have been everywhere if Don had made a single offensive comment, hello Gainesville Sun, right? & in regards to the “no-homo mayor” signs, Don called the “pastor” of Dove & told him that he didn’t approve of the offensive signs asked him to take them down. Don cannot be blamed for what that lunatic & his “church” spew. They’re insane. Lowe’s sexuality has nothing to do with Don’s campaign, simply put. He’s said it publicly but again & again Lowe keeps harping on it. It’s cheap. He needs to stick to the issues, not focus on himself. That’s not what it’s about. He is not Harvey Milk.
There are a few things I disagree with in that sentiment, but I understood where she was coming from now. I did a little searching and found the relevant post on Don Marsh’s blog. I tried to find other sources on the matter to see how Lowe addresses Marsh, but to no avail. Lowe’s website doesn’t mention anything along these lines, and no newspapers or even blogs mentioned sexuality as an issue. Don Marsh, as I had said earlier, vowed to “fix the transgender bathroom ordinance” and told the HRC that Lowe would represent their interests better, opting out of responding to specific questions. Its clear that Lowe is the more pro-LGBT candidate between the two. It didn’t appear as if Marsh was staunchly anti-LGBT, but he was very silent on the matter, and there are a number of videos online and local crazies supporting him simply because the opposing candidate is gay. The fact that he hasn’t much denounced them, remained largely silent on LGBT issues, and opposes the non-discrimination ordinance were all negative indicators for his view on LGBT citizens.
As for Lowe, I hadn’t seen anything demonizing Marsh while I had been following him, nor could I find anything when I looked. Additionally, the term “gay-bashing” is not a term that would be used by people who are sensitive to politically correct language when it comes to LGBT affairs: it specifically refers to extremely violent hate-inspired acts on LGBT individuals. It seemed highly unlikely that Lowe’s supporters would use that phrase, and it seemed equally unfair to portray Marsh as someone who dislikes Lowe for being gay just because he (probably) doesn’t support LGBT rights. It seemed like a game of telephone gone wrong that caused a misunderstanding.
…and he’s playing dumb, like the comment “i don’t know how i could possibly use my sexuality to an advantage.” in gville?! besides, a vote for lowe is a vote for the system and the status quo.
I don’t want to start a debate and highjack anyone’s status, but here are my views as a closing statement:-I think charter amendment one was absolutely essential, and an openly gay man supporting pro-trans legislation is very appealing to many people and as such it is fine to market the fact that he is gay. -The only report of Lowe’s supporters claiming “gay-bashing” is on Marsh’s blog. Marsh did not blog about denouncing the “no homo mayor” sign or otherwise publicly distance himself from these sorts of people, of whom there are many. In addition, the term “gay-bashing” itself is usually used in a violent context and I don’t think its likely that that specific term was used by Lowe’s supporters. These factors make me skeptic unless I see it documented further. I have no reason to think that both Marsh and Lowe are outstanding gentlemen, but I do think that the claim that Lowe has attacked Marsh for “gay-bashing” is unsupported by evidence.If anyone is interested in providing me with more information on this, please do so in a direct message.
If you want more information I suggest you ask the people in precinct 12—[removed], this pleases me more than you know…—You know Timothy, I never heard you publicly distance yourself from the KKK, or Hitler, or Satan himself for that matter, by your silence and using your logic I can only assume you are a racist, genocide-supporting, Satan worshipper. Good to know by not renouncing lunacy you somehow automatically support it. On second though, Lowe never publicly denounced hetero sexual intercourse, therefore, I think he is faking this whole gay thing any way. Using your logic, of course.
I was a little offended by that last one for multiple reasons. The point of that person’s statement was, of course, that not stating that you disagree with people doesn’t mean you agree with them. However, the specifics of this case, where a video made by a pastor saying “no homo mayor” was publicized nationally, it seems natural for Don Marsh to make a casual statement saying something along the lines of “I disagree with this pastor; I don’t judge Lowe for his lifestyle”, et cetera, when its being used heavily against him. I’m not saying that his silence on the matter means he agrees with this person, but its an easily solvable problem with a tremendous upshot: it dismisses the suspicion that he wants “no homo mayor” and makes it very clear that he is not “gay-bashing”.
Really not wanting to engage in a heated discussion on a new friends wall, but being personally addressed and vaguely attacked for inconsistency, I reiterated what I said earlier:
Again, if you want to have any further discussion with me, feel free to send me a message.
Too public and open for Timothy—–Timothy, you can’t just drop on to someone’s post, publicly mind you, say what you think, and expect others to only respond privately so that you cannot be exposed. That is ridiculous.
Well, that brings me full circle. This wasn’t supposed to be a public discussion on the merits of one candidate against another. It started as a casual conversation with a new friend and ended up involving 7 people. I suppose this is the intended viral nature of Facebook, but it goes to show that you should be careful of how you use it.
The people who disagreed with the way I made my arguments instead of my points themselves. My points weren’t even very political; I’m giving both Marsh and Lowe the benefit of the doubt of being respectful to each other. I’ve since apologized to my friend for starting this discussion, but unfortunately I am still too stubborn and proud to simply be called out for this kind of stuff. So, instead of continuing the situation on a friend’s wall on Facebook where only a couple hundred people can see it, I decided to bend to their will of making this “public and open” by posting it where the entire Internet can see it, and hopefully I get responses in a place where anyone can respond and its not displayed next to someone’s personal updates and statuses. I hope both the same people who were having this discussion with me, people who agree with me, and perhaps even Lowe and Marsh’s campaign supporters can comment on this!
Marsh made the following statement on his blog:
Gainesville is a diverse community with people from all over the world, and we have values that are sometimes merely different, and sometimes they conflict. It takes a selfless effort to respect those differences, and some people are better at that than others.
Members of the LGBT community are my neighbors. I will treat them the way I want to be treated. When we disagree, I will not make sexuality an issue. I hope I will receive the same courtesy.
I am not, nor have I ever been, a member of any group that espouses hatred of Jews, Muslims, Gays, or any other ethnic group. I believe that we are all made in the image of God. I also believe we are all imperfect images, in need of mercy and grace from the Almighty and one another.
Regarding Chad Smith’s report, I still think it’s a significant omission that it was not mentioned that I called Dove to have them remove the sign. Apparently, there is not yet enough distance between this mean little group and myself. I can’t live down things I haven’t done.
Its a completely fair statement.
Edit: When discussing charter amendment 1, I clearly meant to opposite it. It can be so confusing when a “no” vote is a “yes” for equality and vice versa.