No, Seriously. Tell Us How You Really Feel.

Online reactions to the McKinney video featuring Officer David Eric Casebolt’s debut match on national television versus the 15 year old jobber girl mainly broke…  Excuse me?  Wait, this video is from real life, not an episode of “Attitude Era” WWE Raw sports entertainment?  Seriously?

Online reaction to the McKinney video featuring Officer… This isn’t a clip from a movie about segregation in the deep south during the sixties?  This story actually happened in the real world?  Damn, that’s depressing.

Online reaction to the McKinney video…. blah blah blah, you’ve all seen the video, and if you’ve been paying any attention to the response you know it breaks down into those who think the police acted reasonably and those who seriously can not fucking believe anyone thinks the police acted reasonably.  As with any similar case, many of those defending the police use multiple variations of “I’m not a racist,…but,” and many regrettable social media posts are created, destined to live forever online no matter how soon after the delete command is given.  What makes this latest entry into the latter category so interesting is that she sounds like she was totally aware of just how offensive people were going to find her post before making the post.

wow                          (Credit: KCBD-TV)  (Thanks to Salon which is where I found the pic.)

I mean,she closes out her post by acknowledging the backlash the post is going to cause.  What the hell was she thinking?  Was she expecting everyone on her feed to push back from the keyboard, pause for a moment, and then break out into a slow clap in her honor, overwhelmed to the point of tears by her bravery as she stood up to the liberal media and the P.C. thought police by simply writing what all her friends (yes* they are all white, but not because she’s a racist, it is only due to her only being around white people to befriend! Totes not her fault!) were already thinking anyway, and then hitting “post?”  And that anyone she offended would be drowned out by the sea of people who, once given courage by her Martin Luther King-like example, would rise up, rushing to hit the “like” button on her post and add their own comment, preferably something like “Exactly what I was thinking, Karen!”, “What a breathtakingly eloquent way of posting that genius opinion, Karen!”, or “Women who express views similar to Karen’s who have the courage to hit “post” like Karen are hot, just not quite as hot as Karen who turns me on to an insane point.”

Was this just another case in the long line of poor social media judgement cases?  Was it career suicide?  An attempt to become Sean Hannity’s latest Culture War Warrior?  As an elementary school teacher, you knew she was fired once this hit the media.  (I mean, do anything even semi-controversial online as a teacher and see how long you stay employed.)  People are invariably going to come to her defense now using a poor understanding of the First Amendment just as they defended Donald Sterling.  (Sorry people.  Is the government at her door arresting her for her speech?  Ordering her never to say it again?  Censoring her post?  Blocking access?  No?  First Amendment saved!)  I will admit that I am personally a bit put off by a person losing their job over something they posted on Facebook, especially as someone who makes a habit of posting semi-controversial material fairly regularly.  But, that being said, in this case the profession in question is “teacher to nine year olds,” which does have a different set of standards than your average manufacturing job.  At the minimum, Karen Fitzgibbons displayed a stunning lack of good judgement, a characteristic that is quite desirable in teachers.  Her “apology” does nothing to earn her any sympathy either:

First, to anyone, of any race, that I have offended, I sincerely apologize. That was not my intent. I let my emotions get the best of me, and instead of taking a deep breath, vented in an inappropriate way. I am truly sorry……….

 I can, and will, use this situation as a real world example of how emotions and words can cause hurt to others. I am ashamed of my post. As I look back and reflect, I see how hurtful those words sounded. It is my hope that my sincere apology will be accepted.

Is that indeed your hope?

It almost never fails that in the aftermath of an incident such as this one, the person in question seems legitimately shocked that their sincere “not-ology” isn’t enough to make it all go away, and I think this case perfectly illustrates the reason why.  Karen, in this example, is making a very sincere apology, and I am not being sarcastic there.  The very fact of her sincerity can often lead to indignation when her apology is greeted with many rolling eyes.  “Dammit, what do these people want, I’m trying to apologize.  Maybe race wouldn’t be such an issue if some people didn’t hold onto grudges so long.”  Which just feeds back into her preconceived notions about the differences between her people and their people, resulting in the prejudice being reinforced rather than a lesson being learned.  Why?

Because she is apologizing for the wrong thing entirely, either intentionally due to unwillingness to change the underlying belief, or unintentionally for some arcane reason.  She isn’t apologizing for thinking that maybe segregation is a good idea that needs to return, she’s apologizing for letting us know that she is thinking that maybe segregation is a good idea that needs to return.  She’s apologizing for the action, not the underlying opinion that caused the action.  Yes the post is racist as all hell and she should apologize for making it, but much more offensive is the actual thoughts (if you can call them that) contained in her post.  You know, the opinion that black people are all high school flunk outs with absentee parents who need to be kept separate to protect the innocent whites?  The thought that returning to the days of forced segregation may be an idea worth thinking about again?

Seriously, we know you are sorry you made the post and offended people.  You lost your damn job, of course you are sorry, just as I am sure the officer in question is quite sorry he decided to go all MMA takedown on a bikini clad teenager.  After putting that much foot in mouth, no apology is going to make everything go back to normal.  The box done been opened.  Can’t just shove it all back inside, close the lid and pretend.  But just once I would like to see an apology like this, which wouldn’t make it all better but would at least be apologizing for the right thing:

Dear World,

Recently I posted a picture and made a comment that exposed the fact that I hold some pretty archaic views on race and that I am guilty of joining into a “us versus them” cultural narrative that is poisonous to improved racial harmony.  During my previous life these ideas were introduced to me and they took hold as part of my worldview, through forces working both conscious and unconscious.  My recent post served to reveal to the world that I had these constructs on race as part of what made me who I was.  And after seeing the responses flooding in to my inbox, and realizing the possible real world effects my post could have on my life, it is very tempting to be sorry only that I let people see that side of me, that my mistake was in hitting “post,” and not in the very ideas that caused me to consider segregation as a possible solution for modern day race relations.  I wish to apologize to everyone, not for making the post I made, for it shown the light of day on this dark part of my mind.  I wish to apologize for holding such hurtful and bigoted beliefs in the first place, and have decided to work to change this fault in my worldview through education, introspection, and conscious effort.  I hope you all can eventually forgive my ignorance as I strive to become a better person and to truly see all people as my brothers and sisters, regardless of accidents of birth such as color, religion, and social class.

Just once.  Seriously, it isn’t hard.  It probably wouldn’t have saved her job, but it would at least show that she realized the real problem isn’t the world finding out that she’s a racist, its being a racist in the first place.

* Just wanted to point out that I have absolutely no idea what the make up of Karen’s Facebook, or real life for that matter, friends list looks like.  It was an assumption made to make the joke work.  Just saving myself the angry “Just so you know, Karen has three people of African American heritage among the 176 people on her Facebook friends list.  You need to double check your facts before unfairly slandering people” replies.

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