Pat McPherson should have known what was written on his blog. Especially if what McPherson himself called “offensive”, was written more than once.
That being said, I take him at his word that he did not know about it, and does not now believe it was appropriate.
I don’t know McPherson personally, but those who do say that he is more likely to be a Martian than racist (though not a racist Martian).
That being said, whoever DID write “Half Breed” over and over is a dope. I can say, without hyperbole, that there are a zillion things about which you could criticize the current President without resorting to name-calling based on his racial background.
That is not to say THAT cannot be discussed. It was President Obama himself who said, “If I had a son, he’d look like Travon (Martin)”, as if the color of one’s skin is the most important factor. McPherson’s writer notes that if Obama was Republican, you can bet he would be criticized by some for not, essentially, being “black enough”. Heck Clarence Thomas and Condoleezza Rice get that.
But the writer then went too far by throwing around the term “Half Breed” — likely congratulating him or herself at coming up with it. Most would agree that it is a derogatory term and it doesn’t do anyone any good, or make a point, by using it.
This sort of issue has never come up on the Leavenworth St. blog.
Longtime readers know that we delete comments that we deem to be offensive or in bad taste. For instance, on a case by case basis, we delete comments that make personal attacks on a politician’s family. (We say case by case, because, for instance, in the situation of former Lt. Governor Lavon Heidemann, if someone is commenting about the situation with his sister, that is in the news, and you can’t exactly ignore the elephant in the room by leaving her out of the conversation.)
But for the record, in case we get any weird questions: No, Street Sweeper has never written for Pat McPherson’s blog. And everything that is written in a post is 100% reviewed by Street Sweeper before it is posted.
Though we won’t be surprised to hear that Vince Powers himself (you know, because the intern is off taking a “me day”) is scouring Leavenworth St. looking for “offensive” statements. We are pretty sure he will come up empty, though who knows what may offend Vince these days.
(By the way, it was awkward in the Channel 7 interview with Vince. Apparently a reporter was not there — only a camera man — so he spoke directly to the camera. And then he started yelling AT Pat McPherson and Governor Pete Ricketts, via the Channel 7 camera. It was more than a little professional-wrestling-esque.
“I’m Vince POWERS! You’re afraid of me McPherson! I’ll see YOU at the Battle Royal at the Civic Auditorium! POWWWWWWERSSSSS!!!”
Is this a free-speech issue — equivalent in some way to Charlie Hebdo — as KFAB’s Chris Baker put it? Eh, not exactly. Though it certainly is an interesting “thought experiment”.
On the one hand, if an “artist” puts a crucifix in a jar of urine liberals command us to congratulate him for his courage. And if you protest that or, heaven forbid, suggest that federal money should support it, you are a book-burning heretic. So if you use a derogatory term to make a political point — here, arguably, using the term “Half Breed” with mock sarcasm to show the other side’s hypocrisy — should that not be “protected”? Heck, if you had a “Bushitler” bumper sticker, you were a liberal HERO.
What if McPherson had instead come out and said, “Yeah I wrote it! And I was making the point that if the roles were switched, Democrats would be using that term! I was mocking THEM — not judging or defaming the President. It is called sophisticated writing, that I’m sure the likes of Vince Powers can’t understand!” (He would be yelling this into the camera, back at Vince, of course.)
What then? Can you even use political sarcasm these days? “OK for me, but not for thee“?
And then I suppose you could even ask, is the term “Half Breed” offensive? Heck, there was a popular Cher song (was Sonny involved?) with that title, that we would guess you could find on the XM 70’s station. Is it really a bad word? (Our guess: it’s probably not a word that dignified people throw around.) But what about the word “mulatto”? Or “mixed race”? We have no idea, frankly. You can’t say “Oriental” any more, but you can say “Asian”. But then you are referring to someone from Japan, Vietnam and India under the same “race”?
Did we just “offend” someone with that paragraph? We thought we were supposed to be having a “discussion” about race. Ah well.
Here is what we DO know: If your plan is to score political points every time the issue of race comes up, and scream that everyone is a racist — that is what Vince Powers called Pat McPherson — then you can bet there will never be a “discussion” about race. Who would bother?
As long as we have gone this far, look at the new movie “Selma” (which Glenn Beck loves, by the way). Apparently President Lyndon Johnson is depicted in it as the “bad guy”, when most accounts show that he was the opposite — one of the driving political forces behind desegregation. But hey, that doesn’t fit the story! And now how many millions of viewers who don’t bother with that will leave the theater figuring that Johnson was the evil racist in the movement?
For Powers, if Pat McPherson is NOT a racist, then that doesn’t make his rant as POWERful. So of course he yelps at Pat and calls for his resignation — and donate to our party and elect more Democrats!
Because for the likes of Powers, the ends justifies the means. If someone like McPherson gets labeled a racist, and the result is more liberals coming to power, then that smear is OK, right? If Johnson is now thought of as blocking the civil rights movement, but people appreciate Dr. King more, and more movie tickets are sold, then it’s all good, yeah? If people think the Ogallala Aquifer is a a giant underground ocean of tap water that will be befouled if a Canadian pees into it, but that means more money flows into Bold Nebraska’s coffers, that’s win-win, sure?
This thing with McPherson will end up being a big nothing. Except the Dems DID shut down a GOP blog, so you can bet there will be a mini-toast of chocolate martinis at their next soiree.
Good thing Leavenworth St. is still around, eh?
**UPDATE at 3:25pm 1/15/15**
And Governor Ricketts has thrown McPherson under the bus:
“While many Nebraskans disagree with our president on many issues, he is deserving of the same civility and respect we give one another. There is no room for bigotry. I am deeply disappointed and unequivocally condemn these comments,” said Ricketts.
“I respect the will of the people, but as additional information about the frequency of these bigoted comments on the blog has become available, it is clear that this controversy will hinder the State Board of Education from accomplishing its goals. Pat should tender his resignation and allow the Board to get back to work on its goal of improving achievement outcomes for all students.”
Not real sure what the difference is today.
We thought all of the comments were known when Ricketts made his first statement, but maybe not.
In any case, we suppose he doesn’t want to take the heat for all of this at this point.
Well, McPherson can continue to say,
1) “I didn’t know about the statements and disavow them now. Therefore I’m not resigning.”
2) “I SHOULD have known about them, but still disavow them, and will work harder next time, and I’m staying.”
3) “I still disavow them, but it has become a distraction, and I quit.”
Ball is in your court Pat.
**UPDATE at 6:25pm 1/15/15**
And Pat McPherson responds, choosing Door #1!
“Governor Ricketts has called for my resignation from the Nebraska State Board of Education. I am respectful of the Governor and understand his reasons for doing so.
I have not violated any statute or constitutional provision or any of the rules or regulations that pertain to my duties as a member of the state board of education.
I do not intend to resign. Doing so would be a tacit admission of the false accusations being made that I am a racist. I am not. It would also reward the partisan political efforts of the Nebraska Democratic Party as well as the efforts of the Nebraska State Education Association which spent $25,000 in support of my general election opponent. It would allow these entities to overturn the results of an election that they could not win.
I didn’t write and have disavowed the racist comment made on the blog. I am also respectful of the First Amendment rights of others short of yelling ‘Fire’ in a crowded theater.
I eagerly await the opportunity to work with my fellow board member as well as with Governor Ricketts in improving education for all Nebraska children. I will work earnestly to support the needs of parents and teachers as well. We have lots of challenges and work to do.
I appreciate the support of so many who have offered their support. There is no room for racism or partisanship in educating our children and I will prove my commitment to education over the term of my service.”
Our take on their back and forth?
Well, McPherson put Governor Ricketts in a bad position where Ricketts pretty much HAD to call for his resignation?
Well, look at it two ways:
1) Assume (for this argument) that McPherson is lying about his knowledge about what was written on his blog. McPherson himself said the statements were “offensive”. So if he in fact either knew about them when they were posted or wrote them himself — and he’s now lying about it — then he is telling Ricketts to call for his resignation and should himself resign. How would anyone know whether he is actually lying? No idea, but in the world of emails and all that, it is certainly possible that it could come out.
2) Assume (for this side of the argument) that McPherson is telling the God’s honest truth that he DID NOT know about the posts and that he absolutely disavows everything written in them and that he is absolutely NOT a racist.
Well, he still forces Ricketts’ hand. He is saying that on HIS blog, at least FIVE times, someone wrote something that he, McPherson, finds to be beyond the pale AND it is written as if it is the full position of the blog.
So in the question of “Stupid or Liar” he is claiming “Stupid”. And while you can’t ask someone who was just elected to resign for being stupid, you CAN call for their resignation when their past stupidity will seriously affect the job they were elected to do.
Arguably, now every decision McPherson makes will be clouded by the question of whether he either wrote or approved the thing that McPherson himself calls “offensive”. And because of his “stupidity”, the effectiveness of the entire Board of Education is called into question because of the cancer that he brought into it.
Those are the arguments.
Since there is no way to prove number one, the Governor has to go with number two, and make a statement. If it was just the one instance, he could have just sat back and ignored it. But after discovering the blog used the “offensive” term five different times, as the chief executive of the state he has to do something.
Does this mean Pat McPherson is a racist? Or that he can’t say something — maybe even something offensive if he wants to?
Heck, there is an argument he could have/should have gone the other way, and said, “Dang straight, I wrote it!” (Well, maybe not “dang straight…) And then followed it up with an argument of , why what he wrote is not racist, and all of the things he has done in his life that prove he isn’t a racist, etc. etc.
He probably still gets called a racist and people call for his resignation, but at least at that point he is arguing in the positive sense, instead of spending the rest of his political life apologizing.
And FWIW people we have communicated with say he is NOT a racist…but maybe does enjoy being a bit of a verbal bomb-thrower.
But as we noted above, what was written by either McPherson or someone else, is derogatory and whoever wrote it is a dope. And running for office with blog posts like that, means you’re going to be sunk.
And speaking of free speech and transparency, the Legislature’s Rules Committee voted unanimously to continue having secret votes for Committee Chairs.
And ALL the Republicans voted against open votes.
I guess that is “non-partisan” huh? If that floats your boat.
You can bet the Dems are happy about it.
This Saturday is the 9 year anniversary of Leavenworth St.
And we are going to tease this just a little longer to say that Coming Soon, there will be some changes here on Leavenworth St. and beyond.
We are still in the prep stage, but we will let you know our plans.
Or at least our plans for our plans.
We are looking forward to it.