We have a new entry in the sadly growing field of “elected or appointed officials who say terribly racist things via social media.” This one comes to us courtesy of Nebraska, and specifically Pat McPherson, who is a member of the Nebraska Board of Education. According to published reports, McPherson’s blog, Objective Conservative, repeatedly referred to President Obama as a “half-breed.” This, unfortunately, is one of the many racist and homophobic pieces of content that the blog published. It also:
- Uploaded doctored pictures of an obese Michelle Obama.
- Attacked the “homosexualization” of the boy scouts.
- Attacked the government for “creating special classes for gays, lesbians, transgenders, cross-dressers, aka., queers and perverts.”
- Compared gay marriage to bestiality.
- Made birther jokes.
In response, McPherson said that he didn’t make any of the offensive posts, but was only the owner of the blog. In a blog entry Monday, McPherson said:
“Upon viewing that submission, I have taken action to have it removed and will monitor future submissions by contributors in a much more diligent manner. Unfortunately, I have not always had time to read all submissions by other contributors and I apologize for that. I strongly disavow the racist tones evident in the piece and again will take appropriate action to assure such inappropriate content is not posted in the future by that contributor or any other.”
The blog has since been removed:
To their credit, the Nebraska Board of Education is not taking this lying down. In a 6-2 vote, the board called for McPherson to step down. Additionally, it is now in the process of reviewing its policies to determine if “board members should be held to the same ethical standards as teachers.” Nebraska Governor Pat Ricketts (R) also condemned the remarks, though he stopped short of calling for McPherson to resign, saying:
“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.”
Other elected officials are also calling on McPherson to stop down; Omaha City Council passed a resolution calling for McPherson’s resignation. However, if McPherson does not resign, he’s in office until the end of his term: there is no recall for his office.
The fact that you should avoid being racist and anti-homophobic on social media is obvious. However, two additional points:
- Elected officials are held to higher standards when it comes to social media content that they control. Don’t upload things that are clearly so deeply offensive!
- Related: If a blog or social media platform is in your name and content is uploaded to the blog, it will be considered to be “yours” regardless of if you actually authored it. McPherson claimed that he never wrote the offensive words, but merely failed to edit them appropriately. This may very well be the case, but it’s irrelevant – he ran the blog, it’s in his name, and as such, he bears the full responsibility of its content.