Magness Lake, in Heber Springs, is a magnet for swans
The way former Midland School Board vice president Clint McCance filled that intoxicating little window at the top of his Facebook page — the one that urges users to reveal What's On Your Mind? — is pretty much indefensible, except maybe by the flintiest of homophobes and religious zealots.
For those who never read what McCance wrote but despised him for what they heard he said, or never read it and defended him as a warrior of Christ anyway (and there were plenty of both), his comments appear below, taken from the screenshot captured in October by his Facebook friend and fellow Midland High School alum Anthony Turner. Turner eventually forwarded those screenshots to gay and lesbian advocacy groups and the media. They were later broadcast around the world.
McCance, apparently upset that some had suggested people wear purple to honor 11 gay kids from all across the nation who committed suicide in September of that year after being bullied at school, originally posted: "Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers committed suicide. 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 thereselves because of their sin. REALLY PEOPLE."
Later, after a Facebook friend chided him for saying what he did, McCance came back with: "No because being a fag doesnt give you the right to ruin the rest of our lives. If you get easily offended by being called a fag then dont tell anyone you are a fag. Keep that shit to yourself. I dont care how people decide to live their lives. They dont bother me if they keep it to thereselves. It pisses me off though that we make a special purple fag day for them. I like that fags cant procreate. I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other aids and die. If you arent against it, you might as well be for it."
Later still, after the same poster berated McCance, asking him what he would think if someone talked about one of his children that way, McCance posted this: "I would disown my kids if they were gay. They will not be welcome at my home or in my vicinity. I will absolutely run them off. Of course my kids will know better. My kids will have solid christian beliefs. See it infects everyone."
Given the circumstances — such a hateful statement, from a school official, said in response to an effort to honor young men who were literally bullied to death by peers spouting just that kind of speech — it's easy to see why the smelly breeze of Clint McCance's comments soon blew itself into a hurricane. Within a few days, a comment that might have been ignored only a few years before had focused the bright light of worldwide attention down on McCance and his town. This included an Oct. 26 story on the website of the gay and lesbian magazine The Advocate that drew so much traffic it reportedly shut their servers down, and a day-long picket in Pleasant Plains, where Midland School District is located. Though he remained frustratingly silent in the early days of the controversy, McCance eventually made an apology of sorts on CNN, and formally resigned on Halloween, with his resignation accepted by the school board the next day.
The scars of that kind of business tend to linger, though, both in the hearts of those who felt old wounds opened by McCance's venom, and those who feel like outsiders came to Pleasant Plains to force their un-Christian values on the town. While many of the protestors there that day see the whole incident as an enlightening moment, maybe even a kind of turning point, nearly everyone from Pleasant Plains we talked to — from school administrators to townsfolk to preachers to students — say that it has little to teach, little to say about the town, and is best forgotten.
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