An apology for Arkansas | Arkansas Blog

Sunday, October 31, 2010

An apology for Arkansas

Posted By on Sun, Oct 31, 2010 at 7:20 AM

John Brummett this morning apologizes to the world for Clint McCance, the Midland School Board member whose anti-gay rant on Facebook became an international news story. He apologized on CNN and said he will resign, though he hasn't yet, so far as anyone knows. Brummett's point is that he should not be taken as a representative of Arkansas. But how much of Arkansas does he represent?

Brummett suggests, unrealistically I think, that since education is a state responsibility that there ought to be some formal mechanism for the state to step in in such egregious cases. I'm for greater state control of local districts, but this would be a steep mountain to climb legislatively. Also, one small clarification: It's not totally true, as John writes, that McCance does not work in the school. In the winsome way of small-town school districts, he regularly gets board-awarded work cleaning the district's carpets.

Brummett also hints Gov. Mike Beebe's office was behind Education Commissioner Tom Kimbrell's evolving position over the course of a day last week, from a disapproving statement in the morning to a welcome statement essentially urging McCance's resignation in the afternoon. Could be. But I'm still waiting for the first political candidate on Tuesday's ballot to stand up publicly and repudiate McCance's remarks and say resignation was the only possible cure for the situation and, furthermore, that gay people shouldn't be discriminated against in school, at work or anywhere else. Politicians' silence is not a reassuring statement about Arkansas, or at least about the Arkansas politician's perception of the Arkansas voter.

Would a candidate really be damaged by condemning a cheerleader for gay suicide? You wonder. Republican candidates' hope for a state legislative tsunami are based in part on stealth-financed mailers that play the anti-gay card (nice work, Clint Reed). Reed objects to a newspaper report that says gay marriage is among the issues being used in direct mail pieces attacking Democratic legislative candidates. That was an issue in some mailing in previous elections (for which he also disavows responsibility) but says they don't feature in this year's work. Taxes and such things as votes on popular election of the president are featured, he said.

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