With just 34 words twisted together in cruel and bitter intent, Alabama State Rep. Patricia Todd – our first openly gay lawmaker and a professional human rights activist – has shown us everything that’s wrong with politics, journalism and the awful thing called Twitter.
Here’s what Todd tweeted Tuesday night:
Folks, decent people just don’t do this.
Todd should be utterly ashamed of herself. She, of all people, should know that the club she just wielded is dripping wet with hatred and bigotry and evil. She ought to never have picked it up, but now that she has, its stink and stain are on her hands.
The journalists across the state who immediately began spreading the rumor should be ashamed of themselves, too. They, of all people, should know better than to report something so unsubstantiated. They should have all done what I wanted to do when I saw the tweet – ignore it. Alas, they didn’t, so here we are, however regrettably.
And the people who gleefully retweeted or “loved” Todd’s tweet should also be ashamed of themselves. The following bit is just for them: Next time you complain about how parts of our society have become so mean, take a look in the mirror and you’ll see who’s partly to blame.
Again, decent people don’t do this. They don’t spread it. And they don’t cheer it.
Even though she didn’t need to, Gov. Kay Ivey’s campaign was quick to respond.
“This is a disgusting lie being pushed by a paid liberal political hack,” a campaign spokesperson told me last night. “There is absolutely no truth to it.”
If good old-fashioned shame still helped people remain somewhat civilized, here’s what should happen next:
— Todd should immediately apologize to Ivey, personally.
— If she doesn’t, the Democrat Party of Alabama should demand she does so.
— Journalists in the state should take some time to examine their policies and standards. Simply because someone says something, even if that person holds some high office, doesn’t mean it should be amplified so quickly, especially without evidence or even any serious attempt to gather evidence. This isn’t why any of us got into this business, at least I hope not.
— And some of us just need to get the heck off of Twitter. It’s unhealthy. The pathway from a random thought to worldwide publication has become dangerously short, and some people obviously cannot handle the responsibility. We used to have barriers that actually helped us be more prudent in what we said, and the delay helped tame our rash nature. It used to require effort to make such a claim, and the effort helped separate the meaningful from the meaningless. Now, nothing. Every hateful or moronic utterance is treated equally. (By the way, why hasn’t Twitter suspended Todd for bullying?)
Thankfully, the silver lining was that there were a few people who responded to Todd’s tweet correctly:
Really? You want someone outed for political points? Heck, I am a South Ala Dem and you make me want to fund your opponent. Cruelty is not progressive it’s just mean!
— Maria Dixon Hall (@mariadixon) May 16, 2018
Not a constructive statement by any measure. Disappointing.
— TREYLANE (@treylane) May 16, 2018
what a disgusting, hypocritical person you have to be to advocating outing a gay person against their will
— Orcam (@0rcam) May 16, 2018
Ivey is a nice lady. Sure, she’s in politics, and as they say, it ain’t “beanbag.” But she deserves better, much better than this. Anyone does.
If Todd isn’t ashamed.
If the media isn’t ashamed.
And if those who cheered them on aren’t ashamed.
Then I’ve got enough to go around.
Because this morning, I’m pretty ashamed of all of them.