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03/06/2008

McKinney, TX Update #2

by Jeremy Hooper

Picture 6-118So yesterday we updated you on some of the facts stemming from the the incident we're dealing with out of McKinney,TX. Well since a local reporter from the McKinney Courier-Gazette has today run a very irresponsible story on the matter, we must once again fill in readers with the TRUTH.

For those following this annoying matter, read further. For everyone else -- well, we don't at all blame you if you want to run away:

(1) The assistant to the superintendent for communications, Cody Cunningham, says in the Courier-Gazette article:

Our attorneys sent a letter to them immediately,” Cunningham said. “They’re basically accepting no responsibility. Often, these blogs will allow people to write anything and post anything they want and not accept responsibility for the damage it may cause.

Only problem? We have received no letter! We've received no contact from any attorney!

As for "accepting no repsonsiblty" -- well, we have been WHOLLY TRANSPARENT about every aspect of this matter. Here, we've even set up a site where you can read the entire saga fro yourself as it has played out. We have owned every pat of this! And in fact, we are the ones who made McKinney staffers aware of the situation, because we thought they'd see an interest in dealing with any potential homophobia within their ranks!

And as for those pesky bloggers and their irresponsibility -- NU-UH, they are not going to get away with that! This website is nothing if not responsible! What we posted was A COMMENT THAT WAS POSTED TO US!!!!! We only highlighted a comment that was made on OUT site!!! And then when finding that the supplied email address linked to a public school official, we wrote commentary on how misguided it is for a public school official to use a work email to make anti-gay comments (while acknowledging the possibility that Davis had been pranked). We're accepting FULL responsibility for every aspect of this situation. Mr. Cunningham's suppositions to the contrary are completely unwarranted!

(2) The same Cody Cunningham asserts with certainty that “Our technology department investigated the issue and they found nothing to determine that it came from any of our accounts or our computers. It did not come from his account or his computer.” But this is practically impossible. For one, the comment was made on a Sunday, so it would've been unlikely to come from a work computer. For another, pretty much all anyone would have to do is delete one email and wipe away the track. And for a third wrench in the claim -- they began denying that Dr. Davis made the comment within an hour or two of us contacting them! The time constraint alone wouldn't allow for a thorough "investigation."

It's fine for them to say that it seems unlikely Dr. Davis wrote the comment that was posted under his name, and if it is found to be a prank we will ABSOLUTELY correct the record. But the aggressive certainty that is being used to discredit this site is unfair and ENRAGING!

(3) Davis is quoted in the piece as saying that in concurrence with this alleged email prank, he has also been inundated with calls from financial reps, credit card companies, etc., which he uses to make it sound like someone is out there bullying him in general. That may be so. But again, the comment does not come across as the work of someone wanting to pull a prank. It's not an "I HATE FAGS!" type of comment, the likes of which would clearly hurt someone. It's a falsely compassionate condemnation of homosexuality through the lens of Biblical love. It just doesn't at all seem like a prank!

(4) The Courier-Gazette reporter says we have run "a picture of Davis that appears to have been taken from the district’s Web site." A very simple Google search should show this reporter that the photo is not alleged -- it's a screen cap from their site. But it's just easier to make it sound like we are making spurious claims. There seems to be a general tone being set in McKinney, TX, that we (and bloggers in general) are the ones who can't be trusted, which is quite laughable considering we've put all of the info out there as soon as we've recieved it.

(5) The reporter quotes this writer in her report. Only problem? She never called me. She never dug into the situation. She sent one email which, in 100% honesty, I had no clue was being used to file a report. It was extremely light, and the only place where she identified herself as a reporter was in her email signature. Here's what it said, along with my reply (her email in blue, our response above it in black):

(click for full size)
Picture 8-76

But in her piece she has pulled that quote in a very disingenuous way, so that it's not at all clear to what I'm referring! And again, she never once tried to contact me or suggested that such might be a good idea. Hell, she never even replied to my email! Apparently the McKinney ISD side of the story is much more important that the site's!

(6) And finally, the reporter concludes her article by saying:

"Cunningham said the McKinney Police Department is looking into the matter and that the district intends on taking legal action."

Legal action. Yes, that's right, they keep threatening us with "legal action" FOR HIGLIGHTING A COMMENT THAT WAS MADE TO OUR WEBSITE AND THEREFORE BECAME OUR PROPERTY!!!!!! This is UNREAL. And you know how the local police have gone about contacting us? They have emailed, demanding that we turn over IP information (with the accusatory email subject line, "Criminal Offense." Does that seem outside the lines of protocol to anyone else?

So thems be the facts. If they want to keep fueling this situation, we will keep putting it all out there in a transparent, full disclosure fashion. It's what we do. And we, lovers of both gays and the honest exchange of ideas, will never make an apology for highlighting the comment.

McKinney ISD administrator may be prank victim [Courier-Gazette]

**UPDATE: So that there is no confusion, let us say once again: The comment was made on a Sunday afternoon from a private home. We never said it was from anyone's work computer, only that we were given a work email address. So using the IP records of the McKinney ISD to try and verify/refute that the comment was made by Dr. Davis is a complete waste of time. The IP we have is a private address a short distance away from the McKinney ISD offices.

**UPDATE 3/8: The Dallas Morning News has run a much more fair and accurate portrayal of the situation, with all involved (including Cody Cunningham and the local investigator) making much more fair and valid statements. So thanks to all involved for that!!

That being said, there is one piece of information we want to address in the article. Once again, this line of logic is used:

McKinney school officials searched Dr. Davis' work computer and said they found no evidence that the posting came from him. They have asked Mr. Hooper to remove the original posting and the responses to it. He has declined to do so.

But once again, we have to remind all involved that the comment was made on a Sunday afternoon. Nobody has ever for a second claimed that he would have made the comment from his work computer, only that he made the comment with his work email address! Clearing his work computer is about as important as clearing the graphing calculator that he used in college!!

**UPDATE, 3/10: Ready for more intellectual dishonesty? Well the McKinney Courier-Gazette has removed all of the comments that were made on their article. That's suspicious considering that every single one was in support of this site! Fortunately, you can still see the Google Cache version of the story.

space gay-comment gay-G-A-Y-post gay-email gay-writer-jeremy-hooper


Your thoughts

I think it's all very, very insane. They can't do anything to you, they are just trying to scare you a bit. Petty.

Keep up the good work, if nothing else, they are hilarious with the "threats"

Posted by: Nick Watson | Mar 6, 2008 9:33:04 AM

Thanks, Nick. It's pretty disgusting the way they have implied I have done something criminal. In fact, the email I have received from the detective uses the subject "Criminal Offense"!

IN my naievete, I had thought the school district would want to know about potential homophobia within their ranks. However, from the very start it has been nothing but threas and intimidation against me!

Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 6, 2008 9:39:04 AM

Dear Jeremy,

Hang in there, kid - - my only comment is "From Texas, what ELSE would you expect!" Sorry, I know "we" are represented in Texas and I apologize to those folks - but the "Bush country" folks know no better - - including, I would say, their news reporters.

Posted by: Tom | Mar 6, 2008 9:45:55 AM

I lived in Dallas for many years. McKinney is a small city with a huge small-town complex. Mostly rednecks & holy rollers. Maybe they're concerned because they are the seat of Collin County, which now has its own LGBT community center & PAC, separate from Dallas. That means that the community has grown to be much more visible, much more "in your face" than McKinney is comfortable with. Too bad.

Keep up the good work, GAY! Don't let them give you any sh*T!

Posted by: Carolyn Rowley | Mar 6, 2008 9:56:11 AM

Thanks, Carolyn. The true irony here is that the intention of posting the comment was never to make the town, school district, or even Dr. Davis look bad. It was to foster understanding, and to let him and everyone know that we will not sit back and accept such hostility being posted to the site.

If he posted it, then our sought after goal would've been an apology, and for a promise to try and understand the LGBT community a little better. Not his termination. Not his embarrassment. Just a consciousness-raising realization.

If he really was pranked, then one would think he would have written right away and tried to explain the situation and clear his name. That's certainly what we would do, and even have done in similar situations. And when contacted, we would have likely complied. It's fairly easy to gauge sincerity in things like this. But he didn't do that. The handling of this has been nothing but intimidation from all side. And in fact, Davis himself has yet to actually write us and attempt and explanation!

Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 6, 2008 10:03:01 AM

I sent an email to sawhite author of newspaper article. Have you all???
Jeremy... Fighting Out Loud was effective in Ft. Lauderdale (see PHB's latest)
maybe you should enlist Waymon now.

Posted by: LMendoza MD | Mar 6, 2008 11:17:26 AM


That's the first thing I thought (referring to Davis' lack of contact).

If he didn't write the entry why didn't he just say so?

If he did write the entry, he must have known it was a public forum and it would be displayed for all to see, including the email address that he provided.

So what's his problem?

db

Posted by: dave b | Mar 6, 2008 12:11:08 PM

Here's what's weird about the purported Courier-Gazette article.

(1) The reporter doesn't say whether or not Dr. Davis's home computer (or a computer he may have been using on a Sunday) was checked. Nor is there any indication she *even asked* anyone about the status his home computer before publishing her story.

(2) The article makes it seem like you e-mailed her out of the blue rather than in response to her e-mail. Your e-mail seems rather disjointed when not read in conjuntion with her e-mail.

(3) Her article doesn't mention the strange e-mails you apparently received from a tech guy from the school district. All she had to do was check your website for the info.

It reads like a PR piece from the school district. What ever happened to good old fashioned investigative journalism?

Posted by: Jonas | Mar 6, 2008 2:17:05 PM

Jonas: With very few exceptions, every correspondence we have received from the general vicinity of McKinney,TX, has read like a PR piece that's skewed against us. From all channels, be they district staffers, reporters, or authorities, or tech people. It's unnerving.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 6, 2008 2:20:57 PM

And by "PR piece," we really mean "attempt at damage control," right? (Yeah, I know they're basically the same thing, but hey.)

Posted by: Jarred | Mar 6, 2008 2:35:11 PM

McKinney ISD needs to apologize for allowing its email system to be co-opted for the purpose of making embarassing statements in public - period.. done. The more they squirm and horse around like this, the worse they look. The PR office at McKinney ISD (should one exist) should know this is PR 101. What a fiasco.

Posted by: Larry | Mar 6, 2008 2:36:32 PM

Well, Larry, the person quoted multiple times in the article is a Communications staffer. One would think he would know better than making statements that can easily be challenged by fact.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 6, 2008 2:38:25 PM

Jeremy, this may be more direct email, but you can certainly post if you wish. I sent an
email to PHB as I wasn't sure if they were aware of this 'mess.' She said she wasn't and
will begin to publicize it.

Posted by: LMendoza MD | Mar 6, 2008 3:31:55 PM

Also, I got a nice email back from Stefanie White, she said they are aware of the 'Sunday' factor and are looking into it more fully.
I recommended to her that she also look into contacting GLSEN.

Posted by: LMendoza MD | Mar 6, 2008 4:04:53 PM

Honestly, LMendoza -- I don't really care to publicize this. I have nothing to gain from it, and it's really sidetracking my focus. I have a platform for everything that needs to be said on the matter (all of which is now out there). When third parties get involved (like Ms. White from this morning), things have a way of getting twisted.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 6, 2008 4:11:39 PM

Interesting direction they are taking:

Oh, his identity was stolen. Ummm, yeah, and someone applied for a credit card in his name. And if we really wanted to know who that was, we'd look at the IP address. But we don't care about that. All we want is for G-A-Y to take down the comment.

hmmmm. What is that bullsh*tty odor wafting this way??

Posted by: Timothy Kincaid | Mar 7, 2008 6:40:39 PM

Jeremy,

I see the story now has made the Dallas News. They seem to have prepared a bit less biased of a story.

They do say, however, that you refuse to provide the police with the IP address. That struck me as odd. Can you elucidate?

Posted by: Timothy Kincaid | Mar 8, 2008 1:38:46 PM

Timothy: I haven't "refused" to give the IP addy. The only way they have gone about trying to obtain it is from one local investigator who, IMHO, has been a bit biased in his contact with me (all via email). At least that's the way it feels.

While trying to obtain the IP, I was told that when I check the IP address that I'll find it won't be coming from the school district. I was then provided with the school district's IP addy and told that when I compare the two, I then will see that the posting was not done by Davis.

But here's the thing: For one, I've said on numerous occasions that the comment was made on a Sunday (and therefore not from within the school district). But for another -- why is an investigator trying to lead the witness here? Why is he TELLING ME what I will and will not find?! It was a bit unsettling that this "investigation" is wholly being setup to say with 100% certainty that he did not make the comment, yet without the only sort of investigation that could logically verify such (looking at the computer from wherever he was on 3/2 @ 12:15 ET). I'm not saying I think it's at all necessary to look into his home computer, considering he's done nothing criminal. But if he wants to further this case, then that is what has to be addressed. At this pointit has not.

So back to my releasing of the IP: What I did was provide him with my physical contact address where he can go through the proper channels to obtain IP information if (a) he truly wants it and (b) he truly has the legal right to obtain it. I have been advised that he may not have the jurisdiction (which I'm no saying in fact, only that it's what I've been told). If I NEED to give it over, I of course will. But I'm not going to just hand over information for the heck of it (especially when I don;t fully trust how it would be used!!)

Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 8, 2008 2:00:35 PM

One more thing, Timothy: Nobody has really been able to tell me how there even is a criminal investigation here. I of course never accused Dr. Davis of doing anything criminal. If there is someone violating his credit card and financial information, then that's another story. But it's a story that should really have no connection to the web comment.

As for the comment itself: While it would be highly unethical and quite disgusting for someone to misidentify their email address while commenting on a website, I'm really not sure it constitutes criminal impersonation to do so. Does anyone know? Has a precedent even been set?

Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 8, 2008 2:09:41 PM

I was shocked when I came to this website and discovered this discussion. I am straight and I live in McKinney, Texas. I just ask that you please don't judge all the citizens of McKinney based on this one post. My whole family is family, right down to my child's godmothers. We don't all believe this way.

Posted by: Cindy | Jun 7, 2008 7:23:12 PM

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