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03/03/2008

Oh no, no, no, no, no!

by Jeremy Hooper

Remember this morning when we highlighted a comment that was left on our website over the weekend? And remember how when we Googled the email address that was given to us by the commenter, it linked back to an official with a Texas public school system? Well, we had thought that Texas school system would want to get to bottom of why someone was using their school-associated work account to foster anti-gay bias. Instead, however, they have taken the opportunity to try and threaten and intimidate us.

This email just came us to from a tech guy within the Mckinney Independent School District:

Picture 8-75

Our reply is after the jump:

Picture 9-72

Note: Here's the thing: We have no desire to hurt someone or their livelihood. But the fact is that we have a right and responsibility to monitor every bit of bias that is directed towards us. We respond to bullying. It's a big part of what we do. And when someone who works for a public school system is found to be making really nasty comments about the "disease" that is gayness, we have no choice but to combat that. The interest is to protect the children and teachers (and combat bias in general), not harm Dr. Davis. We are questioning why HE would want to harm us with such heated words against our lives and loves!

**UPDATE: We have been contacted by other employees, some of whom have been far more respectful of the situation than the above email.

**UPDATE 2: We were just forwarded an email correspondence, in which yet another Mckinney staffer calls our posted information "false and inaccurate," even though the ONLY possible back up they would have for this claim is Mr. Davis' personal testimony. And then this person went on to say that "The school district's lawyers have been in contact with the owner of the site and are currently investigating the situation." This is a COMPLETE LIE. The person who has contacted us under the pretense of legalese is a TECH PERSON!

While we respect that they would want to protect and defend their friend and colleague, we will not have them turning this around and misrepresenting this situation. If Mr. Davis wants to prove that someone other than himself made the comments under his email address, we are going to need much more than anecdotal refutations made after the situation was brought to light!!!

***UPDATE. 3/5: McKinney, TX update [G-A-Y]

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


Your thoughts

you have every right to leave it up. Don't be intimidated.

Posted by: a. mcewen | Mar 3, 2008 12:31:49 PM

Don't worry.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 3, 2008 12:34:57 PM

Nice work, and definitely don't back down. I can only imagine how he's abused his position in the past-- the least he deserves is to catch some heat for it this time.

Posted by: p. arsenault | Mar 3, 2008 12:54:36 PM

One wonders how Davis came across this site in the first place. Perhaps some of our friends in Texas who are no doubt reading today could elaborate on that.

They're certainly not reading the science journals.


Posted by: Mad John | Mar 3, 2008 1:09:40 PM

Well what really annoys me is the tone they are choosing to take over this. This same sort of incident once happened involving a Chicago area teacher, and when it was brought to the attention of school officials, there concern was (a) the bias and (b) the usage of school email address. Which is what it should be.

But instead of taking that route, this district is choosing to just accept Mr. Davis' claim that he had nothing to do with this. They have provided no evidence that would refute the evidence on our side, only his word. And they are trying to run this around to make us look like the bullies, while threatening us with baseless claims (defamation, improper usage. etc.)! It is more than a little disturbing.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 3, 2008 1:18:01 PM

I think it's great that you stand up to these people. I really like reading your blog knowing that not only are you keeping an eye on things but you are also willing to challenge people. Thanks

Posted by: Kate | Mar 3, 2008 2:13:16 PM

They wanted you to delete the comment while they were still "investigating"? How strange. I find it equally strange that they didn't ask you to reveal the IP address the comment originated from as a part of the investigative process. Or did you already provide that?

I also find it curious that a technical person would start making legal threats. As a rule, legal threats should be made by administrators and lawyers.

Posted by: Jarred | Mar 3, 2008 2:40:42 PM

Jarred: Well, there is no legal threat to be made. We have done nothing wrong. And it's EXTREMELY insulting for them to turn this around, when all they are going on is his own claims that he didn't write it.

There is a slim chance that it could have originated from someone else close to him that had some sort of malice. But look at the comment -- what would someone have to gain in doing so?! It's not like a comment that would cause him great embarrassment. It is simply a standard "pro-family"-like condemnation of homosexuality.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 3, 2008 2:51:22 PM

I just started reading your site recently--and I have to say, you rock! Keep up the good work.

Posted by: Laurie | Mar 3, 2008 3:14:30 PM

Just a guess here:

Dr. Davis thought that using his title and position would lend credibility to his comments.

When you called him on it, he realized that the school dept. probably didn't much like a representative preaching bigotry on the web and panicked. Rather than approach the school's legal dept., he asked a tech buddy to respond and deny and make threats.

If all of the above is more than a wild guess, I think Dr. Davis is not going to have a happy next couple of weeks. Writing his opinion probably wouldn't hurt him much in McKinney, TX. But lying about it and making legal claims that were not cleared by the legal dept. could put him in some hot water.

Posted by: Timothy | Mar 3, 2008 3:18:00 PM

G-A-Y:

I agree with you. I was merely pointing out some of the irregularities in the response you received. These irregularities lead me to suspect, much like Timothy, that the technical person in question is a friend of or otherwise sympathetic towards Dr. Davis and acting of his own volition rather than communicating an "authorized" response from the school district.

Of course, if my suspicions are correct, said technician is on as much shaky grands as Dr. Davis. After all, school district officials don't care for it when unauthorized individuals tend to speak for them.

Posted by: Jarred | Mar 3, 2008 3:30:37 PM

Jarred: Sorry, didn't make it to sound like I was disagreeing with you. I was really just trying to build on what you had said.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 3, 2008 3:33:33 PM

Dude, you have the internet on your side, that school's website server would fail to exist if any legal action was taken... and on what grounds anyway? That some biggot from Texas got called out and now the entire district and children will find out? HAHA that's what you get stupid ignorant ass.

Posted by: | Mar 3, 2008 11:15:11 PM

"we have no choice but to combat that." Bull. You made a choice. It was the correct and moral one. However please stop pretending your the unwitting tool of a greater force. Standing up for principals you believe to be right is commendable. Pretending that tracking someone's email and notifying their boss had to be done, is false. You went out of your way to hurt this person.FACT.

You were right to do so. My opinion.
Don't play helpless. Don't play victim. You got yourself into this. Now kick their asses. Because it serves your values. Not because you have to. Because it offends you that this prick is spreading bullsh*t from taxpayer resources. Serve your principals, or fail.

Posted by: Tony | Mar 4, 2008 1:11:43 AM

If you want your comment removed from a website, don't comment in the first place. This, Dr. Davis, is called thinking before you act; which is a virtue the taxpayers in Texas are paying you to instill in their children.

Keep fighting, Jeremy.

Posted by: Troy | Mar 4, 2008 3:53:42 AM

I am definitely NOT a lawyer, but there was a ruling about using thumbnails that would seem to support your position Jeremy:

http://www.law.duke.edu/journals/dltr/articles/2002dltr0006.html

Whether this applies in this case or not I have no idea. As far as the comments he posted here, including his email address, along with the contact information at the school, the author of this letter to you doesn't have a leg to stand on IMO. Davis is a public official so any claims of privacy are negated. In addition, because he is a public official the claim of defamation requires a higher standard since opinion, satire, etc. are fully allowed. Of course, take all this as being the opinion of a complete layman...

Posted by: John | Mar 4, 2008 6:52:35 AM

Tony: If you really think that we would go out of our way to hurt someone, then you are not familiar with this site. We challenge messages, not people. The goal is for anti-gay people to see the error in their line of logic and to come to a better place of understanding.

We do feel that combating bias like this IS something that we must do. The site has been setup to challenge any and everyone's anti-gay attitudes. So when it falls right into our lap, we have no choice but to follow through. That it what was meant by that comment.

Also, nobody went out of their way to track his email. He gave his email. Twice. All it took was a simple Google search to find his position. And again, considering what we do, it'd almost impossible to ignore it when you find that such a nasty comment seemingly coming from someone in Dr. Davis' position. The interest is protecting the children, parents, teachers, etc., and not hurting Dr. Davis.

Nobody is playing the victim here. The only goal here is to get out the accurate information as it stands, and to combat the misrepresentations coming from a few within the school district.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 4, 2008 7:25:21 AM

John: Well, the thumbnail thing is bullshit in many ways.
(a) Yes, there is precedent set that allows us to use thumbnail images that cannot be blown up to full size without depreciating the quality. It's the whole "good enough for Google" rule.
(b) We have a right to use such an image for highlighting our story. It's completely fair use.
(c) The graphic links back to its home on their site. What are they claiming, that they have a copyright on a portion of their school district's site? Fine. Then they have to show that our usage was out of line and caused their product harm. If anything, by linking directly back to the site, we have brought them traffic. And we have made no disparaging remarks about the school system (or even Davis himself, for that matter). All we have done is presented the information that we have.

In terms of defamation: Well first off, he has to have genuinely had no part in writing the comment to have any basis. We think that's unlikely. But even if he didn't write the comment, we have not made any defamatory claims about Dr. Davis. We have presented exactly what appeared on our side, and connected the email address we were given back to his role at the school district. And then we posted commentary about why this matter is of concern to us. If you go back and read the post, you will see that we have left room for the possibility that Dr. Davis was the victim of a prank (as unlikely as that seems).

Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 4, 2008 8:48:07 AM

The other thing to keep in mind is that the IT Acceptable Use Policy (or IT policy) limits the use of school resources for personal use. One could argue that this posting by Dr. Davis has caused undue burden on the District's computer resources.

See:
http://www.tasb.org/policy/pol/private/043907/pol.cfm?DisplayPage=CQ(LOCAL).pdf

Also, if Dr. Davis was to have left his computer unattended, and open to others to use, this could be a violation of other IT policies.

The irony is that Dr. Davis is most likely the person within the ISD that would have to investigate his abuse of the ISD policies :-)

Posted by: James | Mar 4, 2008 2:42:07 PM

I think you meant to reply to Tony? I hope.

Posted by: Troy | Mar 5, 2008 1:20:04 AM

Oops. Yea, the comment was meant for Tony, not you, Troy. It's been corrected.

Posted by: G-A-Y | Mar 5, 2008 7:16:25 AM

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