Following a tumultuous day for him that included critical e-mails and a call home to his parents from readers of this Blog, the student who sent the offensive original message apologized to me in a letter on Facebook and requested that I take his name off of the blog. He said I could share the letter with you, and I think it is only fair to offer him a chance to provide his own version of the events.
Here’s what he said:
I would like to personally apologize for my comment to you on Facebook. It is something that I deeply regret saying, and was merely a result of my propensity to speak without thinking. I am not sure as to how I was even put onto the list to receive messages regarding an event I had not RSVP’d for. I had already gotten multiple copies of the message, and was simply mad to see what appeared to be spam messages in my Facebook inbox (something that would not have been surprising had it been Myspace). Again, without even thinking, I quickly fired off the response that I sent to you. I never once viewed your profile, and I can assure you that this was NOT a deliberate act of homophobia; in fact, I have many gay friends and acquaintances…
…and the fact that your blog is posted for the world to see worries me, and how I will have to explain actions to people, when my rash comment doesn’t accurately portray my personality, although you may feel differently. If you knew me, or talked to any of my friends, I think you would find that I would never have said that to someone that is homosexual. I did not at all mean to offend you any more than when someone jokingly uses the term. I think, what you are actually angered by, is the fact that using the word “fag” as a synonym for “dumb” “stupid” or “jerk” has become widely socially accepted. I would agree that this is wrong, and I apologize for allowing myself to fall victim to this widening social trend. However, I feel that it’s not appropriate for you to punish me so harshly for something that (as big of a cliche as it might seem) is actually society’s fault. I promise you, that I will think before speaking from now on, and that I will try my hardest to remove that term from my vocabulary; all I ask is that you would respect me and not make baseless assumptions about me on your blog. I would also like to thank you for being so receiving towards my apologies, and my requests to take my name off of the site.
[Following his apology, the student’s name has been replaced with his initials and other information about him has been removed from the entry. Here is my original entry, minus any personal information about him.]
Last Tuesday, about three hours before the Road to Guantanamo screening, I came across an article in the UK Guardian detailing the experiences of the three men whose story is told powerfully by the film. Because the movie’s plot is a bit confusing, I thought it would be helpful to share the article with those who were registered for the event on Facebook, just in case a few attendees had a moment before the screening to read some of the article. The event went off without a hitch, but the next day, I was disturbed to look in my Facebook inbox and find this message from a certain DN from another school in California:
I was shocked, to say the least. Who the hell was DN, and why was he on our event list?
And why, exactly, would he go out of his way to say something like that?
Luckily, the word “fag” doesn’t amaze me as much as it did when I was first struggling to come out. But I was floored when I read that message the day after the screening because I am very open at Stanford and have never been on the personal receiving end of a hate speech attack.
I have since written to Facebook to complain, but haven’t yet heard back from them. And I don’t know why he was on our event list, except that perhaps someone mistakenly invited him and he somehow mistakenly accepted the invitation. Facebook, as far as I know, does not send event messages to people who have not accepted an invitation.
So, really, it seems like his act was quite deliberate. Just as easily as one can accept an invitation to an event on Facebook, one can click a button to leave the event once that invitation has been accepted. Instead of quietly opting to leave the event, DN went out of his way to make my day a sad one. What a loving world in which we live.
This is purely speculative, but I’m guessing from his profile that his being listed as “conservative” means he’s probably also not in favor of raising awareness of America’s use of torture through films such as The Road to Guantanamo. Perhaps he was angry about the article I sent out because of this, and perhaps he wanted to see just who it was that was behind the event. Clicking on my name and seeing my sexuality listed, it must have added fuel to the flame, and calling me a “fag” was just a few clicks and keystrokes away from a self-satisfying expression of his personal righteousness and dominance.
But that’s just speculation. I don’t know him. Entries on his blog (link removed) suggest that he’s at least sarcastically racist and homophobic.
Enough on this. It’s time to get to bed.