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Posts Tagged ‘Clint McCance

Bill Clinton’s Arkansas: A Red State He Would Not Recognize

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Arkansas, you run deep in me.

That’s a line from the state song. But this week, red ran deep in this Blue Dog state that is just this side of wacky. No doubt, Bill Clinton has to be crying somewhere. His home state slipped completely down the rabbit hole.

On Tuesday night, Democrats were hyperventilating as the party lost several state offices along with two congressional seats, seven state senate seats and 16 state house seats. Both houses of the state legislature remain Democratic, but some Democrats are worried that a few conservative colleagues might flip Republican in exchange for committee chairs once the session starts in January. If that happens, Republicans would be the majority for the first time since the Reconstruction Era.

For decades, Republicans were tucked away in northwest Arkansas near the Oklahoma and Missouri borders. Occasionally, one of the rascals would pop up in central Arkansas like in the 1980 gubernatorial race when the late businessman Frank White challenged one-term governor Clinton and won. Mike Huckabee succeeded in the 1990s, but the state remained a conservative shade of blue for the most part. This week the map changed to neon red, flashing a warning to Democrats as they regroup for 2012.

It was no surprise that Democratic Sen. Blanche Lincoln lost to her GOP challenger, Rep. John Boozman. But the state that gave the country its first elected female senator — Hattie Caraway — in 1938 now has no female representation in Washington. In fact, the state only has Martha Shoffner as its treasurer with a handful of women winning legislative seats. But Lincoln’s race was predictable compared to many others.

In Hot Springs, where Clinton graduated from high school, voters chose a dead Republican over a living, breathing Democrat in a state house race. Keith Crass died last week from a heart attack, but that didn’t stop voters from checking the box for him. Now, a special election will be called.

In another county near Little Rock, a Republican who struggled with a hot check history and an outstanding tax lien during his campaign defeated the longtime Democratic prosecuting attorney whose office prosecuted the hot check cases.

Usually Arkansas’ secretary of state races are a boring blowout for Democrats. Even when former first lady Janet Huckabee was the GOP nominee in 2002, few fireworks ignited. This year, the race pitted two candidates with popular, famous names against each other. Republican Mark Martin, a businessman, shared his name with a famous Arkansas race car driver. Democrat Pat O’Brien, a well-known and popular county clerk in Little Rock, was seldom confused with the New Orleans bar with the same name. Martin upset O’Brien in a race that lasted long after the chips had become stale at their watch parties.

Amazingly, one of the most popular governors in the country, Democrat Mike Beebe, held on to his seat by a wide margin. But in another stunner, Mark Darr, a political novice who owns a pizza parlor, upset longtime legislator Shane Broadway to become lieutenant governor. Democrats remember that is the seat from which Huckabee began his political career back in 1993 and moved up when Gov. Jim Guy Tucker resigned in the wake of Clinton’s Whitewater scandals.

Blue Dog Rep. Mike Ross will now be the sole Democrat in the state’s congressional delegation. He ran against Beth Anne Rankin, a former Miss Arkansas (1994) and Huckabee staffer who channeled Sarah Palin by upsweeping her red hair, donning rimless glasses and posing with a big gun. The makeover didn’t work, but Rankin will no doubt resurface again in Arkansas politics.

At least a few shining moments exist in Clintonland this week. Voters chose to allow two dry counties to sell alcohol. Depressed Dems can now find a new watering hole or two to visit. One of the counties also happens to be home to one of the biggest Ku Klux Klan organizations in America.

Then there’s the on-going Clint McCance saga. Most of the state’s politicians didn’t say much about the now ex-school board member’s gay tirade on Facebook. But leave it to a popular gay Star Trek actor, George Takei (Sulu in the original TV series), to say what politicians wouldn’t. In a viral video, he takes McCance down a peg or three. Arkansas runs deep in Takei, too. During World War II, he and his family stayed in a Japanese internment camp in south Arkansas.
Something is now brewing in this state that Takei briefly called home in the 1940s. It’s now a place where some conservative Democrats will use God, guns and gays to take out a liberal Democrat. That was ammunition once reserved for the right-wing contingent from northwest Arkansas. In past years, independent voters usually trend Democratic. They didn’t in this election. Bill Clinton also once had an influence. Not so this year. Scholars say that the Democratic Party could come back stronger in the next few election cycles. Then again, red runs deep here now.

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Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:33 pm

Arkansas School Board Member Resigns After Anti-Gay Facebook Posts

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Clint McCance, who came under immense fire this week for anti-gay Facebook posts, will resign from his position as vice president of the Midland School Board. He made the announcement Thursday night on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.”

He told Cooper that he regretted his inflammatory Facebook posts in which he said he wanted gay people to die and that he enjoyed the fact that gay people “give each other AIDS and die.” In the same Facebook posts, McCance, 31, used the words “queer” and “fag” and said he would disown his children if they were gay, The Advocate first reported Tuesday.
“I would never support suicide for any kids,” he said. “I don’t support bullying of any kids.”
He extended apologies to families that have lost children in suicides related to gay bullying and said suicide is not the answer. He also denied talking to any reporters before Anderson Cooper about the matter. One local blog reported Wednesday that McCance had said the matter had been “blown out of proportion.”
McCance, who lives in Pleasant Plains, Ark., 70 miles north of Little Rock, said he was unaware, like many other people in rural America, about the seriousness of teen suicides. He called his comments “over-the-top” and that he went “too far with them.”
“I brought more hurt on them . . . they don’t deserve that and I do feel genuinely bad for them,” McCance said. He added that he had hurt people on “a broad spectrum” and called his posts “ignorant.”
“I’m not a bad guy . . . not a monster,” he said.
He said he was resigning “to help my school, my community.”
McCance said that his core beliefs haven’t changed about what he reads in the Bible but that he will change the way he acts.
“I’m reaping what I’ve sown,” he said.

McCance has sent his wife and two daughters out of state for fear of their safety after receiving thousands of calls, hate mail and threats.

A group of gay activists from Little Rock traveled to Pleasant Plains Thursday morning. They carried signs that said “All Kids Matter” and “Resign.” The group planned to return to Pleasant Plains Friday morning if McCance had not resigned. A Facebook campaign — Fire Clint McCance — had gained more than 60,000 supporters since Tuesday night. Arkansas education officials condemned McCance’s actions this week but fell short of calling for his resignation.

The Human Rights Campaign, the country’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve LGBT equality, took an ad out in a local paper’s Friday edition, calling for McCance’s resignation. The group’s president, Joe Solmonese, said in a statement Thursday night after Cooper’s show that McCance’s decision to resign was a “step forward.”

“What remains troubling is that Mr. McCance focused his regret on particular word choices not the animus behind those words,” he said. “We hope he will take this time to reflect not only on the language he used but on what he can do to make the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender and questioning young people better.”

Following McCance’s appearance, David and Amy Truong of Houston also appeared on Cooper’s show. Their 13-year-old son, Asher Brown, committed suicide in September after bullying at school. They said he told them he was gay the day he committed suicide.

David Truong said he would pray for McCance, but Amy Truong said that McCance has “given himself a taste of his own medicine.”

“Don’t threaten him, don’t threaten his family,” David Truong said. “Show him compassion.”

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:21 pm

Anti-Gay Rant Attributed to Arkansas School Official Ignites Blogosphere

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The gay and lesbian blogosphere went into overdrive Tuesday when The Advocate, a longtime online news source in the LBGT community, posted a series of vicious and inflammatory anti-gay rants, which the Advocate attributed to an Arkansas school board member.

Seriously they want me to wear purple because five queers killed themselves,” a screen shot of the post (since removed from Facebook) said. “The only way im wearin it for them is if they all commit suicide. I cant believe the people of this world have gotten this stupid. We are honoring the fact that they sinned and killed thereselves because of their sin. REALLY PEOPLE.

The Advocate identified the writer as Clint McCance, who sits on the Midland School Board in Pleasant Plains, Ark. Politics Daily was unable to confirm McCance wrote the Facebook postings — repeated calls to his residence resulted in busy signals. But on Wednesday morning, McCance did not deny authorship when asked by Max Brantley, editor of the Arkansas Times.
McCance told Brantley that the matter had been “blown out of proportion.” He has hired an an attorney, according to the Arkansas Times Web site.

Arkansas gay activists called for McCance’s resignation by Wednesday night. If he doesn’t resign, they said they will hold a vigil outside Midland High School Thursday morning to pressure him to do so.
McCance’s personal Facebook page was unavailable Tuesday afternoon, apparently taken down after The Advocate post.

On Wednesday afternoon, the school district released a statement, “The Midland School District, Board of Directors, administration, faculty, and staff do not support or condone the comments Mr. Clint McCance posted on his personal social networking page. Mr. McCance was not acting as an agent of the school board, but as a private citizen. . . The district is very diligent in pursuing and addressing bullying of any variety on our campuses.”

A school secretary said Wednesday afternoon that McCance’s position on the school board had not changed.

Julie Thompson, spokesman for the Arkansas Department of Education, told Politics Daily that the department also “strongly condemns” the remarks. But “Because Mr. McCance is an elected official, the department has no means of dealing with him directly. However, the department does have staff who investigate matters of bullying in schools and we will monitor and quickly respond to any bullying of students that may occur because of this, as we have with other civil rights issues in the past.”

Meanwhile, a Facebook campaign condemning the tirade — “Fire Clint McCance” – was launched and nearly 20,000 people have joined the cause.

The issue of gay bullying has been in the forefront of the nation’s conscience since Tyler Clementi, a freshman at Rutgers University, killed himself last month after a video of him in an intimate encounter with another man was posted on the Internet.
A series of videos aimed at helping young gays and lesbians, called “It Gets Better,” has gone viral, and even President Obama recently issued a video message to GLBT students after numerous incidences were reported of gay suicides and bullying.

Coincidentally on Tuesday, Secretary of Education Arne Duncan sent a message to 15,000 school districts and 5,000 college and universities stating that bullying is not acceptable and schools may have an obligation to intervene under federal law.
According to The Advocate’s report, McCance’s status update received six comments from Facebook acquaintances “liking” the board member’s status. One person commented, “Because hatred is always right.”

A person the Advocate identified as McCance responded: “No because being a fag doesn’t give you the right to ruin the rest of our lives. If you get easily offended by being called a fag then dont tell anyone you are a fag. Keep that s— to yourself. I dont care how people decide to live their lives. They dont bother me if they keep it to thereselves. It pisses me off though that we make a special purple fag day for them. I like that fags cant procreate. I also enjoy the fact that they often give each other aids and die. If you arent against it, you might as well be for it.”

Another response to a commenter was equally provocative: “I would disown my kids if they were gay. They will not be welcome at my home or in my vicinity. I will absolutely run them off. Of course my kids will know better. My kids will have solid christian beliefs. See it infects everyone.”

On Tuesday night, the high school’s principal’s blog page was filled with comments from around the country. One commenter wrote: “Surely by now, you’ve seen the backlash against your board member, Mr. McCance, in regards to his horrifying comments regarding LGBT youth. His comments, while on his private Facebook page, are both inappropriate and dangerous … and indications of a horrifying disregard for human life.”

He continued, “I urge you to dismiss Mr. McCance for his egregious writings and warped sense of right and wrong. He now stands for an idea of hatred and bigotry in your community, without you sending a firm message against such callousness, you will be telling the youth of your community that his actions and hate speech are acceptable.” All comments were deleted Wednesday morning.

Matt DeCample, a spokesman for Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe, told Politics Daily that his boss “is aware of Mr. McCance’s comments, and while he feels there is never a place for such deplorable comments about any child, school boards are independent and locally controlled. Mr. McCance is an elected official, so any direct action would have to be taken at the local level.”

Pleasant Plains sits in Independence County in north-central Arkansas near Batesville, where President Bill Clinton campaigned recently for Democrats. The town has a population of around 300, and Midland High School has about 292 students.

Some research shows that nearly 9 out of 10 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students are harassed each year because of their sexual orientation.

They “experience this harassment far too much in schools, but to think that such harassment could come from a school board member is unfathomable,” Daryl Presgraves, a spokesperson for GLSEN, Inc., the Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, told Politics Daily. GLSEN recently launched Safe Spaces Kit for classrooms, which includes a 42-page “Guide to Being an Ally to LGBT Students.”

“These kind of remarks breed hostility,” said Randi Romo of the Center for Artistic Revolution, a non-profit organization that fights for fairness and equality for all Arkansans. “These remarks make people think that it is okay to say such things, making an open season on LGBT teenagers. It gives them a sense of permission and that is wrong.”

Written by suziparker1313

March 8, 2011 at 10:20 pm