FEEDBACK: Why treat gossip as news?

Posted on 29 Dec 2011 at 3:12pm

Why is the Voice treating gossip as news?

Let’s take a page from an eighth-grade government textbook: In the United States of America, our justice system operates on the principle of innocent until proven guilty. Roughly speaking, it means the burden of proof rests on the accuser. Sadly, it seems more and more these days, that everyone is automatically assumed guilty absent of any required proof. This leaves the accuser free to say anything he wants, true or not, while rarely held accountable for the gossip and inaccuracies he perpetuates.  Enter the latest, but not so greatest, gossip monger/exploiter du jour, Glen Maxey (and indirectly, David Webb).

It seems, that after Mr. Maxey’s “thorough” investigation of our governor’s sexuality, the best result he, or anyone else, can produce is the same, old, tired, worthless: “My best friend knows a guy who dated a waiter who is the cousin of a pizza delivery guy who’s mom used to babysit for a guy whose brother in-law used to deliver the mail to this dude who lived next door to Rick Perry in 1992 and has it on good authority …” Bullshit.

Glen Maxey’s words and actions parallel those of another former politician by the name of Joseph McCarthy. Under McCarthy, hundreds of people were accused of being Communist with no proof. They were never given the right to confront their accusers, or see the so-called evidence compiled against them. Lives were ruined with no more than an accusation. Like McCarthy, all Mr. Maxey is doing is waging a smear campaign based on rumor and innuendo. And like McCarthy with his “list” of Communists who had infiltrated the deepest layers of U.S. government, Mr. Maxey claims his own “list” of witnesses and evidence, while he has an even longer list of excuses as to why he can never share it with anyone. Until Mr. Maxey puts his money where his mouth is and can prove what he claims is true, he’s nothing more than a slanderer and libeler. It’s the equivalent of yelling “Fire!” in a crowded theater.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m NO fan of Rick Perry by any means, and the sooner that bastard leaves public office, the better.  However, there’s a much larger issue at play here than Rick Perry’s sex life. Think about it. Anyone with a grudge, or who simply doesn’t like you, can make up any story he wants about you without having to provide a shred of evidence. He can spread those stories around in public, post it online (or publish a book) and it’s all on YOU to prove he’s a liar! Even if successful in proving the accuser a fraud, the seeds of doubt and mistrust have been sowed among your friends, relatives, and associates. Am I the only one who recognizes how screwed up that is?

Anyone reading this knows damn good and well that if this were a situation where Ann Coulter, Bill O’Reilly, or Rush Limbaugh was making similar accusations against any of our revered LGBT civic leaders (accusing Ellen DeGenes of being a pedophile, for example), the LGBT community would be raising hell. Yet, when Glen Maxey does it, everyone’s cool with it? Because we perceive our cause to be noble, we can rationalize being as despicable as the other guys? It just goes to show; red or blue, gay or straight, the excrement smells the same.

Jon Cooper, Dallas

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