EXCLUSIVE: Tweet posted by site of San Diego mayoral hopeful, Carl DeMaio’s life partner widely called ‘racist’Breaking News, Online Only, Top Highlights Friday, April 6th, 2012
LGBT Weekly social media reporter, Will Rodriguez-Kennedy, who is a veteran of the Iraq War and who is Puerto Rican, was likened to a feces-throwing monkey in a Twitter post from an account owned by the life partner of the leading San Diego mayoral candidate, City Councilman Carl DeMaio.
The tweet in question contained a link to a Hulu.com video of a Saturday Night Live skit entitled “Monkeys Throwing Poop at Celebrities.” Historically, monkeys have been used to demean people of color. The full text of the tweet, which has since been removed from SDGLN.com’s Twitter feed, read: “THIS JUST IN: Video of @willrk787 reacting to our posting of@gustafsoncraig‘s great piece on DeMaio today http://ow.ly/a26PL .”
The link at the end of the post leads not to the referenced article by San Diego Union Tribune writer, Craig Gustafson about DeMaio’s tough childhood, instead taking followers of @SDGLN to the scatological monkey-skit video. Notably, “@willrk787” is Rodriguez-Kennedy’s Twitter handle.
“(I was) very surprised,” said Rodriguez-Kennedy, who works for LGBT Weekly and once worked for Carl DeMaio (DeMaio is one of two gay candidates in the race). “It’s unusual for a publication to use their official Twitter feed to attack someone who is not running for office – particularly in (such) an offensive way.”
SDGLN.com is LGBT Weekly’s closest local competitor; and it is no secret that a spirited rivalry exists between the two organizations. The former is owned and operated by a man with whom politician DeMaio is, as he describes it, in a “committed relationship.” Both SDGLN and the DeMaio campaign were asked to comment on the incident. However, SDGLN’s owner, Johnathan Hale, pointedly hung up the phone three times when we called for comment, once saying “I don’t talk to you.” SDGLN’s editor was also contacted by voicemail and email, but has yet to reply. Likewise, there has been no response from Carl DeMaio for Mayor campaign manager, Ryan Clumpner.
Asked how he felt when he read the Twitter post, Rodriguez-Kennedy said: “I was pretty mad about it. I actually was called ‘monkey’ in elementary school because I looked darker and had big ears – still do. So, it wasn’t something I was going to just laugh about.”
However, Rodriguez-Kennedy is giving SDGLN.com the benefit of doubt about whether or not the tweet was intended as a racial slur.
“I don’t think it was intended to be racist,” he said, adding that there may be a double standard in how the organization treats insults in its reportage.
“I think it just came out that way,” he said. “And regardless, that is why it was wrong. This same organization screamed bloody murder when (a reporter) used the word “fag” at CityBeat.
Intentions notwithstanding, Rodriguez-Kennedy wonders how such a post could happen in the first place.
“Why would they think it would be OK to use a video to compare a person of color to a monkey?” Rodriguez-Kennedy asked rhetorically.
“At the very least, it gives the perception of racism,” he said. “It may be a coincidence that the editorial team and publisher happen to be all white. Monkey is a term that typically is employed against African Americans, but me being of Puerto Rican dissent, my culture is deeply entwined with African Americans by blood and history.”
Also reacting to the post, someone with the Twitter handle @echo5juliet tweeted, “calling people of color a monkey is racist, especially one of my fellow Marines!!”
Meanwhile, @MattCorrales tweeted, “Yeah, that’s pretty damn racist. And childish. What happened to dialogue? It’s clear why everyone’s leaving the SD GOP.”
For his part, Rodriguez-Kennedy says he would simply like an apology.
“If they had apologized I would have been ok with it,” he said. “… The fact is that its inappropriate. Just own up to it; do the right thing and apologize. This isn’t hard – we all make mistakes.”
This post has been edited from the original, which erroneously reported than rival mayoral candidate, Nathan Fletcher had tweeted his support for fellow Marine, Will Rodriguez-Kennedy. The referenced Fletcher tweet was unrelated to the issue reported in this story (-Ed.)
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