Mike Hein and Freepers Attack 11-Year-Old Transgendered Girl In Orono, Maine
(Update: Because Autumn has linked to this post frequently as part of ongoing stories, I have decided to go back and fix several gender references [7 total including the title] that were originally incorrect, solely for the sake of clarity. The errors were an ignorant mistake on my part, as is noted in the first few comments. In some cases instead of fixing the gender reference, I added some quote marks to clarify that I was quoting the wrong gender directly from the erroneous media sources; this is an important detail which I felt was obfusciated because of my errors, and in fact was the cause of them. The main text, sentiment, and any other errors of mine have not otherwise been altered. 7/26/08 )
A few minutes ago the lede up to the local 6 o'clock news here in northern Maine on WABI (CBS) caught my ear and I had to sit down to watch: “Controversy” was brewing over a “boy using a girl's restroom” at Orono Middle School. (Orono is near Bangor, and home to the Unviversity of Maine, a generally progressive area.)
An 11 year-old “boy who wants to become a girl” was being hounded by some local parents who didn't want him using the girl's restroom.
Then the actual story came on and I couldn't believe my eyes. Only one person was interviewed for the story; the bigoted grandfather of one of the girl's fellow students, who in response to learning of the transgender student, told his own grandson to begin using the girl's restroom as well in protest. The bigot's grandson was promptly suspended and now the old man is leading a one-man crusade on the subject. Footage was shown of him being promptly cut off at the school board meeting, being told that the girl in question was now being forced to use the 'correct' bathroom. (wtf?)
No one from the school was interviewed. None of the girl's parents, friends, parents of friends, counselor or any opposing viewpoint whatsoever was presented. The story ended with the old man vowing to continue his fight.
(More below the fold.)
This was the lead story on the 6 o'clock news on the most widely-watched network in the area, a network that doesn't usually stoop to such things. I came on line to get the newsroom number and upon calling was met with a surly, defensive response to my objections, the only excuse given for the extremely one-sided coverage was that the old man was the only one willing to speak on camera. “Really?” I asked. “You couldn't find a counselor or anything? You can't just show one man trying to form a lynch mob against an 11-year-old girl and call it news. What if this student gets even more harassment? What if she commits suicide because of the call to action you just broadcast?”
This was met with indifference and a promise to forward my objections to the reporter in charge.
Then after making another online discovery I got interested enough to post this diary–
I went to Google to see if anyone else in the area was covering this story and how they were doing it. (WABI does not have a link up for the story yet, but I will add it if it becomes available.)
There were only two major links for the story, and guess who they belonged to?
Mike Hein's Christian Civic League, the asshat quoted on the side of the page you're reading right now. (They say the “boy” is 12. I'm sure the lie of one step closer to puberty helped get their crazy-ball rolling.) And of course, the Freepers. The Freeper page contains a link and reproduction to a Bangor Daily News story that isn't much better, (it amounts to an ad for the CCL and is clearly the source of the TV piece,) though at least they spoke to school officials. I wrote that reporter as well.
I am disturbed by this sudden imbalance in reporting and the harm it will cause. If you are too, if you would like to ask them to present both sides of the story, or if you feel concern for this poor little girl and the harm that may be done, feel free to let WABI and Bangor Daily News know the error of their ways. Or the wrong-headedness of using a cultish, barely-supported, propaganda-spewing Mass-Resistance ally as the sole source of a story. (Or you can just register a complaint):
Phone: 1-207-947-8321 (Newsroom extension 1)
Aimee Dolloff at Bangor Daily News: firstname.lastname@example.org
Bangor Daily News comments. (Newsroom)