Nitwits run for office at every level in the United States. They’re almost a form of entertainment here, except that some of them manage to get elected and then the manure spreader goes full throttle. Thankfully, a lot of them tend to trip up on the campaign trail.
At the national level there are plentiful candidates of infamy to consider, but let’s go with Texas Gov. Rick Perry. He’s the U.S. presidential candidate who, within the last decade or two, entertained bigwigs at his family’s leased hunting camp, which had a big old sign dubbing it “Nig*erhead.” Perry was quoted last year saying that the racist slur is an “offensive name that has no place in the modern world.” Interesting, that it took him until the olden days of the late 20th century to figure out that the camp’s racist name was not cool and agree that the sign should be obscured (there are conflicting stories about when this actually happened).
It makes you wonder if Perry’s enlightenment coincided with his aspirations for higher office.
At the local level, there’s another cornucopia of unlikely aspirants, but let’s go with Cal State University San Marcos (CSUSM) student Matt Weaver (pictured at left). He’s one of two presidential candidates for Associated Students Inc. (ASI), the university’s student government. Last year, he helped launch the CSUSM edition of The Koala, a for-profit, privately-owned tabloid. (The Koala also publishes editions for San Diego State and UCSD.*) For the last semester or two, Weaver has worked as The Koala‘s editor, publishing such epithets as (profanity alert!), “taco-eating se hablos,” “fu*king swarm of brown sh*t,” “ghetto barbie,” “squinty eyed,” “go*damn c*nt bag,” “faculty bitch,” “cum dumpster carp,” “fa*got,” “fa* hag” and “class IV trog-zar.” Unlike Perry’s epiphany of racial enlightenment, Weaver has not yet acknowledged the discriminatory and harassing content of The Koala. In fact, just last semester, Weaver was extolling the supposedly humorous virtues of The Koala’s racist, homophobic, misogynistic, pedophilic and violent content.
But now Matt Weaver wants to represent the very people The Koala maligns for their race and ethnicity, for their sexual orientation, for being disabled or old or ill — or female.
Rick Perry had the grace — or perhaps it was just good sense — to bow out of the presidential race as his idiocies were revealed in media outlets across the nation and his support didn’t hold up to the competition.
Matt Weaver, on the other hand, remains in the ASI presidential race, and it likely has nothing to do with grace or good sense. It’s more likely due to the fact that Weaver has run a stealth campaign, apparently attempting to keep his affiliation with The Koala out of the media. He reportedly refused interviews. He failed to produce a candidate video. He even omitted his job with The Koala from his ASI candidate statement.
It makes you wonder if Weaver’s failure to inform the student body of his role as Koala editor coincided with the realization that he needs to get a job after college. ASI president would look much better on his resume than editor of a hate tabloid that publishes racist content and violent pedophilic scenarios, that revels in homophobia and misogyny, that advocates rape and other violence against students and staff.
Weaver writes in his candidate statement, “My strong leadership and motivational skills will work well with the rest of the Associated Student board members.”
Contrast that with an email Weaver sent to the Koala staff in October. In his message, he attempted to motivate the staff to belittle — with sexual innuendo — the ASI “Positive Personal Ads” campaign, developed to counter the hate in The Koala’s personals. Weaver wrote:
From: The Koala Editor <email@example.com>
Date: Sun, Oct 16, 2011 at 11:44 AM
Subject: Koala Meeting Tomorrow (Monday) – University 260 Computer Lab – 7 PM
… Oh, and we’re having a staff contest. The ASI newsletter contains a ripoff of our Personals feature, but for positive sentiments only. Seeing as how this is hilarious, the contest will be to submit a personal that could be interpreted as either good or bad. For example, their inaugural feature contained the following personal – “Thank you to my business professor for always taking the extra time to help me after class.” So, anyone who can get their cleverly dirty personals printed can have a tall boy of a premium beer at the next meeting after the next ASI newsletter is published. You’re going to need to form an anonymous e-mail account and submit a personal to firstname.lastname@example.org. Have fun!
Thanks and see you tomorrow.
Do you suppose Weaver’s disdainful attitude toward ASI has suddenly improved?
Weaver’s candidate statement then poses this question, “How will I accomplish serving, engaging, and empowering students?”
This must be a tough question for Weaver, given the discriminatory, denigrating and threatening content of The Koala at CSUSM, content that targets just about everyone who is not a white, male, heterosexual. For example, in the September 2011 issue, Weaver published a photo of a pornographic scene with a CSUSM student activist’s face superimposed on one of the bodies. The student, a member of the LGBTQI community, did not find this empowering. And my ongoing critique of The Koala drew the following call to violence in the December 2011 issue: “[I]f you see KB give her a swift kick in the testicles for me would you? It might knock some sand out of her vagina.” Nope, not empowering.
Weaver goes on to answer the question with the following: “Simply by getting more students directly involved with our campus, and transforming the atmosphere of this campus from a commuter school, to one we can call home.”
However, he fails to explain how he could possibly help the targets of The Koala’s discrimination, threats and harassment to feel at home at CSUSM. Having spent the past year wielding free speech as a weapon, Weaver’s statement is unbelievable. Until he proves himself, Matt Weaver is not a good candidate for representing anything but hate.
Weaver might have avoided tripping along the campaign trail, but perhaps he’ll trip at the polls. If you are a student at CSUSM, vote for the other guy.
* The Koala is a for-profit business owned by George Lee Liddle III; Sammy Elhag withdrew from the partnership in 2011, after The Koala at UCSD published a manipulated pornographic image of a student leader.
Click here for other posts about The Koala.
Kit-Bacon Gressitt's commentary and political fiction can be read on her blog Excuse Me, I'm Writing and is republished by SDGLN, The Ocean Beach Rag and The Progressive Post. She was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize while working for the North County Times. She is also host of Fallbrook's monthly Writers Read open mic and can be reached at email@example.com.