This screenshot is making the rounds in Great Falls today:
Did Big Mike really post this on Facebook? Let’s consider some of the possibilities.
1. Big Mike left his computer (or phone, tablet, etc) unattended somewhere, and one of his buddies did it as a joke. Hey, it happens. People do that sometimes when a friend leaves their phone on a desk or table and steps away, or is distracted for a few minutes. I’d put the likelihood of this at about…25%
2. Big Mike’s Facebook account was hacked. This is within the realm of possibility. Likelihood: 10%
3. Big Mike did indeed post this, but he meant it in a joking way; you know, making fun of haters, mocking them. But if this is true, then he forgot to give any clue that it was a joke. Likelihood: benefit of the doubt here – let’s say 35%
4. Big Mike did post it, and absolutely meant every word. Odds: 30%
5. ISIS created a fake Facebook profile for someone named “Mike Lenahan” in Great Falls several years ago, and is using this weekend’s Big Sky Pride event to finally launch a hateful attack. Likelihood: Nope.
The screenshot has been passed around to several people on Facebook, and someone sent it to Joe Briggs, one of the Cascade County Commissioners, and also to the Cascade County Undersheriff. That’s because Big Mike apparently is an officer at the Cascade County Detention Center.
If Big Mike really did post this, and meant it, then it is indeed disturbing: someone who uses the words “faggots” and “homo” in this manner who is in charge of supervising inmates…um, that is not good. Imagine a jail employee (or any public employee, in fact) posting something similar about (for instance) black people: “Damn niggers all over Great Falls…”
Is Mike entitled to his opinions? Absolutely! Is he entitled to voice them or share them online? Of course!
I get it: some people don’t like gay people, for some reason(s). Maybe fear, maybe disgust, maybe repressed homosexual desires – whatever.
But bashing gay people and calling them names simply because they exist? Sorry, but this is the year 2016, and the days when that was acceptable thankfully are long, long gone.
BUT. Public employees – paid with tax dollars, working for and on behalf of all citizens – are usually held to higher standards of public discourse. So people being outraged by Big Mike’s post (assuming, of course, that he is responsible) are justified in their anger. If someone saw a similar Facebook post written by, say, a barista, or farmer, or insurance agent, well…the reaction might have been disgust, or anger, or sadness, etc.
But a public employee in a law enforcement role posting something like this…that’s a bit different – as evidenced by what appears to be the reply from Joe Briggs, according to this screenshot:
IF this is all true. Remember, this is just a screenshot – we don’t know what kind of comments or explanation exist below that post.
PS: And whether this specific instance is true or not, it highlights the importance of Pride events. Similar to the civil rights movement in the 60s – an entire group of people who have been marginalized, de-humanized, criminalized, attacked, harassed, beaten, and literally killed, finally standing up to say “No more!” And joined in their struggle by people who were/are not black/gay/etc.
The word “pride” does not necessarily mean “pride” in the sense that someone is literally proud of something they have no control over (being black, being gay, etc), but rather as a counter to the word that society has used to label them for so long: shame.
(UPDATE: in response to some of the comments on my Facebook post about this — even if this is true, I don’t think he should lose his job. Education/training, yes, but not fired)
UPDATE: I have confirmed a couple of things: first, that he posted this NOT out of hatred, bigotry, etc — he meant it in a joking way for someone who is close to him who is gay. Second, his employer did look into it and found no evidence that any laws or personnel regulations were broken. I have also been assured that he is an outstanding detention officer with no reported incidents of unfair treatment to any person or group.