Senator Saxby Chambliss’ (R-Georgia) has said that a staffer in his office Tuesday wrote the comment “all faggots must die” in a post about the ‘Don’t’ Ask, Don’t Tell’ Senate vote which appeared at New York gay blogger Joe Jervis’s site Joe My God. Runnin Scared spoke to Jervis about why the comment wasn’t unusual for gay blogs, why it still caught his attention, and why he’s not convinced it came from that Republican Senator’s office.
Have they figured out who actually wrote “all faggots must die“?
They haven’t. The Chambliss office has not yet disclosed who it is. It’s all getting very federal. Chambliss…rather than to do an internal investigation, and disciplining his staffer, he’s going to hand it off to the Senate Sergeant at Arms, who handles misconduct of Senate staffers. I’m not completely convinced that it came out of Chambliss’ office, though.
No. We’ve confirmed it came out of one of two offices, but the other one [Senator Johnny Isakson] is up for re-election, and I wonder if someone in the office who isn’t running for re-election is going to fall on a sword to keep attention from the one running in a tight race. We’ll probably never know who exactly it was.
Technically, how did you figure this out?
I looked up the IP address, and it was a secure, federal government IP named U.S. Senate. I happen to know that there are two Republican Senators with offices in Atlanta, and both have offices in Georgia. So I went to Google Maps, and there’s a way type an IP into a geolocation, and it will give an aerial view of the rough neighborhood where it was used. It’s imprecise, and it can’t narrow it down to a specific address — but it was definitely from a Senate employee, and it was coming from the vicinity of both (Chambliss and Isakson) offices. Isakson almost immediately said, “It wasn’t us!” So then it’s got to be Chambliss.
And you were able to find all of that out by yourself?
Having that information, I thought that — among the field where gays are overrepresented is the IT field. At any given time, there are probably a thousand IT guys reading my site. So I put it out and said, “Go to it, my geeks!” And within 15 minutes, I had about 500 e-mails [confirming] what I’d already surmised, but with much more information — They were still unable to penetrate what computer it came from, because of a pretty rigorous government firewall.
So what did that tell you?
Number one, there is no anonymity on the internet. Number two, don’t say things you don’t want to appear in the New York Times!
What do you want to happen to this person?
I am less concerned about what happens to some underling, whom nobody has ever of and I assure you no one will ever hear of again. I want to hear Senator Chambliss say, in an honest way, that this is no way any Republican or any American should be talking about gay people, particularly in public.
We’re big readers of your blog, where most of the comments are supportive. But surely these kinds of comments are not unusual on gay blogs on the internet?
No, they’re not, it’s not unusual. It’s a wild and wooly world on the internet. Most of us are fairly immunized to this type of hate speech. My blog has the highest comment volume of any gay blog in the county, and I don’t filter the comments, partially because of the sheer volume. I’d have to hire someone who did nothing but that. I can’t think of which can go and which can stay. It’s a double edged sword. Nothing is moderated, but a lot of ass hats get in. I usually leave those for the readers to handle and make me aware of…
I’ve gotten notice, particularly last night and this morning, of anti gay commenters trying to plant comments asking for the physical harm of public figures, so it looks like we’re all doing it. I’m asking my readers, please let me know if you see anyone calling for physical harm, so I can remove them immediately. They’re saying things like “Someone needs to shoot John McCain in the head.” My commenters can be extremely rough on the GOP, but that’s not them talking. That’s trolls trying to make us look bad.
So if you have so much volume, how did you catch this so quickly?
Quite honestly, it was just a fluke that I noticed. I don’t read a lot of my comments, particularly while I’m writing a post. But I do look at things, particularly when I’ve written a lot about a vote — I had just put up a post about the ‘Don’t’ Ask, Don’t Tell’ cloture vote and the roll call, and I thought “I better make sure I got everything right.” And the third or fourth was this comment. I thought, that’s weird. Troll comment usually come in down over a hundred. Someone must have been sitting on the blog, waiting for the ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ vote. But the comment came in within minutes — not a drive-by piece of trollery.
Maybe he was a regular reader, who will come out someday.
Maybe. I looked at his IP on a hunch, which is something I only do once a week, with someone who is persistent.
Can you see if he’d posted before?
You can, and he hasn’t.