I’m shocked and a little shaken by something going on in a Congressional district far, far away from my own, here on on the Upper West Side of Manhattan. I wouldn’t have noticed if I hadn’t decided a couple of weeks ago to follow @MikeFlynn14. I don’t remember why I chose to follow Mike, or how our paths crossed, but it was clear to me his politics were sympatico to mine, in the #occupyWallStreet domain of the spectrum. A couple of nights ago, this Tweet from Mike caught my eye:
That certainly looked like a slur to me from this David Secor, whoever he was. I clicked through to Secor’s Twitter page expecting to find a Tea Party member and was surprised to find a Congressional candidate instead. For some reason, Secor doesn’t make his party affiliation terribly clear in his self-description (“House Candidate CA D-50.” You can easily miss the D there, as I did) but the politics he promotes there (“End Gridlock, Xtremist Control. GetMoneyOut! I take NO $ over $100! JOBS, ProtectRights4ALL,Women+,Vets+,PubEd+,Build USA RTs a +”) were confusingly left of center for someone who seemed to have just sent a homophobic taunt over Twitter.
I tweeted to Secor:
It turns out the offender was indeed running for Congress in California’s 50th district, which lies in San Diego. Secor won a primary in June to run as a Democrat against one of the most reactionary and entrenched members of the Republican House delegation, Duncan Hunter, best known for his rabid anti-immigration and pro-military stances. If I were from San Diego and didn’t know any better, I’d have no trouble pulling the lever for Secor. Unfortunately for the Democrat, I do know better now.
What precipitated this schoolyard taunt, I learned from combing over the timeline, was a conversation Flynn was having with others about the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012, a subject that I imagine would make a lot of Democrats and Obama supporters who know about it uncomfortable–for good reason. Included in the act is the notorious Section 1021, which affirms the authority of the president to detain, as Wikipedia has it
any person (including U.S. citizens) “who was part of or substantially supported al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or associated forces that are engaged in hostilities against the United States or its coalition partners”, and anyone who commits a “belligerent act” against the U.S. or its coalition allies in aid of such enemy forces, under the law of war, “without trial, until the end of the hostilities authorized by the [AUMF]”. The text authorizes trial by military tribunal, or “transfer to the custody or control of the person’s country of origin”, or transfer to “any other foreign country, or any other foreign entity”.
Soon after Obama signed the act into law last January, a group of activists that includes Noam Chomsky, Daniel Ellsberg and Chris Hedges, sued to overturn it in U.S. District Court in New York, arguing that the language was unclear and could easily invite an overly broad interpretation. The presiding judge in that case, Obama appointee Katherine Forrest, was sympathetic. The day after the eleventh anniversary of 9/11, Judge Forrest ruled Section 1021 unconstitutional. This invited the wrath of the Obama administration’s Justice Department, which won a temporary emergency stay of Forrest’s ruling by a three-judge panel. According to Nick Pinto of the Village Voice:
The appeals panel listed several reasons for granting the stay this week: Firstly, the explicit confirmation by the government in its motion for a stay that “based on their stated activities,” plaintiffs, “journalists and activists[,] . . . are in no danger whatsoever of ever being captured and detained by the U.S. military.” That explicit commitment had been conspicuously absent in arguments before the lower court.
The panel reasoned that though the NDAA allows for the indefinite detention of citizens without civil trial, it doesn’t affect our rights, because it says it doesn’t.
Lastly, the panel writes that Judge Katherine Forrest’s original ruling goes beyond overturning the NDAA provisions to actually affect the original Authorization for Use of Military Force, signed the week after 9/11. Government lawyers have argued all along that the NDAA and the AUMF are functionally identical. Judge Forrest had taken pains in her ruling to distinguish the two, noting critical language that’s brand-new in the NDAA: it’s application to people who have “substantially supported,” or, later, “directly supported,” Al Qaeda, the Taliban, or “associated forces.”
This fresh decision is on the minds of a lot of people on Twitter, on left and right, among Marxists, peace activists and Ron Paulists. To raise awareness about it beyond the anti-imperial “fringes,” Anonymous hacktvists planned (I’m not sure if they succeeded) to hijack some tweets about last night’s presidential debates (which apparently set records) and land #NDAA2012 and links to videos about it in the “trending” list on Twitter user’s home pages.
My friend Mike Flynn was conversing with a Twitter member who calls him or herself @NDAA2012 [Update: In a comment below, NDAA2012 identifies himself as Randy L. Dixon Rivera] when CA-50 Congressional candidate David Secor, out of the blue, chimed in, ” Gents – I’m running 4 Congress vs Duncan Hunter (CA D-50). He was on committee shaping NDAA 2012. Dope.” Were it I who had been approached out of the blue by someone saying he was running against Hunter, I’d have been quite a bit more interested than Flynn, whose reply was, “Yeah, so?”
Flynn explained his cool reception to the unfortunate interloper this way (multiple tweets condensed into one for easier reading, all spelling and grammar in the original):
“3 words that make my walls fly up and instant mistrust ‘I’m runnuing ‘4’ Oh wait! lemme guess. Your a good guy and American. and since we were gov’t bashing you jus had to jump in and try to campaign us? Is that it? That’s very, VERY political of you. No, that’s NOT a compliment. Just so your know….the American gov’t is in the process of falling. If you want to be a part of that knock yerself out… but please go do that someplace else. Unless you can give me usable info go campaign someplace else. I’m in interested. Had you actually done your research and put some thought into it you would have realized BAD time to interject.
Since your kind like polls so much lets do a instapoll..HEY Anyone on twitter want to have David campaign them Anyone at all”
I don’t know if Secor interjected another word to that point until his offensive reply reproduced above. “@MikeFlynn14 Since your kind likes poles go to your favorite gay bar and enjoy.”
I don’t think anyone can accuse Flynn of lacking a sense of humor. I don’t know if the same can be said for Secor. But after the candidate had shoved off, blocking Flynn (and me) from his Twitter account, it began to sink in, as Flynn put it, that Secor had just told him “to go get fucked! ROFLMAO (ohh if only I could)”
Just today, I learned from Flynn that Secor e-mailed him an “apology” (reproduced in toto below):
I do apologize for the intensity of my response. My only reason, not to be confused with excuse, is I take this entry into politics, the incompetent ideologue we now endure and may well continue to endure, very seriously.
I do feel for the guy, groping his way through the dark on this, his first (apparently) political campaign, but after making a homophobic taunt to a stranger, is this really a sufficient response? (David Secor, Google Jason Alexander for the model of an apology for homophobic miscommunication.) It honestly pains me to think about what a mess he got himself into with so little thought and care, and it’s painfully apparent how little thought and care he’s continuing to give it. I know he can’t be a bad guy–no one who has the kinds of values he talks about on his website can be all bad. But it’s this ugly little hidden value that came out in a moment of anger that is coming back to bite him now. And he’s just dug himself even deeper. To Flynn’s unsympathetic reply –after calling him a “a power grubbin’ money pilferin’ politician,” (which may have been a little heavy handed, Mike ;-) ), he implored Secor “to get back on twitter and apologize [to] the LGBT community” (of which Flynn is a member, it should be stated clearly)–Secor came back with this inexcusable vitriol:
It doesn’t matter to me what you say, think or as here, imagine. You leave the impression that prior to you saying so, I could possibly have known or even guessed that you are gay. I would not direct such a comment to a man I knew was gay.
This may come as a shock to you, but straight men do throw such comments at each other. I don’t suppose there is anything similar occurring in the gay community. You are not the “victim” you pretend to be. You’re just a howling childish ass.
David, I’m straight and don’t throw and never have thrown such comments at anybody, though I know it’s prevalent among my confreres. And just because it’s prevalent doesn’t make it ok. If you’re running to represent all of the people of San Diego, including the LGBTQ members of it, you really should know better. (Especially if your stepson is gay, as you told Mike Flynn, you should know better!) But if you want another chance in politics, one thing you definitely should not do is write anyone anything like the following paragraphs:
Your initial unsolicited responses to my tweets deriding me, and dismissing my campaign against Duncan Hunter II (who an un-informed self-possessed taunt-addict like yourself wouldn’t know, is a genuine front-line homophobe), show that regardless of your sexual orientation, you are just an egocentric yet self-loathing, derisive worm.
A 44-year-old adult of any persuasion that acts like a 15-year-old is not worthy of respect. A gay man behaving as you do is harmful to the LGBT community, which I am sure does not endorse nor appreciate an adult member mindlessly throwing juvenile barbs on Twitter for his personal enjoyment. Both straight and gay cyber-bullies are the same – the first to attack, actually seeking out opportunities to insult and demean. You and your kind, gay or straight, are who need to be held accountable. I pity any young person coming out who might encounter someone like you and adopt your acerbic attitude, juvenile behavior, and venom-filled worldview. You are a sick man.
Toward the close of the correspondence, Secor offers advice to Flynn that he really should take himself:
I’m finished with you. You may respond if it is therapeutic, but I won’t read your responses. It’s best, easiest to write one more good one, pretend I read it and was filled with remorse, guilt and shame. Then let it go, and start on someone new.
That’s all I care to reproduce from candidate Secor’s communication. He may be surprised and chagrined to know it’s now public record. If so, welcome to the 21st century.
It doesn’t look like Secor has much of a chance against Hunter anyway. The whole mess is depressing to me, emblematic of our diseased nation’s diseased heart. It’s depressing because nothing is going to change with this election. Hunter, who not only supports and has power to help enact federal homophobic policies like the Defense of Marriage Act and Don’t Ask Don’t Tell but who also is one of those most responsible for the NDAA’s Section 1021, is not going anywhere. His Democratic opponent, no matter how good his other values, is careless and thoughtless enough to get himself deeply involved in petty battles on the Internet wielding homophobic words as a weapon.
But there is a bright side. There’s the work Mike Flynn and @NDAA2012 are involved in on Twitter, talking about the evil that our constutional government does in our name and carrying on the struggle against it using the power with which they’ve endowed themselves: the power to act.