Charlie Mas, who blogs with other folks at Save Seattle Schools and ran unsuccessfully for the school board, made a lot of people upset by saying something un-nice on the internet. Slog tipper Donna wrote by e-mail, he "has made the most vile, cruel comment about Cheryl Chow's coming out." As you may know, Chow—who served on the Seattle Public Schools board and the Seattle City Council—has terminal brain cancer, and she recently came out as a lesbian with the sage advice, "Parents and kids, don't be afraid of saying that you're gay. I was afraid for over 60 years and those 60 years were wasted." Wonderful, right?
Now the school board plans to make a proclamation about Chow at its Wednesday meeting. What does Mas think about that?
"I'm not sure what proclamation the Board wants to make for Cheryl Chow," he wrote in a weekend post about the board's lack of transparency. "Will they congratulate her for coming out? Is this going to be a practice of theirs, to congratulate people for telling the world about their sexuality?"
Now, as the comment thread shows, a lot of people are very angry about this (Donna wrote, "I know your paper has often called for a public response to out-of-state gay-bashers and I hope Charlie is worthy of some response from you"), so I asked Mas and Save Seattle Schools lead blogger Melissa Westbrook what they thought. Westbrook e-mailed back their statements and I've posted 'em after the jump:
Charlie Mas is a brilliant thinker but sometimes can be clumsy in his words to the point of boorishness and insensitivity. I regret that he did not choose his words in this thread more carefully but he was making a point about the Board and its actions and NOT about Cheryl Chow. Indeed, when Ms. Chow first made her public statement, our blog wrote a thread acknowledging her long public service and our sadness for her illness. Our blog has consistently spoken out for the rights of LGBT students, teachers and staff in Seattle Schools and will continue to do so.
I don’t think that it is an inherently bad idea to thank people for a lifetime of service while they are still around to receive the gratitude. It is a good idea. It is not, however, the District’s standard practice. If it were the District’s standard practice, then there would be several thousand other people who would be in line for those thanks ahead of Ms Chow. I’m not saying that it isn’t nice that they are doing it for her. I’m saying that it is extraordinary - which is indisputably true - and that if they are going to start doing this for people they have a long list of folks who should be likewise honored. I have looked though the past eight years of board meetings looking for a similar proclamation, but could not find one.
What Mas wrote was stupid and insensitive, this is true. But I don't think it was "cruel" or on par with "gay-bashers." He's been an outspoken critic of the school board for years, and, it seems to me, he was mostly trying to badger the board members (but he accidentally put his foot ankle-deep in his mouth as he did it).