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Friday, September 19, 2008

A Query for the Train

posted by on September 19 at 14:05 PM

Yesterday I received this email:

Hi, Eli.

I haven’t seen this slogged but I was curious about your thoughts into the investigation into the conductor’s conduct before the commuter train collision in Los Angeles. He was gay and going through a difficult time in his life, including surviving the suicide of his HIV+ partner. Now it looks like he was text messaging teenagers at the time of the crash.

How do you think the gay/pederasty angle will be played in the media?

I guess this question came to me because I’m gay (or maybe because the emailer thinks I’m a pederast) but I’d like to answer as someone who’s at this very moment riding a train that’s speeding along tracks somewhere between Longview and Portland.

My feeling is that anyone responsible for other people’s livesólike the person driving the L.A. train, like the person driving this train I’m on right nowóhas a duty to set his or her sad, sad troubles (and his or her sketchy, sketchy text messages) aside while doing things like, oh, say, driving a train at very high speeds. You don’t get a pass on this kind of stuff just because you’re gay and having a rough time, and if you fail to do this you shouldn’t get extra blame in the media just because you’re gay and having a rough time.

Just drive the trains right, people. Please. That includes you, person at the helm of this here Amtrak.

RSS icon Comments


But can I use this single, isolated incident of a gay person exhibiting irresponsible behavior that killed people, with no corresponding contrast to the behavior of straight people, as representative? Pleeeeeease? Pretty please?

Posted by Right-Wing Pundit | September 19, 2008 2:19 PM

It would be lame if somebody started blogging Gay Train Conductor Watch or Every Child Deserves a Gay Train Conductor or Those Passengers Were Asking to Die in a Train with a Gay Conductor. Because no matter how many news stories they can find like that, it doesn't prove anything, does it?

Posted by elenchos | September 19, 2008 2:28 PM

Does he mean the engineer instead of the conductor? The conductor is the one who takes tickets, etc. The engineer is the guy driving the train. I thought it was the engineer that was texting when the train crashed. I don't get it.

Posted by arborheightist | September 19, 2008 2:33 PM

His texts -- which were so obviously wrong to be doing from a practical standpoint, it's mind-boggling -- were not "sketchy". The teens are train enthusiasts who regarded him as a mentor and they were all friends because there ain't that many potential train professionals and there ain't that many train engineers. He wasn't a youth pastor, for crying out loud.

You weren't really equating gay with child molestor, were you?

Posted by whatevernevermind | September 19, 2008 2:45 PM

Wow, all those people die and this guy can only think of himself and his poor, poor, gay community.

Posted by Eek, a mouse! | September 19, 2008 2:48 PM

Elenchos @ 2: No, it doesn't prove anything. (The "gay/pederasty angle"?! WTF?!) But it would be amusing to see Dan Savage do an endless series of posts on train disasters caused by heterosexual drivers.

Posted by David Wright | September 19, 2008 3:04 PM

I could care less what hole this guy pokes his pole into - you don't text while you're driving ANYTHING. It's total fuckery that people are so IM-reliant that they have to do it RIGHT now, at all costs, no matter what their primary responsibility at the time is.

Posted by I sound like my dad, but... | September 19, 2008 3:29 PM

Dear letter writer: stop being a concern troll.

Posted by Greg | September 19, 2008 4:04 PM

actually the people most likely to text and drive are

a. type a sales people
b. young women
c. gabby hand fags

Posted by Bellevue Ave | September 19, 2008 4:52 PM

Reminds me of the excuses provided to the dude that crashed the Staten Island Ferry about 5 or 6 years ago. "He was depressed...on medication..." Fuck you, man. These people were drinking/drugging/texting while DRIVING. Other PEOPLE. I don't think sexual orientation has anything to do with it.

Posted by gracynyc | September 19, 2008 5:34 PM

I live in the county where this train was headed & this is the first I've heard of these details. If this were going to be an issue with the media, they would have pounced a long time ago.

Posted by blackbird76 | September 19, 2008 7:27 PM

eli sanders is gay?

Posted by mike | September 19, 2008 8:13 PM


Posted by Lawks a Lordy | September 20, 2008 11:05 AM

Trouble ahead, lady in red,
Take my advice youd be better off dead.
Switchmans sleeping, train hundred and two is
On the wrong track and headed for you.

Driving that train, high on cocaine,
Casey jones is ready, watch your speed.
Trouble ahead, trouble behind,
And you know that notion just crossed my mind.

Trouble with you is the trouble with me,
Got two good eyes but you still dont see.
Come round the bend, you know its the end,
The fireman screams and the engine just gleams...

Posted by Workingman's Dead | September 20, 2008 12:44 PM

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