The Marcolian's coverage of discovery of anti-gay Web sites created by Marietta College students
On December 1, 1998, following the murder of Matthew Shepard and prior to the murderous Columbine High School rampage, GayToday brought the attention of its readers to a college-based anti-gay hate site on the Internet, exposing the advice of at least one student—at Marietta College in Ohio—about how to kill gay men and lesbians using his "sporting" weapon of choice, the baseball bat.
This expose rocked Marietta College to its foundations. In the current issue of its newspaper, The Marcolian, GayToday's investigative report was voted by the student body as having resulted in their "Top Story" of the school year, 1998-99. (See The Marcolian—"Top Story" www.marietta.edu/~marc/index.html )
The Marcolian explains: "We asked our readers to vote on the most important story of the year from Marietta College. The winner was published in the Dec. 3, 1998, issue of The Marcolian. One survey respondent selected this story because it touched upon two 'national' news topics -- the struggle for gay and lesbian civil rights and free speech codes on campus."
Marietta College moved into action following GayToday's coverage. The suspect, Doug Wickert, quickly removed his own web page from his Angelfire server which likely would have done so on its own. Because he'd also mis-used Marietta College e-mailing privileges, school officials revoked those privileges.
In February, however, Wickert—who'd already dropped out of Marietta—was found "not guilty" of discriminatory harassment. The Marcolian reported that the former student had received what amounted to what some felt was a mere slap on the wrist:
"Former Marietta College student Doug Wickert was found not in violation of discriminatory harassment by the Student Conduct Board, although he was sanctioned for two other charges."
Doug Wickert exposed in the pages of The Marcolian
The Marcolian reported that Wickert had pleaded no contest to a charge of misuse of college property and had been found in violation of "disregard for the concerns of others."
Wickert, said the college newspaper, had been charged-- following the Nov. 30 discovery of the "defamatory web page he had created. Though the page was on the Angelfire server rather than the college's, Wickert referred specifically to Marietta College, and used his college e-mail address on the page."
Wickert's site, explained Jaime Cleland, the Marcolian's Editor-in-Chief, "which he described as satirical, suggested beating homosexuals with baseball bats and stated that people who disagree with his viewpoint 'have a major problem in their train of thought that I must clarify. The problem is that they view homosexuals as people.'
Wickert's idea of satire had been captured on his Gay Basher's Home Page:
The Gay Basher's Home Page
"One time we played a lone queer who we had gathered evidence on a few days earlier. We took around eighteen batters with us and they all wanted a hit so we took turns.
"The queer was senseless on by the third batter but the whole line had to get a whack, this dragged the game out a little too long. Some people who play this version of the game like to take a silenced gun with them just in case they need to end the game quickly….
" Rubber suit, Rubber gloves, shower cap or helmet—these things provide an easy way to wash the juices off your body and they also protect you from the risk of getting AIDS from the bleeding queer."
The fellow with this fantasy--Marietta's then-student, Doug Wickert, is adjudged by The Marcolian as having had an "inflammatory" web site. Mmmm. Perceptive.
Marietta's President, Larry Wilson, forced into making a statement denouncing Wickert's site was unable to bring himself to use the "G" word (Gay) but said at first what seemed painfully obvious: "It has not put the college in a good light."
Gay men and lesbians, in his official statement, were referred to as "certain members of our society." He wrote:
"a small group of wanna-be-machos" at "an Ohio school more passe than Mary Hartman!, Mary Hartman! , Fernwood Tonight, and WKRP Cinncinatti."
The Marcolian attempted, in its coverage, however, to walk a careful line between Ohio students who felt the hate site should be free-speech protected and those, in the school's administrative offices, who felt Wickert's tirades were intolerable.
The Marcolian put no focus, however, on GayToday's references to macho role-conditioning included in a sub-headline in the first of its exposes. The sub-headline had read:
"Macho Belt Buckle Will Snap if Gays are Tolerated, They Fear"
I can only hope that well-meaning Marietta College officials, the esteemed Editor-in-Chief of The Marcolian, or any of the macho-moron meatheads still loose even in such esteemed colleges as is Marietta, may someday grasp what's behind this sub-headline. Let me explain it, just in case it can be understood:
Homophobic violence is a byproduct of hyped macho male roles instilled through scare-words that are used by parents and peers.
Tracking such violence it becomes clear that the belt buckle of the macho code is homophobia. The principal macho code enforcement technique involves the social use of hellfire-scare-words like "sissy", "fag" and "wus".
Unbuckle the macho code—remove the hellfire stigma of same-sex attraction-- and the macho code loses the "sissy" "fag" labels it throws about by which to insure male crowd-control.
Macho posturing is a hangover from hand-to-hand combat times when tribal societies were in need of fierce warriors to survive. Now that women fly combat planes, warrioring no longer suffices as a sufficient proof of masculinity.
As distinct ways of unnecessarily proving masculinity fade from the male experience while at the same time the macho code does not, punching one's fellows becomes all or almost all there is left—short of genital exposure--for a male to "prove" he's not a woman.
Warrioring, however, is, like hunting, obsolete at the end of the 20th century, yet it persists, especially in the boondocks.
And when Daddy engages his year-old son at the table, proposing a game of fisticuffs, and says "Put up your dukes," it's then that a kind of primitive paranoid interior-warrior is shaped, possibly to become a half-wit who, at any given moment, can step into our lives armed with his highest calling, namely to beat or shoot all enemies, real or imagined.
Male role-conditioning inverts religious ethics such as "turn the other cheek".
Lao Tzu said quite a mouthful when he advised: "The man of sure fitness never makes an act of it," while the poet of Democracy, Walt Whitman, vowed he'd never rest satisfied until he saw men--in America--walking hand in hand.
This already happens in lands where happier heterosexually-inclined males are allowed to show their emotional attachments to each other without being challenged at every turn as traitors to their sex.
A question for The Marcolian: If an expose of this inflammatory site had not been published, could "Marietta" have become the signal word that's bandied about in today's media instead of "Columbine"?
An examination of the drawbacks of "respectable" male roles, not censorship, is what's needed if homophobic or just "male" violence is to cease. But how many worriers are willing to attack conventional machismo head-on? Is The Marcolian prepared?
Is the gay press itself?
Jack Nichols is author of The Gay Agenda: Talking Back to the Fundamentalists (Prometheus Books, Inc.) GayToday's readers may order this cloth-bound book for $18.87, a 30% discount off of the regular price of $24.95. Of The Gay Agenda, John Loughery, author of the award-winning 20th century history classic, The Other Side of Silence, said: "With all the passion of his heroes, Walt Whitman and Thomas Paine, Nichols is the individual with a wide view, grounded in both literature and activism. He not only talks back to the fundamentalists, he talks back to us…above all about the dignity of our struggle."
To Order: Call Prometheus Books 1-800-421-0351 Mention GayToday for the discount.