Let me get you up to speed: Gaetz, R-Niceville, apologized Friday for using hanging imagery in reference to lawsuits challenging new maps for legislative and congressional districts approved Thursday by the Senate. “My father used to say, ‘Some people would complain if you hung them with a new rope,'” Gaetz said Thursday according to the News Service of Florida, referring to his belief that some groups planned to sue no matter what maps the Legislature drew.
On Friday, Gaetz apologized after three black lawmakers angrily said the remarks were insensitive.
Bottom-line, I believe Don Gaetz didn’t mean to offend. He is nothing if not an honorable man. If he’s sorry, I think we should take him at his word and leave it at that.
But this misdirection was silly. “I come from cowboy country in the upper Midwest where horse thieves were viewed as a low form of life, and stealing a person’s horse 150 years ago in my home country was almost a capital offense,” Gaetz said. “It was in that context that my father made the comment.”
Really, we’re suppose to understand a colloquialism from cowboy country circa 1860?
Gaetz’ effort to explain away his comment is just as silly as CNN commentator Roland Martin attempting to rationalize his potentially homophobic comments on Twitter as simply “cracks on soccer.”
Now, I don’t believe Martin is any more homophobic than I think Gaetz is racist. Still, it’s probably not a smart idea for a prominent African American member of the media to make comments that could be at all interpreted as anti-gay, just as it’s probably not a smart idea for a politician from north Florida to make comments that involve the words “hanging” or “rope.”
Both men made stupid comments and deserved to be rebuked. But they also deserved to be allowed to move on.