The Town Hall presidential debate’s darling wasn’t either candidate or the moderators. It was Ken Bone, an unassuming man reminiscent of a character in Mike Judge’s film “Office Space.” He asked the candidates a question about their stance on how they’d balance a need for sustainable energy while minimizing job layoffs.
For a brief, shining moment, Ken Bone was America’s Superhero. Major media outlets declared him “the man who won the second presidential debate.” Costume stores and internet forums started shopping around for the perfect Ken Bone Halloween costume. People on Twitter lauded him for his “realness.” They enjoyed his use of a disposable camera while capturing the night’s events. Bone even landed a promotional deal with Uber as a result of his overnight fame.
Then, just as soon as the love began, the Internet Outrage Machine cranked up to full throttle, and Ken Bone was Burned. Now, a Google search of his name returns the following headlines:
“Ken Bone Is Actually Kind Of An Awful Guy”
“Ken Bone’s Disturbing Reddit History Shows He’s Not Nearly as Adorable as We Thought.”
“Ken Bone Forgot to Delete His Reddit Porn Comments, Said Trayvon Martin Killing Was ‘Justified'”
“Ken Bone Leaves Seedy Comment Trail on Reddit.”
How did all of this happen? Easy. William Turton, a “journalist” for Gizmodo, looked into Bone’s Reddit posting history, and posted his favorite finds. When Bone attempted an AMA (ask me anything) on Reddit, the Outrage Machine cranked into full throttle over his thoughts on Jennifer Lawrence’s physique, his personal opinion of Trayvon Martin, and more. It’s nothing out of the ordinary. All comments are things you’ve probably heard in the past from friends, neighbors, or relatives. You may not have liked them or found them personally suited to your tastes.
This doesn’t matter to those who want to virtue signal their way through life, attempting the lock-step correct thoughts and actions of those who march in the social justice traveling band. Once something a blogger found as potentially offensive to the sensibilities of those who call themselves “oppressed” and “marginalized” the bait was set. All the mob needed were someone to sharpen the pitchforks and light the torches.
Since I began writing this post, it appears as if cooler heads are starting to prevail. Forbes published an op-ed attempting to remind everyone that Ken Bone is a human just like the rest of us. The contributor, Fruzsina Eordogh, opined his rise and fall as an internet star was a symptom of just how divisive this election cycle had become. She remarked it was the public’s choice to hate him, instead of remembering Ken Bone as “just one confused and overweight man, and not some corporate, media, or self-projected manifestation…just one man, not worth being mad about.”
Maybe Eordogh’s right. Maybe we shouldn’t have to worry about destroying the life of a man who dared ask a question about a subject that mattered to him during a town hall style presidential debate. Maybe making a person into an “internet sensation” and then tearing apart his life is out of order. There’s even a good possibility people will see the way Ken Bone was treated and refrain from ever participating in the political process again. That’s not something we want, and maybe it’s time to actually return to civility in the way we address one another.
Wait, there’s a second page on this Forbes story I hadn’t seen yet. Let me click through to it.
Just to save you a few clicks, the links in that block quote go back to some of the headlines referenced earlier. So Forbes’ Eordogh doesn’t really even believe the words she penned for the site. She took time to pen out her required word count and then added a disclosure calling him “dumb” and referencing the sources attempting to dehumanize Ken Bone. Way to go, “journalism.”