It’s a rare day when we feel the need to post a “sticky,” but this issue demands it. It’s an even rarer day we feel compelled to quote Ronald Reagan: “Trust, but verify.”
First, a note to (almost) everyone who’s been blogging about Caleb Hesse:
We’ve been running around like chickens trying to correct a blatantly wrong assumption about Caleb Hesse, the Evangelical Free Church of Yucca Valley youth volunteer who was charged earlier this month with sexually abusing boys (and who has since reportedly recanted his alleged confession, and has pleaded not guilty to all charges).
While countless blogs (and even a few mainstream news sites) have been more than happy to pick up on the story, nobody is listening to us now — and, everyone who has run with the incorrect information — that Hesse is a high-profile “longtime anti-gay activist” who “owns” the ProtectMarriage.com website — is making the entire LGBT blogging community look sloppy, gullible, and just plain bad.
In the wake of this erroneous information being splattered all over the Web, only one blogger has wised up on his own: Jim Burroway of Box Turtle Bulletin. Read Jim’s post, and our reply, reposted here (various links added for clarity, and one typo corrected):
Thanks for posting this, Jim. Maybe people will listen to you — they certainly haven’t listened to me.
I have been trying to get the message out that Hesse is not some high-profile activist, nor does he “own” ProtectMarriage.com. He’s just an anti-gay DONOR, who’s been charged with sexually assaulting boys. Period.
ConBab was (as far as I know) the first to connect Hesse to his Prop H8 donation, and if you follow every subsequent blog post on the story, they all ultimately lead back to our original post.
As you can see, nowhere in that post is any of the erroneous stuff about Hesse being an “activist” or owning PM.com even suggested.
How anyone could possibly have come to the conclusion that Hesse was some big fish in the anti-gay movement — or how any of the “big” sites, like Raw Story, could have run with it without taking an extra 30 seconds to verify — is a mystery… and a shame.
The first thing any good blogger should have done was search for Hesse’s name in any reliable Prop H8 database. After finding the record in our own files, we cross-checked the Calif. Sec’y of State database, and even the L.A. Times database, just to make sure there was an easy way for others to find it online. (You’d think a few readers would want to check it out for themselves, wouldn’t you? Well, we thought so.)
The second thing — upon seeing the suspicious-looking claim that Hesse was some Prop H8 big-wig — any good blogger should have done was to run a WHOIS on ProtectMarriage.com. Jim, you’re probably the only blogger who did that. I can’t believe no one else did!
And this kind of sloppiness (or laziness, or whatever the problem) makes us all look bad.
Anyway, thanks again, Jim. I hope more people listen to you than they did to me.
P.S. If anyone’s wondering why we made the Hesse-Prop H8 connection in the first place, that’s what Conservative Babylon does, and has been doing, since 2003: citing the hypocrisy of the “family values” crowd, particularly when it comes to anti-gays.
Honestly, we were quite surprised when the “big” gay blogs (Back2Stonewall, JMG, etc. — who, it should be noted, did NOT run with the false claims later blogs did) picked up our post on Hesse — which by that time was already ten days old — and ultimately sent us the biggest traffic spike in ConBab’s history.
Frankly, the Hesse story is no big deal to us — it’s typical of the stuff we read about and blog about every day. There are much bigger stories out there, and real anti-gay activists of note, doing things far worse things than what Hesse is accused of doing.
We can’t figure out why this story picked up so much steam — was it the Prop H8 angle? Why didn’t these same blogs go as nuts over the stories of Tommy Gene Daniels (another one whose Prop H8 donation we scooped) or Eugene Ballantyne or Jesse Ruhl? Beats us.
P.P.S. This sort of thing happened in 2008, with our old Lavender Newswire blog: Somebody linked a single word to one our posts as if to suggest we had some inside information about the Obama campaign. We didn’t, of course, and we still haven’t figured out what the “logic” was behind the link, but after the entire PUMA movement had played the game of “Telephone,” suddenly our quite-innocuous post was held up as “proof” of some vast Obama conspiracy. I guess people read into things whatever it is they want most to see.
Now, bloggers… CORRECT YOUR POSTS!
And next time: Trust, but verify.
Related posts (automatically generated):
- Caleb Hesse: Another Anti-Gay Proposition 8 Donor Charged With Sexually Assaulting Numerous Young Boys He Met As Church Youth Volunteer
- Three More Women Accuse Utah Mormon GOP Activist Greg Peterson of Sexual Assault
- Radical Anti-Gay Activist Bill Whatcott Detained for Littering Calgary With Foul-Smelling Garbage
- Grant Storms, Radical Anti-Gay Activist Preacher Who Appeared to Advocate Murder of Gays, Convicted of Public Wanking Near Children’s Playground
- Greg Peterson: Utah Mormon GOP Activist Charged with Kidnapping, Beating & Raping Four Women in Cabin He Used for Political Fundraisers