The Daily Caller dismissed as “re-education camp” a University of Mississippi forum to address anti-gay hate speech in the wake of an incident of homophobic harassment, running an image from the film A Clockwork Orange to accompany the story.
During an October 1 performance at Ole Miss of The Laramie Project, a play about Matthew Shepard's murder, a group of football players disrupted the play by shouting “fag” and other homophobic epithets. According to The Daily Mississippian, the players were attending the performance to fulfill a theater credit. In response to the incident, the pro-LGBT campus organization Allies will host an “educational dialogue session,” which everyone present at the October 1 performance will attend.
In an October 8 article, Daily Caller education editor Eric Owens dubbed the forum a “re-education session.” Unable to determine what the big deal was, Owens lampooned the decision to hold the dialogue over audience members “voicing anti-gay slurs and laughing at the wrong times” :
The University of Mississippi will now force all students who attended a play about murdered gay student Matthew Shepard to go to a re-education session because a few unidentified audience members disrupted the performance by voicing anti-gay slurs and laughing at the wrong times, reports The Commercial Appeal.
The Ole Miss administration had charged a six-person Bias Incident Response Team with determining exactly which students (or non-students) disrupted a university theater production of “The Laramie Project,” a play based on reaction to the 1998 torture and murder of Shepard, a student who attended the University of Wyoming.
The Bias Incident Response Team failed in this endeavor, concluding in a statement that “the task of identifying specific individuals who were purported to have disrupted the performance is difficult because of the dark theatre.”
Last week, reports The Appeal, a group of football players apologized for what happened. However, a number of actors apparently believed that the players “didn't realize what it was that they were apologizing for.”
Owens suggested that it wasn't clear that the football players in attendance were responsible, but according to USA Today, a house manager indicated that the athletes shouted the slurs. The Daily Mississippian reported that after the athletic department instructed the football players to apologize to the cast, the team dispatched “one undisclosed football player” to apologize “on behalf of the entire group.”
For The Daily Caller, Owens was a natural choice to tackle the story. He's the website's go-to apologist for anti-LGBT bullies, having mocked transgender high school students “running for homecoming king, queen, whatever," dismissing transgender students' fight for appropriate bathroom access as a demand for “special treatment,” and poking fun at a bullied transgender student's video about facing transphobic bullying as an “interminable” “YouTube meltdown.”
Given his own apparent cyber-bully tendencies, it's hardly surprising that Owens sympathizes more with the students being “forced” to attend a discussion on bigotry than with the vulnerable populations that suffer its consequences.