Thursday, August 03, 2006

Something doesn't add up

There is something about the gay flag story in Meade, Kansas that just doesn't add up for me folks. I will explain why I'm finding it fishy and why I don't care. But one virtue of a blog is that one can express their thoughts while thinking them through. You can find the story just a little below this one. But in a nutshell a hotel owner puts up a rainbow flag he says his 12 year old son bought when visiting a Wizard of Oz museum. Neighbors are boycotting his hotel and local bigots are upset.

Now I think the flag went up and the bigots are upset. These sorts of cretins are easily upset by such things and if Mr. Knight, the hotel owner, is having them on then I'm all for the fun. But here is what I don't get.

I saw film of the flag. It is no small flag but a proper size flag. Those are not cheap. It could run anywhere from $20 to $50. Not exactly the sort of thing a 12 year old boy would spend allowance money on. And am I to believe that a small Wizard of Oz museum in the same region of Kansas is openly selling the gay flag with out a peep from the local klavern? I actually can't see why the museum would be selling the gay flag at all and being in the same vicinity as the hotel I would think their selling it would rile the wingnuts as well. But apparently no one has noticed or the flag was never sold there to begin with. And even if the boy were a big fan of Oz I have my doubts he be buying a large size rainbow flag suitable for a flagpole. Surely there were other souveniers more in line with the tastes of a 12 year-old.

So I've been searching and trying to make sense out of it all -- after all my reputation is on the line since I blogged about it. Now I came across another blog which says they wrote Knight to applaude his stand and he wrote back saying someone cut the flag down. Very believeable in that silly little town. But something else troubled me. He allegedly also wrote: "As you know our rainbow flag was hung outside of our hotel because we dearly miss our son. It signified to us that he is just over the rainbow and as soon as we can we will all be together again." This makes it sound as if the boy is dead, something that was totally missed in all the news stories on this incident. In fact every story I read makes it sound as if he is very much alive and just recently purchased the flag -- like three weeks ago when it was put up on the pole outside the hotel. He says he will get a new flag and fly it as a "reminder" to his son.

Okay, what is going on here people? How come, if the son had just died, or is gone for someother other reason, this fact has been left out of the stories to date? It is pertinent, if it is true. This is particularly newsworthy, if true, because the boy supposedly purchased the flag and only recently. Afterall the Knights have only been in Kansas for two years. But all the news accounts make it sound as if the boy is alive and purchased the flag very recently. The email supposedly from Knight makes it sound as if the boy is dead. If he is then any such death would have been relatively recent and if that did happen then to attack the flag is even more heartless and cruel than it originally appears. But I sitll can't believe the local Oz museum is selling the gay flag and I find it equally unlikely that a 12 year old boy would purchase it. Both events are not impossible but highly unlikely and together I find them extremely unlikely.

So what do we make of it? In the alleged email from Knight he says: "We might not be able to fix stupid; but it sure is fun taking it apart." The Lakewood Hotel owned by Knight is getting lots of free publicity. Hundreds of references to it already are on the internet and all over the media. Mr. Knight seems like a liberal sort of guy. I'd probably like him. I sure enjoy what he is doing. So I suspect he decided to have fun with the locals. He put the flag up and the controversy started. He told his story of the backlash to the media and the publicity just came pouring in. And in the process he had a lot of fun taking apart stupid, as he put it.

I don't actually mind. The mere fact that the Religious Right is so easily upset, and that such inconsequential things as a brightly colored flag can send them into public fits of rage and anger, is sufficient reason to set them off, now and then, just for the fun of it. So if that is the case I have no hard feelings. I'm not sure everyone will feel the same way and so, in a sad sense, I hope Knight's story is true for his own sake. People don't like being taken advantage of.

But Knight's rhetoric is too on the button. And when I see people saying exactly what their target audience would want to hear I start to look around to see if this real. I do so because life is rarely that neat. People like their morality tales. The Right sends around bogus stories by email all the time. I get them constantly. The Left is not immune to the temptation either. Now there are questions that need answering and I hope they do get answered.

What is the name of the son? Is he alive, dead or missing? When did he buy the flag? Does the local Oz museum actually sell rainbow flags?

Now a blogger shouldn't do this sort of leg work and can't. But where was the TV reporter on this stuff? He interviews the father but not the son. There is no check up to see if the story was true and that the boy really did buy the flag under the circumstances outlined. It should be done. And the biggest question of all is: Is this a publicity stunt? If it is I'm not sure that a lot of gay people will be thrilled. But I'm curious as to what really happened. I hope I'm wrong. If I'm right remember you read it here first.

Update: Please see the post just above this one for the answers to the questions we raised.