Scott: Local leaders have fallen flat during Twittergate scandal
Published: Monday, October 15, 2012
Updated: Monday, October 15, 2012 23:10
Imagine telling a joke, a long joke that takes setting up the punch line in a perfect and concentrated way. Just as you’re about to hit the listeners with the moment they’ve all been waiting for, in walks the subject of the punch line itself in a real and ironic way, doing the things you’re making fun of it for.
That’s what our local leaders in Walker County are doing with the investigation into parody Twitter accounts of Huntsville City Council members. These accounts, which poke fun at councilmen like Keith Olson, Don Johnson, Lydia Montgomery and Clyde Loll, have been around for over a year and tweets often come during the city council meetings, satirizing the council and pegging them as largely incompetent buffoons.
Actually, @FakeKeithOlson is already lending his opinion on the Twitter probe:
“I believe the investigation into fake Twitters is ‘serious business.’ In other news, $1.4 million deficit & a 10.5% tax-hike go unnoticed.”
Or how about the parody account’s thoughts on homecoming?
“I’ve been waiting for Homecoming week all year. It’s the week all those pesky #shsu students finally go home, right?”
That’s a jab at Olson’s “anti-student” reputation, which can be traced back to being against an SHSU-exclusive city ward during the redistricting process last year. Same was the case with Johnson and Montgomery. Sometimes the jokes on the parody accounts toe the line of being inappropriate, which I personally find hilarious. Usually, though, it’s just a bunch of goofy, harmless humor for someone who might spend too much time following the snooze fest that is city government (the most impactful and essential form of government for individuals, by the way).
So how did this cornball of a city council respond after having enough of these satirical tweets? By taking the matter to the Walker County District Attorney’s Office. No, I’m serious. People who are supposed be making the important decisions in the city went to the office that’s supposed to be prosecuting real crimes in the county, and complained about being made fun of. And on Twitter, nonetheless.
Not only that, but instead of District Attorney David Weeks – obviously a man who studied law and should be familiar with the First Amendment of the Constitution – informing them of how absurd any claims of illegal activity would be, he took it to the real life Texas Rangers. Not Walker Texas Ranger. Not the Texas Rangers that you hoped would be in the World Series this season (the one Nolan Ryan runs) but the actual Texas Rangers.
Apparently they’ve been investigating Twittergate since August. Weeks went to the Rangers instead of local law enforcement to avoid an obvious conflict of interest but he wanted to see if tweets violated harassment laws.
Maybe it’s just me, but it sounds like this story involves a lot of people who don’t use the Internet very often or perhaps don’t have good reception on whatever farm they live on.
And guess what? The Texas Rangers are actually investigating it. Check and mate.
Let’s just point out that this chain of events make those parody accounts seem far more genius and spot on in its message than originally perceived.
The purpose of the accounts was just to have fun at the council’s expense. What ended up happening as a result of the council’s response to the accounts and the subsequent responses of law enforcers, the point the accounts were trying to make in a subtle way have been brought to the forefront of the broader conversation that I know the makers of those accounts have been longing to have.
That starts with a simple question for what seems to be really simple folks: do the people at City Hall have a clue, and anyone else in leadership positions around here, for that matter?