Dirtbag Racist Firefighter Demoted For Idiotic Facebook Rant About Travyon Martin

Illustration for article titled Dirtbag Racist Firefighter Demoted For Idiotic Facebook Rant About Travyon Martin

Usually we get pretty upset when someone gets in trouble at work or school for a status update or tweet. But this Florida firefighter got what he deserved after posting a racist rant on Facebook about Travyon Martin's parents.

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Miami-Dade Fire Captain Brian Beckmann was demoted to the lowly rank of Firefighter after posting a hateful status update about Trayvon Martin, the Florida teen who was recently shot and killed in an incident many attribute to racism. Beckmann's rant—wherein he implied that Martin's parents are "failed, shitbag, ignorant, pathetic, [and] welfare dependent." The post was captured by The Grio before the racist public servent could delete it:

Illustration for article titled Dirtbag Racist Firefighter Demoted For Idiotic Facebook Rant About Travyon Martin
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Given that the case is already racially charged, this didn't go over too well. Beckmann's language is deplorable and so loaded with racial bias even if it's not explicitly stated that some people are surprised he wasn't fired. Besides the demotion, the Miami Herald reports that "Beckmann will be on administrative leave and must complete a psychological evaluation and diversity training before he returns." Beckmann has both appealed the decision and apologized for his remarks.

If you want to be a bigot in your private life, go right ahead, but if you broadcast those feelings to the world on Facebook, Twitter or in any other way, you should expect to feel the pain back—especially if you're a public servant. Expressing hateful and hurtful opinions is not the same as expressing controversial ones. Freedom of speech does not mean freedom to be an asshole and get away with it. [Miami Herald and The Grio]

Image from Miami-Dade Fire Rescue via CBS4

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DISCUSSION

That isn't racist. Sorry, it just isn't. It may have been unwise to post, and it may have contained some unfair generalizations, but it wasn't racist. That case was already tried in the court of public opinion. It was completely overblown, considering attacks like that happen daily. Why did that killing become the focus of national attention? Right place, right time. Dumb luck. There was nothing extraordinary about it. But people were primed to be pissed about it, no matter what. Anything less than a glowing review of the victim and a call for pitchforks and torches was seen as racially motivated hate. Anything less than immediate indictment of Mr. Z was taken as Rodney King: The Sequel.

Personally, I think the people in the front lines, like this firefighter, provide valuable insight into a culture (note that culture is not the same as race) that most of the press have no clue about. So while the papers whip the public into a frenzy, those men and women see a bigger picture. That story was only special for one reason: it sold copy. The press didn't care about the killing, it was selling papers. Meanwhile, anyone that dare offer a counter-opinion is blacklisted; Made an example out of.

This guy may be a an idiot for posting his feelings on FB, but he is still entitled to an opinion on a job he performs daily. In real life. Not in movies or magazines... real life. Every Damn. Day. But what he said is on the wrong side of the meme du jour, so we just dismiss it and assume we all know better. Because we read it somewhere.

My Sociology prof. always said stereotypes are based on fact. Ugly as that is, there is always a trend before there is a stereotype. Honest people recognize it and admit it's true. And that's the first step toward dealing with them properly. Instead of pretending they are all unfair characterizations, we need to admit they are based on a trend and if we want to stop the stereotype, we must first stop the trend. And we must give everyone equal opportunity to NOT live up to the stereotype. But we don't ignore it was initially based on *something*.

We could learn a lot listening to the men and women in the trenches. It may be ugly at times, sure. Who knows, maybe we could spot some trends that need correcting. But we'll never correct them if we can't first admit they exist legitimately.

That man's comments are a combination of frustration and daily experience with the trends; the facts that the stereotypes are based on. IMO, ignoring that vantage point is actually setting progress back a step.