For pretty much the entire history of journalism, the progression from news to story has gone as such: News breaks, reporter asks questions, answers to those questions are synthesized into a story. But an off-the-radar singer-songwriter spewing virulent hate in a city renowned for its tolerance makes for the type of story that prompts more questions with each turn. That’s the main takeaway from Spin’s winding postmortem on the anti-gay remarks Michelle Shocked delivered at a San Francisco club this past Sunday, a story that only gets murkier with every attempt to clarify what was said and why it was said. In his attempt to cut through the game of Internet telephone that sprung up around the incident, author Rob Trucks was stymied by Shocked, who instead offered up Sunday School lessons, thoughts on being “held captive by social media,” and an impenetrable analogy about debt relief involving a bull, a matador, and a red flag. Coming from a source so interested in “the conversation,” the transcript jumps around an awful lot; it’s a tough read, one that suggests Shocked isn’t in the proper state of mind to understand the severity and implications of her statements. Rather than piece the story together from secondhand accounts, Trucks went looking for a primary account—and though he didn’t get his answers directly, the long, rambling Q&A obliquely explains how someone would think “Would somebody please tweet, ‘Michelle Shocked said God hates faggots’” is an okay thing to say into a microphone in 2013. (As of publishing time, that’s still an ugly, hateful thing to say.)
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