Yesterday, a video of a woman testifying against the anti-discrimination ordinance in Lincoln swept across the internet. She said a series of awful and incomprehensible things about LGBTQ individuals in the five minutes alloted to her.
Given how much I’ve written about these anti-discrimination ordinances of late and given that this is the city I’ve called home for half a decade now, a number of people asked why I didn’t post the video and make some snarky comment.
And my response was that, when I first saw it, it seemed clear to me that the woman had some mental health issues. As I wrote when a friend posted the story from Wonkette on my Facebook timeline, there’s obviously “a mental health issue here about which I felt I shouldn’t be laughing or encouraging others to laugh.”
Here’s a bit more of the story behind the video:
The Huffington Post, MSNBC and popular sites such as Gawker and Reddit published the video and stories Friday with little context and Svoboda’s name misspelled. The stories garnered more than 100,000 views.
The HuffPo’s post got more than 1,000 comments, many responding to what viewers saw as hate speech. Many seemed to not recognize Svoboda’s mental illness.
Svoboda lives at an assisted-living facility in Lincoln and is listed as a protected person, according to court documents. Her brother, Patrick Svoboda of Ogallala, is her conservator because she is incompetent, the documents say.
He was unaware of the video’s popularity, but wasn’t surprised — he knew it would be a matter of time before she got in trouble somewhere.
He said he’s disappointed the video garnered such attention and jokes without the whole story.
"To me, it shows how little society really cares about people with mental health issues," Patrick Svoboda said. "She does have a very tender heart … but anything she says is certifiably schizophrenic … she’s not some crazy conservative."
Earlier today, I posted a video of Rand Paul talking about the gay-ness of Obama’s position on marriage equality. He receives an impressive round of applause. If we want to talk badly about, laugh at, or (better yet) organize against someone for anti-gay rhetoric, my sense is that we still have plenty of elected officials to choose from. I recommend starting there.
More on the story about the woman from Lincoln, Nebraska is here.