There are plenty of outright racists who proudly own their bigotry and hate — you can find them in any corner of the internet. And then there are those who seem to think they should be able to express their messed-up views, be taken at their word when they half-apologize or try to explain them away, and suffer no criticism or repercussions.
For the latter group, the internet has made living their dream increasingly hard. Georgia high school principal Nancy Gordeuk is the latest example of that.
Video of the commencement ceremony at TNT Academy, a small private school in Stone Mountain, Georgia, shows her mistakenly dismissing the crowd before the valedictorian's speech, and then saying, "Look who's leaving — all the black people!" as she tried to correct her error while a racially mixed group of attendees continued their exit from the venue.
When the footage went viral, and she was criticized for being both racist and wrong, she promptly blamed her comments on Satan: "The devil was in this house," she told local news station CBS 46, "and he came out from my mouth."
If anyone was convinced that Gordeuk had actually been momentarily overtaken by evil forces, her son swiftly ruined that theory. He defended his mom in a Facebook post, writing "y'all niggas aren't talking about shit so if u got something to say come see me face to face," and "my moma not racist one bit she's done nothing but help kids so y'all need to get stories straight." His easy use of a racial slur certainly did not do the job of convincing anyone that Gordeuk's not racist.
Between YouTube and social media, explicit expressions of racism are becoming increasingly harder to get away with. Think of the Oklahoma frat boys expelled when a cellphone video captured them chanting, "There will never be a ni**er at SAE ... you can hang him from a tree, but he'll never sign with me; there will never be a ni**er at SAE"; the congressional staffer who stepped down after news outlets published Facebook posts in which he likened his black neighbors to zoo animals; and the Ferguson, Missouri, municipal court officials who were fired after a search of their email revealed "jokes" based on dehumanizing stereotypes about African Americans.
There's no question that it can satisfying to watch someone who's expressed bigotry be publicly humiliated in the same way that their words humiliated others — that's a huge part of why the recent commencement disaster has made national news. But here's what would be even more gratifying: if these people stopped feeling so confident that explicit racism was something they could get away with — or, even better, if they worked as frantically to rid themselves of their biases as they do at their futile efforts to excuse and explain them.