The past few days have been ... crazy. Yeah, crazy is a good word.
It all started Friday when we were tipped off to the secretly recorded speech that Oklahoma Representative Sally Kern made to a small group of republicans who wanted her input on the homosexual lifestyle. I just moved here last year from Texas, but I'm told it's no secret Representative Kern isn't a fan of the West Hollywood-type crowds.
So, what's the big deal now? Well, unless you've been hiding under a rainbow for the past week, Representative Kern offered up some views and opinions in her speech that deeply offended both gays and straights around America.
The speech was posted on YouTube and then a News 9 viewer e-mailed the YouTube link to our desk who e-mailed it to me and News9.com's Audrey Esther for further review.
When I made the first call to Representative Kern's office on Friday her secretary said the office was already fielding calls from reporters in New York, Los Angeles, Portland and they had to "check with council to find out what could and could not be said."
A few minutes later the lawmaker called me back on my cell phone. She said News 9 had always treated her fairly and would only grant our TV station an interview, but she told me upfront that she was not going to apologize.
Audrey Esther and I arrived at the Representative's home shortly after 5:00 p.m. Friday. She greeted us at the door with a smile and a handshake and invited us inside of her one-story home that was nestled in an average neighorhood near Warr Acres. I noticed as we were setting up in her front living room there was a very large Bible placed on a stand next to the couch she was sitting on. Her home was warm and inviting.
The entire interview with Kern is posted here on News9.com and we continued to follow the story throughout the weekend and we watched this monster grow before our eyes.
The number of views on News9.com and YouTube were growing rapidly by the minute.
It wasn't long before our story and the video was being posted on blogs and other web sites around the country. On Monday CNN started airing the story I packaged on Saturday and Monday afternoon I was called in to do a live talkback interview with CNN Headline News.
This morning on her show, Ellen DeGeneres attempted to call Representative Kern, but there was no answer. Needless to say, the story is all around the country now.
My own cell phone and e-mail box, both personal and here at work, have been flooded with comments and opinions from friends, family and viewers.
Here is one e-mail I received:
"What a fun story to cover! Did you want to spit in her face or what?"
The answer is "no", but this is a question I've been asked over and over. How do I feel about the Representative comparing gays to terrorists?
Well, my response is I'm sad, but not for the reason you're probably thinking.
Sure, I don't agree with Representative Kern, because I'm sure our men and women who are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan agree the terrorists there are much more frightening and dangerous than the men and women who shop at Versace and dance to techno music at the clubs near NW 39th and Penn, but again - it's not her comments that disappoint me because I believe she has every right, as an American, to say what she feels.
It's called freedom of speech and I applaud anybody who exercises that right. If we don't like it we can either..
A) not listen
B) protest it
C) vote her out of office.
I think 'C 'would have the most impact, but remember, that's not what bothers me. Instead, it's the negative attention it's bringing Oklahoma.
I remember talking to friends and family back in Texas just last week and telling them how excited the city is now that we're one step closer to becoming an NBA town! I brag about the growth we're seeing here in Oklahoma City and I think I've finally convinced them that Oklahoma City is more than just about tornados and ‘the bombing.'
Oklahoma City has a great night life, a fantastic and growing downtown, an awesome hockey team, great food (that continues to make me fatter by the day) and shopping here can match most other cities its size. The TV market is fierce and competitive, people are friendly and our airport is easy to use. There are unique shops, an arts district and let's not forget about OU, OSU and the rest of the colleges and educational institutions that offer up so, so much! I've also remarked about how progressive the Sooner State is. We have openly gay business owners, a gay district, an openly gay state lawmaker, a corporate commissioner, police officers, sheriff deputies, fire fighters... all of them open and proud of who they are.
After hearing me say all of this, I've had a dozen or so friends from Texas who've made the trek up I-35 and they agree - Oklahoma offers up much more than what they had ever expected.
And now, because of one woman's remarks... it's gone.
Look, while we all are entitled to our own opinions, and I completely respect Representative Kern's thoughts and commentary, I just can't help but to think that she should have put a little more consideration into how her comments could impact the rest of us Oklahomans, because now I have those same group of family and friends who believed Oklahoma was progressive, positive and a breath of fresh air, say it's exactly how they imagined it the first time around.-Rusty