A Virginia candidate for Rappahannock County School Board has apologized for using anti-gay slurs in a Facebook comment thread last year.
The comment thread was part of a post made in a community Facebook group “Rapp Uncensored” in December 2020.
Rod Osborne, a Castleton resident and recently retired Prince Williams County detention center worker who is challenging incumbent school board member Larry Grove in the Stonewall-Hawthorne district, posted an image of an altered magazine cover depicting President Joe Biden as a child suckling on former President Barack Obama.
A male user replied to the photo, asking if others in the group were “turned on” by the altered image, prompting Osborne to call the man anti-gay slurs, reports the Rappahannock News.
At one point in the thread, Osborne wrote to the user: “The fact that you can look at this and even remotely consider asking that question makes me really wonder about you.”
The user replied: “Don’t worry too hard!!! Don’t want you hurting yourself sweetie.”
Osborne responded: “The fact that you refer to another man as sweetie answers almost everything I need to know about your first comment,” calling the man a homophobic slur. The thread continued with the two men fighting back and forth, with Osborne calling the man another anti-gay slur.
On Tuesday, Osborne apologized for his remarks. He issued a statement saying that he had joined the Facebook group last year and was a member for about two months before he “quickly learned it was a political debate page where many posted satirical memes and discussions often turned ugly.”
“During a heated exchange I regrettably used language that is not in my character. Conveniently, some of the offending comments towards me leading up to some of these exchanges are missing,” Osborne said in the statement. “It is difficult to get the full context of these exchanges and sad that some are trying to exploit them. I apologize to anyone who may be offended by comments. Those who know me and have met me know my true character.”
Grove declined to comment on Osborne’s posts when approached by the Rappahannock News.
Interestingly, the Facebook group, which users must request to join, says in its description that it is an “alternative group to the highly monitored and censored Rappnet,” which appears to be a nod to a larger societal trend in which people — particularly political conservatives — claim that many social media platforms are too concerned with “political correctness” and that some people are too easily offended by what they read online.
“We encourage posts to be related to Rappahannock County, but it is not required. We have very few baseline rules. Feel free to discuss and argue to your heart’s content,” the description reads. “If you have thin skin, please use Rappnet instead so the Rappnet gods can protect your fragile feelings.
“Rules: No threats,” the description continues. “No bullying based on race, religion, gender, sexuality, or gender identity. Local business posts are encouraged, but limit to once a day. Spam and scam type posts will be deleted. No sexual or overly violent/
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