There haven’t been a lot of feel-good stories this election cycle. But one sliver of light slipping through the toxic orange hate cloud engulfing us all was the emergence of Ken Bone, an undecided voter in an adorable red sweater who asked one of the most substantive questions in the second presidential debate.
With his delightful name and bold fashion choices, Bone captured our hearts. And as he began doing post-debate interviews, we learned that he’s essentially a real-life Jerry Gergich from Parks and Recreation. (His wife is beautiful and he wore the red sweater because he split the pants of the suit he was originally planning to wear.) America, collectively, entered the “Bone Zone.”
So, it was inevitable that we’d eventually reach the next phase of this – the inexplicable backlash. While most people were happy to let this guy enjoy his silly little 15 minutes of fame, others were looking for a way to smugly tear it all down. Which is how, after Bone did a Reddit AMA, we ended up with a Gizmodo article entitled “Ken Bone Forgot to Delete His Reddit Porn Comments, Said Trayvon Martin Killing Was ‘Justified.'”
Bone, in a very “Gergich” move, used his existing Reddit account to do his Ask Me Anything. That allowed Gizmodo and others to comb through his previous comments on subreddits in hopes of digging up dirt. And what they discovered, mostly, is that he occasionally likes to look at sexy photos of women and write comments like: “I never realized the white Power Ranger was so beautiful.”
The closest thing to a smoking gun in his Reddit history was this (admittedly not great) comment about the death of Trayvon Martin:
But even in that comment, he says that he thinks George Zimmerman is awful. And, while I don’t agree with Bone that the shooting was justified, with Florida’s insane “Stand Your Ground” law, I can see how Bone might reach his opinion. It’s not a great thing to say, but it hardly proves he’s secretly a monster.
I decided to do some investigating of my own. I went through all of Ken Bone’s comments myself to see what I could find. And, fairly quickly, I found this:
Which helps to put his Trayvon Martin comment in a clearer context. He has some doubts about that particular case, but he’s also clearly aware that there’s a problem in this country with unarmed black men being killed. As someone who became famous for being an undecided voter, somehow I’m not surprised that he can have different opinions on a case-by-case basis.
I dug a bit further into his comment history to see what else I could find. What I discovered was basically what I expected – Ken Bone is a sweet, nerdy guy who occasionally (though far less frequently than I would have guessed) looks at and comments on photos of nude women. And while there was a rush to find the worst things he’s ever written on Reddit, I discovered that he wrote some really wonderful things that aren’t getting any attention. Like this comments about homelessness:
In fact, Ken Bone has been walking the walk since getting all of this media attention. He’s been donating a portion of all of the money he’s received for appearances and merchandise to the St. Patrick Center of St. Louis, MO to help the fight against homelessness.
I also found this very sweet response he posted to a victim of sexual assault:
I found these comments in Bone’s history before some of the ones Gizmodo posted. Which means they ignored them in favor of whatever they thought would paint Bone in the worst light. That’s what bothers me about their article (and others like it that continue to crop up). They are looking for anything they can use against him because they’d rather discredit him than let him have his 15 minutes of fame. Ken Bone is a harmless ray of sunshine in dark times and they are rushing to extinguish that light.
Don’t believe the backlash. Soak up every ray of sunshine this cherub of man provides us. Bathe in the light of the man in red. Because the world is dark and full of terrors.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. Follow Joel on Twitter @FreeMisterClark or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.