Blogger Matthew Cunningham unpublished a mean-spirited post on the Anaheim Blog after numerous complaints of racism, The Voice of OC‘s Adam Elmahrek reported.
Cunningham is “a conservative blogger funded by the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce,” the Voice of OC reported. Anaheim Blog’s About page says it is ” focused on civic affairs in Orange County’s largest city: city government, candidates and campaigns, issues and events, moving and shaking, etc.”
His Dec. 12 post featured photos of a teddy bear on the ground that was missing some of its stuffing. The teddy bear photos were labeled “crime scene photo” and the blogpost was titled “UPDATED: Senseless Teddy Bear-icide Near Anaheim City Hall.” While the blogpost, which wasn’t originally labeled satire, was removed, the Voice of OC saved a copy of the page.
“More than 50 people” protested Cunningham’s post last week, the OC Register reported, adding that the Anaheim Chamber of Commerce does pay Cunningham for work but not for his blogging.
The blogpost claimed that the teddy bear “met a grisly fate” near Anaheim City Hall. Cunningham soon took things too far by creating a fictional story to mock Latino memorials. His update said, “This senseless tragedy seems to have struck a chord with the community” and included a photo showing candles near the teddy bear with a caption reading “A make-shift shrine stands vigil over the fallen teddy bear.”
As the Voice of OC explained, the image “clearly mimics widely publicized images of memorial sites that Latino families place on sidewalks to honor the young men.”
The timing of the blogpost made matters worse: Cunningham’s blogpost and photo came just after a candlelight vigil near the police department for the 2009 death of Caeser Cruz, The Voice of OC reported. Cruz’s mother, Theresa Smith, told the Voice of OC that the blogpost mocked her. “You’re making fun of me losing a child, having to bury him.” Smith added, “I’m outraged. I’m absolutely outraged.””
In yet another update to the blogpost, Cunningham took things further by including fake information attributed to a very real organization and person. Cunningham wrote of the teddy bear incident that “left-wing agitation group AnswerLA.org reacted by blaming racial profiling and brutality campaign by the Anaheim Department targeting people of color” and that Dr. Jose F. Moreno wanted a “series of community meetings” on the incident. However, at the bottom of that update, Cunningham posted somewhat of a disclaimer that the update wasn’t real. “Note to the gullible – AnswerLA.org and Moreno didn’t really say that.”
Finally, in a fourth update to the teddy bear post, Cunningham acknowledged this blogpost was satire and admitted that he received complaints. Cunningham said he didn’t stage the teddy bear but did create the memorial scene by putting candles near the stuffed animal. That update reads:
“NOTE TO READERS: A few humorless leftists have read the post and taken exception, so let me say a few things. I found the teddy bear as it is on the sidewalk (the candles being the only added touch) – never touched it, never moved it. This post is satire. The subject is the leftist tendency to feed off of tragedies of violence — to content they have wider social and political meaning behind themselves and exploit them to push their politics and usually a specific policy agenda. Frankly, I expected this reaction from some of these very commenters, given they lack a sense of humor about their politics.”
After ultimately unpublishing the blogpost, Cunningham wrote on Dec. 12 “why this post is gone.” That note back-tracked. now denying that he was satiring “any particular person or incident:
“This post was intended as satire of the tendency of leftists to claim tragedies of violence as evidence of this or that underlying systemic social injustice, and then to exploit them to push political/policy agendas. I did not have any particular person or incident in mind when I wrote it, and anyone suggesting otherwise is totally mistaken. Accusations of malicious or sinister intent that have been made by some (with their own agendas) are completely untrue, as anyone who actually knows me, my life and my views can attest.
“Unfortunately, the discussion isn’t about the real point of the post but instead is centering on uninformed or politically motivated speculation about intentions I never had and thoughts I don’t harbor. Given that, there’s no point in leaving the post up.”