Nasty, brutish and short: the tweets of Angus King’s son
By Chris Busby
Editor’s note: This editorial has been adapted from a column originally intended for publication in the Bangor Daily News this week. Our media partners at the BDN have come to a different conclusion than I have regarding whether it is appropriate to bring this issue to light. (The original column appeared briefly on their website yesterday due to an error I made while attempting to update the post prior to publication.) There is apparently a difference of opinion among sources familiar with Ben Herman as to whether he possesses the mental capacity to understand the consequences of his actions. Based on our sources, and the facts of his life — that he is a college student and an athlete with a job/internship and an active social life — we have no reason to believe he was incapable of understanding the implications of his own words. King campaign spokeswoman Crystal Canney declined to comment on Herman.
The man who promises to bring Maine values to the United States Senate has clearly failed to do so in his own home.
In a report we posted this week, columnist and investigative reporter Crash Barry examines the troubling Twitter postings (or tweets) of Angus King’s youngest son, twenty-something Ben Herman. The tweets reveal that Herman’s privileged upbringing as the scion of one of Maine’s most prominent families has not made him a young man of character, class or compassion.
Much to the contrary, the posts show Herman to be a lazy, boozey, foul-mouthed lout who delights in spreading racist stereotypes, views women as little more than sexual orifices, and finds the misfortunes of others (the handicapped, the elderly) alternately irritating and amusing.
Let’s start with the racism. “Black guy in red stripe shirt… very funny,” Herman tweeted last July, apparently referring to the Jamaican beer. “Mexican buying dos Equis classic,” reads another, posted in August.
Then last week, while accompanying his father to the Fryeburg Fair, Herman posted a photo of a sign depicting a grinning black child eating watermelon. The tweet reads “You know,” followed by the image, leading the reader to interpret the post as saying, “You know black people like to eat watermelon.”
There is no indication that Herman found the sign inappropriate or offensive. There’s every indication he found it funny enough to share with his 48 Twitter followers, a group that includes his mother, Mary Herman, and his younger sister, Molly, but not (perhaps tellingly), his father, whose campaign was also sending out tweets that day.
In an earlier post, Ben Herman managed to both defend and degrade the Greek Olympian Paraskevi Papachristou, who was expelled from last summer’s games for sending a tweet widely considered racist and tasteless. “Boo Olympics sending home one if [sic] the few hot athletes for a raciest [sic] tweet,” Herman wrote. “It’s not her fault shes [sic] blonde.”
Herman’s misogyny is on display in numerous tweets. “Vaginas are shipping and receiving centers,” Herman wrote last November. “Receive a lot. Ship every nine months.”
Herman is on the University of New England lacrosse team, and, unfortunately, like so many college jocks, he insults other men using homophobic slurs. “Long border with a helmet=gay,” he wrote.
The child-rape scandal at Penn State and molestation allegations against a Syracuse University basketball coach inspired not outrage or condemnation from this college athlete, but a sick attempt at humor. “Dicks [sic] is having a sale on certain items,” Herman tweeted last December. “Little boys pants with Penn state [sic] or Syracuse logos half off.”
This fortunate son finds the misfortune of others worthy of scorn and derision. “So a guy missing his leg using crouches [sic] just pissed every where [sic] in the bathroom before me. Kinda mad about it,” reads a tweet from last May. “Old people walking on cobble stone, hilarious,” reads another.
Other rich people also arouse his ire. “Some god damn Mercedes took my parking sport [sic],” he wrote in August, “temptation to ram in is palpable.”
There are numerous references to alcohol abuse — “lots of alcohol later,” “Any alcy out there want to join me,” “Hammered before the suns [sic] down” — which may explain the atrocious spelling and surly tone of most of the posts, but certainly does not excuse them.
According to Herman’s bio on the UNE lacrosse roster, he’s majoring in sports management and minoring in business. His tweets indicate that he also has a job — or had one, until this column got published. The tweets that refer to his work are generally about how he’s not doing it.
July 16: “First day at work did nothing.”
July 17: “Second day at work” [picture of laptop screen showing computer game]
July 23: “[Expletive] hate working for the man”
August 13: “Olympics are over. What do I do at work now?”
Herman doesn’t have his father’s political savvy. While his dad’s canvassing the state for votes, the son’s badmouthing entire cities (“Smells like trash,” he wrote in July, “must be back in biddo”) and making light of historical atrocities (“Hulk killed more people than Stalin fact,” he tweeted two weeks ago).
I’ll leave it to voters to decide to what extent the father should answer for the sins of the son. But it’s obvious that somebody’s got some explaining to do.