Last week, Equality Utah announced that local gay rights activist Troy Williams had been hired as their new executive director. What’s concerning is how Troy seems to be scrubbing his online history to try and bury his controversial past. His personal twitter account has been deleted (Google cache and FavStar highlights) and his personal website on WordPress has been set to invite-only (with a robots.txt to block indexing starting on September 21). His Facebook profile is also locked down to make posts invisible to the public or mutual friends (though, to be fair, I don’t know that it was set otherwise prior to that). What’s for certain is that these actions reveal both Troy Williams and his new employer as raging hypocrites.
Those that interacted with Troy at any point online know exactly what I’m talking about. If you ever disagreed with him on any point at all, he would make sure that each of his replies was crafted to be visible to all of his followers. The entire purpose is a well-worn tactic of getting your online mob to show up in force and shout someone down with whom you disagree. He’d take it even further by twisting words specifically to incite that kind of response. It extended far beyond that, his tactics being a not-so-subtle “give me what a want or else” in matters of legislation. For someone that spent much time giving lip service to anti-bullying, he spent an awful lot of time engaging in it himself. I suppose it’s not too unexpected given Gayle Ruzicka’s tutelage.
Troy also spent a fair amount of time calling people out for cowardice, especially when they tried to hide information online. And yet, when he’s thrust even further into the spotlight, he apparently can’t be bothered to follow his own counsel. Unlike Troy, I don’t delete blog posts and my social media profiles are public and unedited (except for the occasional spelling fix), even though I know there’s probably some stupid things I’ve said there. (I’ve probably even contradicted myself and committed the grave sin of “flip-flopping”.) It’s better to leave it up, own that you said it, and explain yourself if and when you get called on it. Ironically, scrubbing your history of outrageous statements to score a job is exactly the kind of thing that Troy has lambasted political rivals for in the past. Now we’d all just have a harder time proving all of the “do as I say, not as I do”.
It’s obvious that kind of behavior is quite unbecoming of the public face of any organization, but Equality Utah apparently really, really wanted to capitalize on Troy’s notoriety. Unfortunately, they seem to want to do so without owning how he obtained that notoriety in the first place. It won’t be possible to bury his arrest at the capitol complex (for creating a fire hazard, not making any kind of brave or principled stand), but many more incidents will end up almost entirely forgotten. His constant antagonism against the LDS Church on theological and organizational matters would hobble Equality Utah’s supposed mission to “build bridges” with the state’s largest faith. The endless stream of bullying of anyone who disagreed with him is now an undocumented “he said, she said” series of accusations he can conveniently forget ever happened. Even his complete lack of self awareness when sharing an article asking if Internet rage culture has gone too far is only a memory to those of us who looked it it and thought “really? From THIS guy?”
Unfortunately for Troy and his new employer, most of us are going to remember what he thinks he can make the Internet forget. Most of the legislature already knows him as an incendiary bomb-thrower, the kind that will even throw a supposed ally under the bus when he doesn’t get everything he wants. Participants on Twitter are keenly aware of Troy’s bullying history, myself having been on the receiving end more than once. As much as he’ll try and hide his past to the benefit of his employer, it’s not going to work. We know what you are, Troy, and no amount of deletion can change it.