The worst thing about Turtleboy Sports, the blog founded and run by disgraced ex-teacher Aidan Kearney and supported financially and in other ways by Worcester city council member and Republican City Committee chair Michael Gaffney is that it often sexualizes children. Just yesterday, on April 19, they were discussing whether a 16-year-old girl was a prostitute.
A close second is their trademark style of finding people who are at their worst, and then piling abuse onto them and their family. Just the other day, Aidan and Michael Gaffney’s blog wrote a post shaming not only a man addicted to heroin, but his daughter as well, one of whom is apparently a teenager. (Thank goodness Aidan Kearney is no longer allowed to teach!)
This list is getting long, but one of the top ten worst things about Turtleboy Sports is that it gives Worcester a terrible name. We don’t deserve that. This is a city that welcomes everyone from everywhere, and where people of diverse economic backgrounds can succeed. It has a vibrant and growing arts scene, as well as a corps of community activists who devote countless hours to making the city even better. You’ll find a wider array of people living peacefully together here than almost any city in America. We have a police department that has brought crime down dramatically, all while building better and better relations with the community. Our elected leaders (minus those who support blogs sexualizing children and bullying people) and city manager, as well as our business community are teaming up to revitalize Worcester in a way that was only dreamt of decades ago.
When my out of town friends visit Worcester, they always have something nice to say. We don’t have MOMA or the Met, of course, but every single person I’ve brought to the Worcester Art Museum has been absolutely stunned that a city of our size has such an incredible gem with such a wide collection. They leave impressed.
If they haven’t been to Worcester and they read Turtleboy Sports, however, their response is different: What the hell is wrong with your crazy little town? You have 190,000 people in your city, and 60,000 of them read this garbage?
Luckily, the answer is no, absolutely not. While Turtleboy purports to be a “local news source,” they really are a hodgepodge of individuals from across the state and across the country. While Aidan early on attracted people by mocking bad local rap videos, they began attracting people when Milo, the disgraced alt-right commentator, tweeted them on their blog, and they gained even more followers when Steve Bannon’s Breitbart site linked to their story demonizing the undocumented.
And yet they’re desperate to prove two things: one, that they are a legitimate news source, and two, that they’re a representative of our local culture. Neither is the case. Still, that doesn’t prevent them from trying. Aidan and Michael Gaffney worked desperately to win the “best local news source” and “best city council member” categories in the recent Worcester Magazine Best of Worcester contest. They did “win,’ but their win was a sham.
WoMag is a great publication, but they are not yet adept at running contests in the era of hateblogs and the politics of lies. To vote, all you had to do was provide an email address. If you had two email addresses, you could vote twice. Three email address, three times. And so on.
We know that TBS’s most ardent supporters use multiple Facebook accounts. For example, Aidan Kearney is “Clarence Emerson,” “Clarence Woods Emerson,” Clarence Emerson III,” and so on. After I wrote an earlier blog about them, they became offended, and follower after follower sent me Facebook messages saying things like, “Kill yourself now” or something along those lines. I considered whether I should reply, but never had the chance with most of them, because, by the time I went back the next day, the accounts had already been deleted.
All one has to do is look at the Turtleboy Facebook page to see that Aidan and Michael Gaffney’s blog has a zombie-like army of followers who fall all over themselves to do whatever they can to prove that they are part of the “revolution” that Turtleboy purports to lead.
Also, shouldn’t people in Worcester be deciding who the best city council member is? Who the best local news source is? Aidan and Michael Gaffney don’t think so: that’s why they wrote this, noting that many of the people voting would not be familiar at all with the city, its politics, or anything else about it:Indeed, if they really were the best and most beloved, would it be necessary for them to employ people from across the country to get their ratings up? Our legitimate news sources, the Telegram and Gazette, Worcester Magazine (which has recently published some excellent examples of real investigative journalism), and so on, did not campaign at all, nor did any of the other city council members. (Unfortunately for Mike Gaffney, phantom accounts and hatemongers from across the country, though they might flatter him, will not bring a single vote in his quixotic quest to become mayor.)
So let this post be a message to those of you outside Worcester: don’t listen to what the child-sexualizing hate blog supported by our most useless city council member, Michael Gaffney, has to say, and don’t think this represents us. Come here and see what we have to offer. Enjoy the activities on the Common, the restaurants sprouting up all over, our welcoming vibe, all of the diversity and art and food that are immigrant communities – new and old – have brought and continue to bring. See what Worcester is and always has been. This is, after all, the city of the the first American revolution, the first national women’s rights conventions, a huge abolitionist movement, the invention of the yellow smiley face, the location of many future biomedical discoveries, and so on. Our current culture continues the city’s history of progress. Turtleboy and Gaffney represent the opposite.
To Worcester residents: let’s not let these charlatans and hatemongers from out of town continue to smear our reputation. They won a newspaper poll (which never means anything, scientifically speaking, even if it’s a poll in the Times, because the respondents are self-selected and, in this case, in large part fake), but they won’t win the battle for our city’s soul – or their “revolution.”
We can start by making sure that city council member Michael Gaffney becomes ex-city council member Michael Gaffney come November.
Image: The iconic yellow smiley face, created by Worcester’s own Harvey Ball.