SEVERE WX : Winter Weather Advisory - Winter Storm Watch View Alerts

#GreenShirtGuy: How I went viral

Article Image

Why is the guy in the green shirt laughing his head off? CNN's Jeanne Moos talked to the viral sensation with a contagious laugh.

Posted: Aug 10, 2019 8:10 AM
Updated: Aug 10, 2019 8:10 AM

Being famous for nothing is a strange thing to process.

On Tuesday night, I attended a City Council meeting in Tucson, Arizona, and the next morning, I woke up as a meme.

It started when my colleagues and I went to witness the mayor and City Council vote on whether to place our Sanctuary City community-led initiative Tucson Families Free & Together on the ballot for the municipal elections this fall. This vote was purely procedural, as we had gathered enough signatures to qualify. We expected a very straightforward, uneventful meeting. Instead, what followed was a bizarre circus of local political theater that wound up being seen around the world.

Two anti-immigration activists created an uproar. During the meeting, they began to yell and wave their signs around while one filmed the commotion on her phone. It was obvious that they had missed the entire point: that this was just a formality and the requirements to get the measure on the ballot had been met.

Some people fled the awkwardness, others booed and tried to yell over them, one man clutched his banjo, and I just sat there and laughed.

In the past 48 hours, I've gained over 50,000 Twitter followers, received praise, been called all sorts of names and even got to see myself on Stephen Colbert. It's been surreal to say the least, and it's all because I did something simple and natural. I just laughed.

In the flurry of weird interviews I've done in the past few days, I have been repeatedly asked what was going through my head at that viral moment. Why was I laughing? Was it an intentional response? Was it some form of protest or statement of nonviolence?

This is the question I still have the hardest time answering. If you've seen the video, you saw the scene that unfolded. If you had been there, wouldn't you laugh, too? Sitting inches away from people making fools of themselves, disrupting a public forum to spew hate and accomplish nothing, how else could you respond?

As much as some people may want me to, I'm not going to say that laughter and mockery are always the way to counter those who harbor hateful ideologies or preach against freedom, equality, and social justice. I was lucky in many ways to be where I was: inches away from hate but miles away from danger. In another locale, or with different bigots, I could have been in serious trouble.

There's a philosophical debate about how we as a society should best respond to the scourge of bigotry, white supremacy, xenophobia and fascism. I don't have an answer to it. It's possible there isn't a right answer at all.

But apparently, my goofy, full-body laugh resonated. Maybe it was just one more strange thing in an already strange scene. Or, maybe, a lot of you felt like I did at the end of that clip: that laughing at the absurdity of hatred helps process it and helps to cleanse the mind of these toxic ideologies.

On Wednesday morning, as this whole thing was blowing up online, I managed to take a minute between interviews to talk to my dad, who quoted Elvis Costello's "Red Shoes": "I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused." Humor, to me, has always been a natural reaction to tragedy, and what I witnessed in that moment was certainly tragic.

I don't yet know what will come of #GreenShirtGuy, and I am sure my 15 minutes are almost up. I assume I will slide back into obscurity with the rest of the planet. Whatever the future holds, it has been an honor to receive so many kind messages and to know that this silly little moment brought some real joy in a time as chaotic and frightening as this.

All I ask is that through the endless "memeifcation" of #GreenShirtGuy, you remember what started all of this: the work my colleagues at the People's Defense Initiative are doing around policies which protect and uplift human rights. Sanctuary will make our community safer for everyone, especially the most vulnerable. Laughing at bigotry felt good, but enacting a law to help protect people from this kind of hate will feel even better.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 136839

Reported Deaths: 1865
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah28929461
Washington19113178
Marion16575246
Clackamas11937141
Lane8653113
Jackson707395
Umatilla694172
Deschutes513140
Yamhill326947
Malheur319353
Linn317949
Polk253440
Klamath250546
Josephine181936
Benton179214
Douglas174943
Jefferson172725
Union114017
Wasco110523
Columbia106918
Lincoln101917
Hood River97421
Coos97215
Morrow96210
Clatsop7075
Crook64511
Baker5815
Tillamook3682
Curry3245
Lake2405
Grant2171
Harney1796
Wallowa993
Gilliam521
Sherman470
Wheeler201
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 3124420

Reported Deaths: 36362
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles105480214894
San Bernardino2611991579
Riverside2585322777
San Diego2225782301
Orange2188672547
Santa Clara963401181
Kern88399587
Fresno841371043
Sacramento823031157
Alameda69554856
Ventura63995507
San Joaquin59395808
Contra Costa54140484
Stanislaus43644782
Tulare42759531
Monterey36950259
San Mateo33468340
San Francisco29801275
Solano26494111
Santa Barbara25986260
Imperial25509493
Merced25048324
Sonoma24571245
Kings19703160
Placer17675188
San Luis Obispo16437151
Madera13664151
Santa Cruz12649130
Marin11899163
Yolo10940138
Shasta9920129
Butte9643134
El Dorado800259
Sutter792783
Napa777446
Lassen522416
San Benito510148
Yuba504929
Tehama440844
Tuolumne344340
Nevada329274
Mendocino323433
Amador303832
Lake266932
Humboldt249425
Glenn196420
Colusa18549
Calaveras164723
Siskiyou148413
Mono11354
Inyo100729
Del Norte8702
Plumas6055
Modoc3863
Mariposa3464
Trinity3054
Sierra880
Alpine730
Unassigned00
Medford
Mostly Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 45° Lo: 36°
Feels Like: 48°
Brookings
Clear
50° wxIcon
Hi: 51° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 50°
Medford
Clear
48° wxIcon
Hi: 31° Lo: 16°
Feels Like: 48°
Medford
Cloudy
48° wxIcon
Hi: 47° Lo: 33°
Feels Like: 48°
Klamath Falls
Clear
40° wxIcon
Hi: 38° Lo: 25°
Feels Like: 35°
Mostly dry Saturday with wintry weather Sunday
KDRV Radar
KDRV Fire Danger
KDRV Weather Cam

Community Events