Ryan Walters strikes right-wing culture war gold!
He'll at least get two or three years of grandstanding out of this.
12:28 PM EDT on September 5, 2023
Late last week, the right-wing propaganda media mill went full red alert when Libs of TikTok informed them that Shane Brent Murnan – a principal at John Glenn Elementary in the maligned Western Heights School District – not only moonlights as a Drag Queen named Shantel Mandalay, but was arrested on child porn charges over 20 years ago.
Once he found out about the news, Oklahoma State School Superintendent Ryan Walters – the guy who certified Murnan/Mandalay’s teaching credentials – did a couple of backflips, ran out to his SUV, and filled it with some sort of hazy fume. He then filmed a video about it.
Instead of examining or explaining how and why a person with a child pornography arrest on his record rose through the ranks of Oklahoma’s education system to become an elementary school principal, Ryan stayed true to brand and did a grandstanding routine on made-up anti-trans culture war issues.
Specifically, he vowed to fight boogie man topics like “radical gender theory,” the “woke war on kids,” “social justice warriors” and other manufactured right-wing concepts.
Check this out:
That's great. I bet Ryan was happier than Coach Koons watching his players do naked up-downs when Matt Langston texted this story over to him!
Seriously, they struck glitter gold and found a real-life drag queen serving as a principal at an Oklahoma elementary school to advance their anti-trans narrative! The only thing that could make this any better for him is if Murnan was also handing out QR codes to the library or teaching Critical Race Theory!
That being said, isn’t it kind of weird that Ryan ignored in his video that the guy was charged with possession of child pornography? That’s the real issue here – not what persona this principal pretends to be on Sunday mornings at the Boom!
Ryan did address those charges in a statement:
After the story broke and went national, people on the left rushed out to defend Murman.
They accurately pointed out that the charges against him were dismissed and expunged, that he’s a dedicated educator with a doctorate in education, and that he is primarily being targeted by the right-wing due to his hobbies and sexual orientation, and is nothing more than the latest victim of today's culture wars.
All those points may be true, buuuuuuuuuut….
The dude was charged with possession of child pornography! That’s not exactly a bunch of unpaid speeding tickets.
Plus, when you read news articles about the case – and hear what the DA, judges and cops had to say at the time – there’s enough there for any rational person to see at least think twice about the situation.
For example, check out this article in The Tulsa World that came out after the original charges were filed:
An affidavit by Les Little, of the Police Department's criminal investigation division, said police seized a laptop computer and six grams of marijuana from Murnan's home.
Four images of adolescent white males performing sex acts with each other were recovered from the computer by the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, the affidavit said.
Those charges were eventually dismissed, but prosecutors appealed… and won!
A Payne County Appeals Court judge Friday reversed an earlier ruling that not enough evidence existed to try a Stillwater elementary school teacher on child pornography charges…
Associate Judge Dave Allen said the pictures served as enough evidence to try Murnan, who had earlier won a decision that the pictures, which were deleted and recovered by law enforcement officials, were not enough evidence to try Murnan.
"However it is clear from a review of the pictures that they do represent child pornography," Allen said in his ruling.
I guess the case went back to the courts, where it was dismissed after the DA concluded they wouldn’t be able to conclusively prove Murnan “was in possession” of the smut.
District Attorney Rob Hudson said Tuesday that after Payne County District Judge Donald L. Worthington on Thursday dismissed the charge against Shane Brent Murnan, 31, prosecutors reviewed the case and talked with school officials before making a decision.
"After careful consideration of the issues and whether we would ever be able to prove he was in possession of the deleted materials, we have decided not to appeal," he said. "We're disappointed, but we respect the court's decision."
Defense attorney Frank Muret argued that since Murnan had deleted the images from his computer, the state couldn't prove he was in possession of it. Worthington granted the defense's motion to dismiss based on that argument.
Muret did not return calls Tuesday but said earlier that Murnan acquired the pictures by accident and deleted them immediately.
As a logical, rational person who tries to float above the tribalism fray, this whole situation falls in a weird gray area for me.
On one hand, I realize the charges against Murnan were dismissed. I also wouldn't expect the 2002 Oklahoma Criminal Justice System – or even the 2023 version – to be fair or unbiased when investigating child porn accusations levied against an openly gay drag queen. In fact, I would expect it to rush to judgment and charge a guy even if they don't have enough evidence to win a case, and then cover their tracks when they were exposed.
That being said...
As the parent of a five-year-old, I can’t blame parents for being cautious and not wanting to send their kids to a school overseen by a guy with child porn charges on his rap sheet. Yes, I know charges were dropped, but I also don’t know how child porn can just accidentally appear on your computer. That seems very weird.
Obviously, there needs to be some sort of explanation by the school district here. The Western Heights School District did that in the vaguest, least informative way possible:
Yep, they talked to his past employers and everything’s fine. They didn’t offer any specific details or explanations about the charges. Please just trust the embattled school district and move along.
Also, please ignore old posts hanging around his old Shantel Mandalay Facebook Page.
Yes, I know Shantel is just a character/persona. I'm just saying that based on things that happened 10 years earlier, Shantel should have asked for a House Man instead.
Anyway, I’ve written more today about a school principal who moonlights as a drag queen being arrested on child porn charges that were eventually dropped 20 years ago than I ever thought I would. I guess that’s all in a day’s work in today’s Oklahoma. Please share your thoughts on the situation, or Ryan Walters ignoring the crux of the situation to double down on his anti-trans crusade, or whatever else you want in the comments.
Stay with The Lost Ogle. We’ll keep you advised.
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