The Big Yanoski

Backlash from man’s remarks making namesake miserable,” reports the Standard Speaker of Hazleton, Pa.

A former Hazleton man says his life has become a nightmare after racially insensitive remarks made by another man with the same name went viral on the Internet this week.

Richard Peter Yanoski Jr., 39, said he had to take down his pages on Facebook and LinkedIn, and his company received derogatory emails because of the remarks.

A different man, Richard Mark Yanoski, 53, of McAdoo, made the remarks on Aug. 15 in “Know Your Neighbor,” a daily Standard-Speaker feature that asks local residents to comment briefly on their lives and impressions about the community. His answer to the question asking what’s worst about the Hazleton area was, “All the Hispanics who moved here.”

The comments drew criticism from readers in the days following publication. People began talking about them again Monday when the article and photo received wider circulation on the Internet and social media after they were posted on the website for the Comedy Central program Tosh.0.

That’s when Richard Peter Yanoski Jr. began to take flak for something with which he had nothing to do.

… Richard Peter Yanoski Jr., a Hazleton native who now works in the Harrisburg area, said people reading on the Internet mistakenly think he made the remarks, which he said are the opposite of his views. … He said his father, Richard Peter Yanoski, 67, who lives in Hazleton, doesn’t want people to think that he made the comments either.

Richard Mark Yanoski, 53, of McAdoo, Pa., also responded to the question “How would you improve the quality of life in Hazleton?” by answering, “Get rid of the Hispanics.” (Joe.My.God. has the full Know Your Neighbor feature posted.)

It’s remarkable that the paper chose to run such a feature on the Other Yanoski, Dick Mark, even after he gave such responses to its questions. Dick Mark is free to say whatever odious, ignorant things he chooses, but the newspaper isn’t compelled to print them and provide him a wider platform. The feature is called “Know Your Neighbor,” not “Say Hateful Things About Your Neighbors While Making Trouble for Any Other Neighbors Who Share Your Name.”

It’s also remarkable that Richard Mark Yanoski, 53, of McAdoo, Pa., chose to express such stupid, ugly sentiments so proudly and publicly, in a forum in which he knew his name and photograph would be attached. I’m accustomed to seeing that sort of reveling in bigotry in the cesspool of reader comments at newspaper sites, where anonymity allows a handful of vocal morons to drive away everyone who’s not a moral imbecile. As Tara Murtha writes of the commenters for Philadelphia’s largest newspaper sites:

Not every single Philly dot commenter is a racist spewing (woefully predictable) hate speech from behind the cloak of anonymity.

But most are.

Yet here we have Dick Mark proudly affixing his own name and photograph to the same kind of repugnant bigotry. In doing so, he doesn’t just display a vicious inhospitality to his Hispanic neighbors and cause a major headache for the poor guy who shares his name, he also harms the entire community. I don’t imagine, for example, that the Hazleton Area School District is thrilled to have Dick Mark as the new poster-child for its school system.

I’m of two minds about the news that poor Richard Peter Yanoski Jr. has been “taking flak” for Dick Mark’s comments. On the one hand, it’s encouraging that such sentiments do encounter some push-back. That’s appropriate and necessary. When remarks like Dick Mark’s go unchallenged, others are emboldened to express such ideas proudly and publicly, and then emboldened to act on them. And that winds up with real consequences, and often those consequences include both illegal violence and legislated violence. On the other hand, I can guess at the tone and substance of such push-back when it’s led by fans of Tosh.0, and that approach is probably sub-optimal.

The Standard Speaker doesn’t tell us whether or not the man actually deserving of this approbation has also been “taking flak” since boasting of his bigotry and ignorance to everyone who reads the paper. I find myself again wondering: Does Richard Mark Yanoski, 53, of McAdoo, Pa., attend church? And, if so, shouldn’t there be some conditions placed on his continued attendance and/or some repercussions for the clerical malpractice of that congregation’s leadership?

  • thrownaway

    I’m sort of in love with this sentence:

    “That’s when Richard Peter Yanoski Jr. began to take flak for something with which he had nothing to do.”

  • Anonymous

    I’m sure that if he does go to church it’s likely to be of the New Hope variety, does it have to do with Revelation or hating gay people? No? Well…than maybe next time he shouldn’t say it out loud, I mean he shouldn’t say it at all, yeah, that.” 

  • http://accidental-historian.typepad.com/ Geds

    I’m sort of in love with this sentence:

    “That’s when Richard Peter Yanoski Jr. began to take flak for something with which he had nothing to do.”

    It is delightfully terrible.

  • Apocalypse Review

    This is, sadly, not unusual in my experience, when white males who have little experience outside of their nice quiet suburban lives decide to be “edgy” and “un-PC”, and happen to be in front of a computer where physical proximity to anyone else who might disprove their notions is, of course, nonexistent.

    So they run their fingers off at the keyboard and blather every possible ignorant thing you could think of about anyone who isn’t white and doesn’t conform to the prevailing cultural gestalt.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    I’m accustomed to seeing that sort of reveling in bigotry in the cesspool of reader comments at newspaper sites, where anonymity allows a handful of vocal morons to drive away everyone who’s not a moral imbecile.

    I work at The Seattle Times in their New Media division, so I am uncomfortably familiar with the kind of comments that tend to fill threads linked to news stories.  I saw this Onion article this morning, and the first thing I thought of was, “That would be a godsend for newspaper’s websites.”  

  • Anonymous

    Same reason I just tried to look as normal at school as possible, I don’t want to look back twenty years later and have to hide all my photo’s because I looked like a complete moron now.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Same reason I just tried to look as normal at school as possible, I don’t want to look back twenty years later and have to hide all my photo’s because I look like a complete moron now.

    During high school, I tried as hard as I could to avoid having any photographs taken which could place me there.  I think that I succeeded.  

  • Marshall Pease

    It would be nice if people took the time to be sure they are shooting back at a shooter, vain hope. I see there’s a Marshall Pease in Germany; I hope he behaves himself. 

    I don’t quite understand why people running sites that get predominately bad mojo don’t require posting over a real-world identity. I understand that there are times and places where anonymity is reasonable, but the world would be better if people felt  discouraged from having opinions they aren’t willing to stand up for. He who does the truth comes to the light, that his deeds may be clearly seen, that they have been done in God.

  • Polymerchain

    Plenty of people are willing to say all sorts of horrible things even when real names are required: my local newspaper’s site is a good example of that. It just means that those of us who want to refute them anonymously are no longer able to, so the newspaper gets the impression that the majority of their readers are hate-spewing bigots.

  • Bificommander

    OT: According to Harold’s Campings ammended prophecy, the earth should be destroyed right about now (in my timezone anyway).

  • Reverend Ref

    OT: According to Harold’s Campings ammended prophecy, the earth should
    be destroyed right about now (in my timezone anyway).

    Oh, Dang!  Was that today?

  • http://stealingcommas.blogspot.com/ chris the cynic

    He’s downgraded to “probably”.

    The world will probably end on the 21st.

  • Lori

    Word to the wise—Joe.My.God is kind of NSFW. 

  • Matri

    He’s downgraded to “probably”.

    Even he doesn’t believe his own crap now.

    Didn’t he say that it is most definitely, absotively posilutely, no takesies-backsies FOR REALS happening on the 21st?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_2RAPF5V3YPOUWAZGAJ2VCQM76Q Alicia

    Yeah. I think he’ll ratchet down his certainty every prediction until he ends up announcing something like, “The world will continue to exist on July 6th, 2050″.

    And then, on July 7 2050, the world will explode. Because God hates spoilers

  • Mackrimin

    I don’t quite understand why people running sites that get predominately
    bad mojo don’t require posting over a real-world identity.

    They can require it all they want, but unless they actually check it somehow, which requires resources, it is utterly ineffective.

    But even if it was effective, other sites simply have different priorities than Slacktivist. This blog exists to push Fred’s political and religious views and attack the people he disagrees with, but many websites out there have no particular goal besides hosting discussion. For such a site the chilling effect you describe could, in itself, be entirely against the site’s basic ideology.

    Also, attempts to shame racists into silence don’t work but can easily backfire, since it allows racists to paint themselves as victims of oppression.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Charity-Brighton/100002974813787 Charity Brighton

    Plus, obviously the “real name” thing doesn’t work. There are probably a lot of men named “Sam Jones” living in Dallas, Texas. Should they all be subjected to a barrage of hate mail and crank phone calls and risk losing their jobs and being publically humiliated every time someone with that name says something awful? (If it can happen to someone whose name sounds relatively uncommon here, like ‘Yanoski’, it can happen to those of us who have less distinctive names too).

    (That’s always been my problem with the whole “colleges/employers will judge you by what’s on your Facebook” thing too. Privacy issues aside, how does the recruiter or whoever even know that the facebook they found belonging to “Sam Jones” is really the same ‘Sam Jones’ that they’re thinking of? They can’t go by the picture because they don’t know what you look like and your picture might not even be clear. They can’t go by your hometown because you might not live there now. It just seems really bizarre and unfair for someone to potentially lose a job opportunity because they happen to have the same name as a jerk?)

  • Beepymusics

    Those websites are generally referred to as “forums” or “BBSs,” where users must have and maintain persistent identities and take responsibility for the reactions of other users to their views (or not, and be known as rhetorical cowards). You’re right, Slacktivist is not one of them. However, neither is a news outlet’s website, in my view. The function of such a place is to make available the reporting work of it’s employees, and possibly the reactions and analysis of a few columnists, but if users want to discuss the things that are printed there they ought to take it to some location that has the primary function of maintaining persistent identities, such as a church, Rotary Club, cafe, bar, or BBS, rather than forcing the newspaper to perform such duties in addition to their rightful ones.

  • http://twitter.com/FearlessSon FearlessSon

    Plus, obviously the “real name” thing doesn’t work. There are probably a lot of men named “Sam Jones” living in Dallas, Texas. Should they all be subjected to a barrage of hate mail and crank phone calls and risk losing their jobs and being publically humiliated every time someone with that name says something awful? (If it can happen to someone whose name sounds relatively uncommon here, like ‘Yanoski’, it can happen to those of us who have less distinctive names too). 

    I know well this effect.  When I was in late elementary school, a Jamaican man who coincidentally had the same name as me shot several people on a train in Long Island.  

    You can imagine how my peers reacted…

  • http://www.kitwhitfield.com Kit Whitfield

    ‘racially insensitive’?

    i’d hate to see what you had to do to get called racist by that paper. 

  • rizzo

    Yeah that’s rural Pennsylvania.  I’ve lived less than a half hour away from the Hazleton/McAdoo area for most of my life and it’s far more racist here than in most parts of the south.  One of the science teachers in my high school was a wizard of the KKK in the 90′s.  Most of the older Democrats in the area did not vote for Obama because…well they wouldn’t really say why but I get the idea that it was his skin color based on their propensity for throwing the ‘n’ word around in casual conversation. 

    Hazleton is all messed up though, way worse than when I was in college there a bit over a decade ago.  That’s mostly due to its mobbed up former mayor, now one of our Reps, Lou Barletta, however.  He played up the racism angle to get elected and promptly flushed what was left of the city down the toilet.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    Yeah that’s rural Pennsylvania.  I’ve lived less than a half hour away from the Hazleton/McAdoo area for most of my life and it’s far more racist here than in most parts of the south.  One of the science teachers in my high school was a wizard of the KKK in the 90′s.

    The nasty comment I’ve heard was that Pennsylvania is “Philadelphia at one end, Pittsburgh at the other, Kentucky between”.  (I leave it to the reader to decide who’s being insulted worse.)

  • http://twitter.com/Rhysdux Rhysdux

    I find myself again wondering: Does Richard Mark Yanoski, 53, of McAdoo, Pa., attend church?  And, if so, shouldn’t there be some conditions placed on his continued attendance and/or some repercussions for the clerical malpractice of that congregation’s leadership?

    I’m trying to remember anything I’ve ever heard in church about morality. I can’t recall anything. I do recall hearing a lot about special collections because the archbishop wanted a swimming pool. I remember hearing the priest using their sermons as bully pulpits for their political causes.

    But I don’t recall one priest ever preaching about honesty, compassion, moral courage. I don’t recall one ever mentioning immorality, either, unless  it was part of political discussions about things like abortion.  (Basically, “immorality” was code for “has sex with lots of people.”) 

    In twelve years of religion classes, CCD classes, sermons, religious textbooks, and so on, I cannot recall one priest, one nun, one teacher who mentioned morality or sin in relation to everyday, non-political life–not even in passing. In fact, I would not have learned the seven deadly sins or the seven cardinal virtues if for various trivia games.

    I would be amazed if Mr. Yanoski ever heard anything in church that had anything to do with moral ways that people should act in real life.  Religion nowadays seems to be more about reassuring the congregation that they are good and virtuous people and that the sinners are those people who aren’t behaving in a way that politically suits the church.

    Mind you, I’ve read books where churches–or a particular priest or minister–make people want to be better, kinder people. But I’ve never seen it in real life, and given what religion seems to be for these days–reinforcing people’s egos by convincing them that they’re good and righteous and don’t NEED to improve–I don’t think I ever will.

  • Anonymous

    Mind you, I’ve read books where churches–or a particular priest or minister–make people want to be better, kinder people. But I’ve never seen it in real life, and given what religion seems to be for these days–reinforcing people’s egos by convincing them that they’re good and righteous and don’t NEED to improve–I don’t think I ever will.

    Unitarian Universalists are big on social justice. So, I hear, are Quakers. I don’t doubt there’s others.

  • P J Evans

    Since most newspapers already require that you sign up for an account, or have an on-line account somewhere already (usually Facebook), they aren’t ‘open forums’ either.

    (I can’t see that either the kind of account or the name requirement makes any difference to the quality of comments: racists and douchebecks still look like racists and douchebecks. And there are a lot of them who comment.)

  • P J Evans

    man who coincidentally had the same name
    There was a man where my parents lived in Texas who had the same name as my father. They weren’t confusing many people though, because they looked quite different.

  • http://mistformsquirrel.deviantart.com/ JJohnson

    See, the problem here is you’re applying principles like oh… empathy, logic, and a concern for justice.  Sadly the world apparently does not care for these things, because it is stupid.

    Yes the entire goddamn planet, including the dirt.

    /is bitter

  • Anonymous

    There was a man where my parents lived in Texas who had the same name as my father. They weren’t confusing many people though, because they looked quite different.

    Twelve or sixteen years ago we were stationed on the same base as another gentleman named [Daddy Blue] whose wife’s name was subtly different from my mom’s name. She and Mom were pregnant at the same time. Sorting out the medical records was, I’m told, amusing. Nobody’d have confused my parents with the other Blues face to face, because we’re white and they’re black, but just going by names on paper…

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    Mind you, I’ve read books where churches–or a particular priest or
    minister–make people want to be better, kinder people. But I’ve never
    seen it in real life, and given what religion seems to be for these
    days–reinforcing people’s egos by convincing them that they’re good and
    righteous and don’t NEED to improve–I don’t think I ever will.

    Perhaps you should get out more?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    Unitarian Universalists are big on social justice. So, I hear, are Quakers. I don’t doubt there’s others.

    Social justice is kind of a big thing with many of us.

  • Anonymous

    The nasty comment I’ve heard was that Pennsylvania is “Philadelphia at
    one end, Pittsburgh at the other, Kentucky between”.  (I leave it to the
    reader to decide who’s being insulted worse.)

    D’you mind if this Kentucky boy grumbles to himself about presuming monoculture?

  • Rikalous

    The last time my family wanted to take in an exchange student, the background check identified me as a sex offender from a state I’ve never been to. My last name’s a bit more common than Yanoski, so it wasn’t that much of a surprise.

    After my maternal grandparents divorced, Grandpa married another woman with Grandma’s first name, although I don’t think anyone ever mixed them up.

  • Sgt. Pepper’s Bleeding Heart

    Perhaps you should get out more?

    I would like to “like” this post multiple times.

    Rhysdux, may I respectfully suggest that either you live in an atypical environment vis a vis religious people, or you are only seeing what you intend to see. While what you’ve read about in books is not the universal effect of religion on its believers (I wish it was), it’s far, far, far, far from an anomaly.

    Perhaps many of the people who become better, kinder people each passing year and who attribute that to their faith don’t holler about Jesus all the time, so you don’t count them?


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