New York Times
August 24, 2007
By Jesse McKinley
SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 23 — The personal assistant of the top general in the California National Guard has been placed on leave after revelations that the aide’s personal Web site contained derogatory statements about women, jokes about black Jamaicans as “cannibals,” and violent references.
The assistant, Senior Airman Travis Gruber, who acted as the driver to Maj. General William H. Wade II, the guard’s adjutant general, maintained the Web site www.howtokillpeople.com
. The suspension was first reported in The Contra Costa Times.
Lt. Col. Jon Siepmann, a spokesman for the Guard, said that Airman Gruber, 27, had been placed on paid administrative leave on Wednesday, pending an investigation. He added that Airman Gruber had been warned about his Web site last summer.
“He was counseled on the impact of perceptions and the potential negative perceptions from posting these things,” Colonel Siepmann said.
The site includes off-color commentary and postings like the 50 worst comic book characters. (Airman Gruber is not fond of Superman). But the site sometimes dips into more offensive territory. “Everyone on earth needs to die,” reads a satirical letter addressed to the singer Sheryl Crow. “That’s really the only option. If you think about it Hitler probably wasn’t a genocidal maniac. He was probably a staunch conservationist who realized that people were the greatest threat to our world — not terrorism or the erosion of civil liberties.”
In a section about his honeymoon in Jamaica, there is a picture of a man carrying a rifle pointed at three black men in tribal attire. “You cannibals won’t be ruining my honeymoon,” the caption reads. In another post, Mr. Gruber, a state employee, insults Maria Shriver, wife of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, calling her mouth a “gaping maw.”
On the Web site on Thursday, Airman Gruber apologized for embarrassing the guard, saying his postings were meant to be funny. “In no way, shape or form do I condone acts of violence or aggression,” he wrote.
Reached by e-mail, Airman Gruber said: “The opinions and views, including those that are controversial (i.e. woman bashing, over the top violence et. al.), are meant to be so satirical and over the top that one would be hard pressed to take them seriously. It’s meant to be funny and sarcastic and a forum to vent.”
Investigators will determine if Airman Gruber violated California military code, including the guard’s general article, which forbids actions “contrary to the good order and discipline of the service.” But Colonel Siepmann cautioned that free speech would have to be considered as well.
“This is blogging,” he said. “This is new ground for us as well.”