Jesse Kelly is a conservative radio host and contributor to the right-wing website the Federalist who has appeared on Fox News and even went “undercover” at Kavanaugh protests. His body of work evinces a limited view of what’s manly (sports, the military guns) and what’s not (“snowflakes,” college students, liberals). But in a surprising turn of events, Kelly expressed his narrow views with a tweet mocking his own son.
Over the weekend, Kelly’s son participated in a Lego robotics tournament and rather than share his pride for his son’s accomplishment, he decided to take the opportunity to poke fun at his son’s hobby and imply that anyone participating in the tournament was disappointing their dad. The tweet proved to be divisive but it turns out Kelly was just getting started and went on to share his less-than-enthusiastic perspective on having to spend his time watching his son flex his STEM skills.
After a few more tweets expressing shock that robotics competitions have announcers and trophies, Kelly implied that he’d need lots of alcohol to spend a day watching his son do something that’s educational and that he enjoys.
As you would expect and as Kelly, a seasoned Twitter troll, likely hoped, it quickly attracted lots of indignant responses. This tweet from former major league pitcher Brandon McCarthy, whose career Kelly would likely prefer his robotics-loving son imitate, was typical of many of the replies.
Parents jumped into the controversy as well, expressing pride in their own kids’ achievements and modeling for Kelly what it might be like to encourage your kids’ interests even if you don’t necessarily share them.
And while there were certainly plenty of responses colored by opposition to Kelly’s politics, he also attracted opprobrium from those in the conservative movement like NRA activist Dana Loesch.
Kelly continued his trolling by retweeting comments excoriating him and doubling down on his denigration of robotics. And if you thought Kelly’s wife would have the good sense to tell him to knock it off, you’ll be disappointed.
Kelly maintains that the whole thing was meant as a joke, but that doesn’t answer the question of why he chose his own son, of all of the topics in the world, as the target of his mocking, however well-intentioned. If his goal was to gin up attention for himself, Kelly was successful. If his goal was to be a decent dad, he missed the mark.