Leadership: A Cracker and Some Fruit Loops

A Fire Chief, Social Media and Gender Identity

Last week Statter911.com reported that Charlotte, North Carolina, deputy fire chief Jeff Dulin was in the hot seat for a posting from his personal Facebook page.

NC-Charlotte-Jenner-cereal-box-controversy-1.jpg (598×332)

The image appears to show the famed athlete Bruce Jenner on the iconic cereal box as Olympic champion and then again in 2015 with the words “Fruit Loops” behind him.

“Fruit” and “fruit loop” are slang or derogatory terms for homosexuals.

Statter says that, “[the image] makes fun of Bruce Jenner.”

He also suggests that because of a prior incident in Charlotte that a standard of conduct may be in place against material described as, “discriminatory and inflammatory.”

Ignorant and Adolescent, at Least

I doubt that Dulin created the image.

Like many a Facebook poster he saw something that titillated his low-amped grey matter and simply re-posted it.

It’s also very doubtful that he bothered to think through either the imagery or the words.

This makes him the exact opposite of “discriminatory.”

In fact, he’s both indiscriminate and lazy.

Oh, and ignorant, too.

Gender Identity and Expression

Most people take their gender identity and the manner in which they express it as an entirely natural given.

They are totally comfortable with their assigned gender and never give it a second thought.

Some, however, experience deep psychological trauma and pain because their inward gender identity may not match their physical characteristics or their assigned roles.

That trauma can define their life and often result in mental anguish, substance abuse, failed relationships, even suicide.

Dulin’s adolescent post-sharing aside, it is a deadly serious matter: research shows that more than 50% of transgender youth will have at least one suicide attempt by their 20th birthday.

Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation

In Dulin’s apparently very simplified world Bruce Jenner’s possible gender transition makes him queer or fruity.

Gender identity and sexual orientation or attraction are distinctly different.

Dulin’s primary offense is a total lack of critical thinking skills and his apparent knee-jerk reaction in defense of conformist sexuality.

Welcome to the Cracker Barrel

Perhaps Dulin was just “cracking” a joke.

An 18th-century letter to the Earl of Dartmouth defined “cracker”:

“I should explain to your Lordship what is meant by Crackers; a name they have got from being great boasters; they are a lawless set of rascalls on the frontiers of Virginia, Maryland, the Carolinas, and Georgia, who often change their places of abode.”

The lazy “Facebookers” are  ignorant crackers whose reckless images have the power to kill.

If Jenner is transgender and able to withstand the withering public glare as he struggles to become himself, he has (at least) the courage of all of Charlotte’s fire chiefs, fruity or not.


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  • Spartacus says:

    And some people find insult wherever they can, if they try hard enough. Wiktionary and Onlineslangdictionary both indicate that the term means what I always thought the slang meaning was: a crazy person. See, the connection with Bruce is the whole Wheaties box/Fruit-Loops-as-breakfast-cereal thing. The gender thing is a crutch, Eric, and the longer you lean on a crutch you don’t need, the more you’ll need it.

  • Eric Lamar says:

    At best your assertion implies that Jenner, and others are “crazy”, one more example of judgmental, bigoted, ignorant and harmful behavior.


    By the way, does a tough guy like you really need to hide behind a nom-de-guerre?

  • Michael Gove says:

    I, too, thought Froot Loops meant crazy, silly, goofy, or off-center. I’ve also always thought that Bruce Jenner was crazy just for the conditions that he lived in, having nothing to do with his sexuality or gender. This is how he presented himself on a television program that was presented as reality. And, I’m not hiding behind anything.

    • Eric Lamar says:


      Thanks for writing.

      In positions of leadership it often doesn’t matter a wit what you think.

      It matters how your actions are perceived by those you lead.

      But, on this issue, I don’t think people really do much thinking.

      I also don’t think that cereal box connotes “crazy.”

      Since everyone cites Wiki, here’s the Wiki quote for the pejorative usage of “fruit loop.”

      “Jonathon Green, author of Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang, lists several definitions for “Fruit Loops” including … gay men[57] and an area where they hang out and cruise each other.”

      Here’s what a reviewer says about Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang:

      “… You will find entries here that you won’t even find in the 20-volume Oxford-English Dictionary. Unquestionably the best book on slang out there.”

      So, if you were a leader of a diverse force of men and women in our profession would you really head down that road?

      I wouldn’t.

      Social media is a mental speed trap for folks who need to slow down and THINK.


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