Caleb Reynolds is a contestant on the upcoming season of the CBS reality show "Big Brother," and, if you listen to some media reports, he's also a racist, homophobic, "PTSDy" threat to the other contestants.
But his family says that characterization couldn't be further from the truth, and that the media beating of their son is taking them by surprise.
"We weren’t ready for this," Paul Reynolds, Caleb's father, told TheBlaze.
Much of the vitriol being directed at Caleb stems from the discovery of an Instagram conversation from 2012, when Caleb lamented Barack Obama's reelection and got into an argument with another Instagram user.
After many messages back and forth, Caleb used an anti-gay slur and then referred to Obama as a "Muslim monkey."
"It was a political debate," explained Paul. "That screenshot doesn’t show the full context of the discussion."
Paul acknowledged that his sons words may have been ill-advised, but he said it's completely unfair that the media is extrapolating from that one incident to label his son as bigoted.
"Caleb never says an ill word about anybody," said his father. "It was completely out of character for him to get that upset."
Caleb's family and friends are pulling out an old standby defense for those accused of being racist: pointing to black friends.
At least one black friend of Caleb's took to YouTube to vouch for him.
Paul said some in the media have been questioning his son's mental state, alleging that his status as a veteran and his affinity for hunting make him a threat to the other contestants.
"They're saying he has PTSD and he's liable to go off and murder somebody," Paul said.
Paul said the attacks on Caleb for his military service and conservative values are despicable, and they don't do justice to his son's continued service.
Caleb works as an adventure guide for Veterans Xtreme Adventures, the non-profit organization that his father founded and which provides wounded veterans with hunting opportunities and other therapeutic excursions.
Caleb is also a veteran himself.
"If you're conservative, Christian and patriotic you just about have to run and hide in this world," Paul said.
He theorized that many of the "haters" lambasting his son were engaging in stereotyping of their own, pegging Caleb as a homophobic racist because of his Southern accent and Christian beliefs — and that one, ill-advised Instagram post provided them with all the fodder they needed to lay into him.
The family has deleted Caleb's Instagram account since the story first broke.
Some, including TMZ, have speculated that the producers behind "Big Brother" selected Caleb purposefully in an attempt to boost ratings.
Last season, ratings jumped dramatically after the airing of racist and anti-gay comments by castmembers, and it's possible CBS was looking to replicate that success by having Caleb act as a resident racist.
But if that was their goal, it won't work, Caleb's dad said.
"Caleb is not a racist or a homophobe, he’s the furthest thing from it," Caleb's father told TheBlaze. "He's being labeled being a hateful person, when he's the most lovable guy that’s out there."
Caleb's competing on "Big Brother" as part of a larger effort to jump-start his singing and modeling careers, Paul said, though the show may provide an opportunity to witness to his faith and values as well.
"We can only hope he’ll maintain himself like he was raised and like he really is," Paul said. "I hope he becomes a witness. I also don’t want him to became the ugly Christian that turns everyone off."
Season 16 of "Big Brother" premieres Wednesday at 8 p.m. EST on CBS.
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