Thursday, June 21, 2012

Nitwits and Nooses

If there's a season to test the limits of the sacred and the profane, it's can reliably be kicked off with a primary election. This year is no exception. I've just learned of the bullet-riddled Obama Presidential Library as Outhouse, featured first on a float during a Memorial Day parade and then parked outside of hotel hosting the Montana Republican Convention.

Will Deschamps, the new party chair for Montana, declared that he doesn't intend to "agonize" over the display nor, apparently, does he intend to denounce the stunt or impose some discipline upon his ranks.

This display follows a similar incident at the Custer County Republicans booth at the Eastern Montana Fair in 2009, in which was hung the display of a noose propped with anti-Obama literature and a sign that proclaimed, "Don't Make Us Use This!"

All in good fun, right? At least that's the attitude of these local pranksters who invite their fellow Montanans to join in the fun, in a place where guns and rank humor at the expense of women and other minorities are regular cafe conversation. Besides, there's a paucity of persons of color beyond the reservations of Montana so who could possibly take offense to these kinds of stunts? After all, Indians don't really count. Well,  my friends, welcome to the national spotlight.

As a boy, I once lent my copy of "Let 'er Buck!" to an older and wise mechanic, a friend of the family. I was an aspiring bullrider at the time and this account of life on the rodeo circuit was enough to feed those adolescent road and arena fantasies to the point of indigestion. It was also spiced with profanity in abundance.

So, when our mechanic friend returned the book after a couple of weeks later, I was anxious for his report and shared enthusiasm for "Let 'er Buck!". When I asked for it as he handed back my book, he just shook his head and said, "The English language is a perfect tool for saying what you need to say, without resorting to every four-letter word imaginable. To resort to the kind of language peppered throughout this book is the mark of minds too stupid or lazy to use a good tool with care."

So it is with political argument. Is it really necessary to remind the leadership of the Montana Republican Party that there are any number of ways to make sound political arguments without resorting to bigotry, misogyny, stupidity, or violent imagery? If so, then whether your preference is indoor or outdoor plumbing, this democracy has already been flushed.

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