Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Blogger misses mark with attempt at humor

GOP candidates and tea partiers aren’t the only ones dealing with backlash over ill-advised online comments these days.
The heavily pro-Democrat blog Montana Cowgirl Blog blew up over the weekend over a post anonymous blogger “Cowgirl” published on Friday. The post suggests that Democratic SD 25 candidate Kendall Van Dyk is more of a “man” than his opponent, incumbent Republican Sen. Roy Brown.
It’s worth pointing out that this race is the most expensive and hotly contested legislative race in the state—and the gloves have been off for a while.
But Cowgirls’ post (and subsequent unapologetic apology) crossed the line with some Democratic Party supporters who took it slap in the face to the state’s LGBT community.
The post, entitled “The Fundamental Difference,” shows an undated photo of a camouflaged Van Dyk posing with a nice mule deer buck he arrowed.
The caption under the photo is “Man.”
The next photo is a blurry photograph (presumably a screenshot from this Brown TV ad) showing Roy Brown in a blue dress shirt and sweater vest and carrying a shoulder bag.
The caption under the photo is “Man Purse.”
The inference, in case you missed it, is that Van Dky is somehow more of a “man” because he dons camouflage and hunts big game while Roy Brown wears sweater vests and carries a “man purse.” If you have doubts about the implications of the term “man purse,” look it up in the Urban Dictionary.
About the point of the post, Cowgirl had this to say:
The point of this post is to compare Brown’s country club elitism with Kendall’s Montana roots.
And while some of the online commenters found the post hilarious, several others saw it as gay baiting.
Jamee Greer, an organizer for the Montana Human Rights Network and an openly gay man, had this to say:
This is the gay baiting crap that I have had enough of. If I lived in Billings, I’d most certainly vote for Kendall van Dyk! Brown is no friend of, well, most of the human rights issues I advocate for during the session. But his fondness for argyle, messenger-ish man purse bags and his only-too-recently acquired hunting license, not to mention famed vegetarianism, means what, exactly? That he’s too “faggy” for Montana? Why are progressives using coded language? Eastern Montana has gay and lesbian voters, trans voters, allied voters. Don’t slap us in the face.
As Greer points out, this isn’t the first time Brown’s status as a “real Montanan” has been called into question by left. During his 2008 campaign against Democratic Gov. Brian Schweitzer, Brown responded to rumors spread by the Montana Democratic Party that he is…gasp…a vegetarian! and thus unqualified to serve as governor of a state in which cattle ranching is such an important part of the economy.
For the record, Brown denied that he is now, or ever has been, a vegetarian. 
Cowgirl and her supporters maintain that the post is merely an attempt at humor, and she repeatedly asserts that she was not inferring anything about sexuality. But some readers don’t buy it, like Helena immigration attorney Shahid Haque-Hausrath:
Most of your readers, like me, are staunch progressives who have no allegiance to Roy Brown. Your post was offensive because you glibly engaged in offensive rhetoric about gender roles and masculinity. There is only one way to interpret your post: you portray Kendall as a “real man” and cast Roy Brown as an effeminate man, who therefore isn’t a “real Montanan.”
As I read this exchange, I wonder if those who found this post funny would find it equally funny if the shoe were on the other foot? If, for example, a GOP-leaning blogger were to suggest that openly-gay Democratic HD 92 candidate Bryce Bennett was less of a man than Don Harbaugh, his Republican opponent, would Cowgirl and her supporters find it amusing?
I suspect not.
Cowgirl, whoever she is, has in the past vehemently attacked conservatives for offensive comments aimed at gays and minorities. But in this case, the self-proclaimed feminist blogger seems to have abandoned her principles in the interest of scoring a few political points.
Greer has been accused by some anonymous commenters of hurting progressive candidates by continuing to point out why Cowgirl’s post was offensive. But Greer says the real harm done here is to Montana’s LBGT community:
Whatever potential anti-gay, anti-feminist votes, if any, are picked up for Kendall by making fun of men who are effeminate, “elitist” or “stylish” or “sissies”– let’s just say “faggy” — none of those votes are worth the damage done to the LGBT community in return.
 UPDATE: Montana Cowgirl points out in the comments section below that she offered an apology here.


david said...

Good on you for highlighting this -- it does indeed reek of hypocrisy by Cowgirl -- if the shoe (or "man purse") had been on the other foot, party-wise, she would have hollered to high heaven about it. Thanks.

Unknown said...

Thanks for shining some light on this, John. If a simple apology had been forthcoming, I am sure this would have blown over immediately. But when the blogger(s) dug in their heels and stated that they had done nothing wrong -- and actually exacerbated the problem by referring to those who were offended as "metrosexuals" -- it became important to call this out for what it was.

We expect better from anyone who claims to speak for the progressive movement, even if they are anonymous. With all the controversy this has generated, I hope it sends an important message to Democrats to think more carefully about how their statements can be marginalizing to others in their party.

Anonymous said...

appealing to the lowest common denominator is appalling no matter which party uses it.

Montana Cowgirl said...

Respectfully, you did not link to my apology, which is posted here: http://mtcowgirl.com/2010/10/17/metro/#comment-6105

If those who read my blog and my many posts against homophobic acts want to believe that I intended to engage in "gay-baiting," so be it.

Moorcat said...

Her later comments (including the ones she has made in her latest post about the news story we are discussing, lend the lie to her buried apology. She continues to maintain that she has done nothing wrong and that people should just "get over it". Worse, she is using the excuse "well everyone does it" and it rings just as insincere as it does when anyone else uses that excuse. I hope she is outed and I want to know who is investigating the idea of a public employee (at worst) or public resources (at best) being used to promote this disgusting agenda

Anonymous said...

Didn't Mtcowgirl simply point out what is implicit in all these campaign ads with candidates posing with guns and dead animals? Isn't Kendal Van Dyk saying, "hey, look. I'm a real Montana man," when he distributes pictures of himself acting like a "man." The whole thing is tacky.

I'd have more respect if he had the balls to post a picture of himself marching in a gay pride parade, but that's not how you win elections in Montana, where, apparently, we respond to the real man image.

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