05 June 2012

“None so blind as those that will not see."
   - Matthew Henry, Presbyterian minister and writer

The war against women in the United States can’t continue without a few casualties. 

Among them, Jay Townsend, former spokesperson for Rep. Nan Hayworth (R-NY), who just this past week unleashed a nationwide firestorm of criticism when he wrote a Facebook comment that suggested an act of terrorism be perpetrated on female Democratic senators. A lot has been written about Mr. Townsend’s comment since he penned it, with thousands of people weighing in on what actions might be necessary as a result. On the Huffington Post, though, commenter “mtomasic” did a good job of laying out the timeline in response to the story:
1. Saturday, June 26 - "hurl some acid at those female democratic Senators who won’t abide the mandates they want to impose on the private sector."
2. Friday, June 1 - "Townsend issued the apology two days after Hayworth's campaign put out a statement calling the uproar over the comments a 'manufactured controversy.'
3. Sunday, June 3 - "I posted a stupid, thoughtless, and insensitive comment on a facebook page. It was stupid because my words were easily misconstrued; thoughtless because my choice of words obscured a point I was trying to make, and insensitive because some have interpreted the comment as advocating a violent act."
4. Monday, June 4 - "A statement from Hayworth's campaign was posted online. "Jay Townsend has offered, and I have accepted, his resignation from his position with my campaign," it read. "Now let’s return to talking about issues that really matter to families: job creation, spending restraint and economic development."
In summary, "hurl acid at female, Democratic Senators" is a manufactured controversy, that was stupid, thoughtless and insensitive, but didn't cost him his job, nor was it serious until ten days later - now let's return to the issues - stupid, thoughtless, insensitive female, Democratic Senators.

There are a few things that bother me about this whole “manufactured controversy.” 

First, since when does an opthalmologist (Hayworth’s actual profession when she’s not busy being a Tea Party tool), stand for talk about an act that usually blinds its victims? You’d think that with her education and training in the field, she’d have been outraged even by the mere suggestion of “hurling acid” at anyone, knowing what the outcome could be, wouldn’t you?

Second, why wasn’t Jay Townsend immediately arrested by federal officers after the offending comment came to light? According to Cornell’s Law School, statute 18 USC 115 prohibits anyone from threatening an elected official with physical harm over a political disagreement. The statute reads: “Whoever— … (B) threatens to assault, kidnap, or murder, a United States official, a United States judge, a Federal law enforcement officer, or an official whose killing would be a crime under such section, with intent to impede, intimidate, or interfere with such official, judge, or law enforcement officer while engaged in the performance of official duties, or with intent to retaliate against such official, judge, or law enforcement officer on account of the performance of official duties, shall be punished…” Can it get any clearer? Last I knew, female Democratic senators were United States officials.

Third, who actually believes that Townsend’s apology is genuine? When apologies get made, they typically don’t make excuses. The purpose of an apology is to exhibit contrition and remorse -- as in, say, “I’m sorry for what I did, and I beg your forgiveness.” Instead, Townsend serves up a tasty mash of, “I was stupid (because you’re not smart enough to understand what I wrote); "I was thoughtless" (because I’m not smart enough to stay focused on what I was trying to say instead of grand-standing); "I was insensitive" (because some of you are too literal-minded).”

Worse, he never actually manages to cough up an apology to the female Democratic senators, in whose faces said putative acid would be hurled.

And fourth, does it bother anyone besides me that Hayworth didn’t fire Townsend’s sorry behind the minute she read those offending, hateful words of his? In fact, Townsend remained on the payroll for ten, TEN, days after this came to light. In the end, Hayworth didn’t fire him, either – he resigned, and she accepted his resignation.

Hayworth has now asked her constituents and critics to set the matter aside, and “get back to the business” of paying attention to what’s important. Forgive me, but at this point, I don’t thing there is anything more important than clearing the halls of Congress of every person who exhibits traits of misogyny or endorses hate crimes.

It's up to us, the mothers, daughters, sisters and friends of the women in this nation, to spread the word – and vote them out. These people are not the “lesser” evil, believe me.

Excuse me. I have to take a hard look with clear, unburned eyes at all the people who are likely to show up on November’s ballot. I hope you will, too.


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