As Trump’s America is emerging from the shadows, hate speech is becoming more prevalent and more permissive minute by minute. This time, a Donald Trump supporter who publicly posted on Facebook about hanging homosexuals in the style of Matthew Shepherd will be permitted to cast one of Donald Trump’s three electoral college votes in Montana, according to several news outlets reported Tuesday.
According to The Billings Gazette, Dennis Scranton, a 92-year-old WWII veteran, was responding to a 2010 Facebook post by Big Sky Tea Party Association President Tim Ravndal. While the post has since been deleted, the exchange went as follows,
Ravndal: “Marriage is between a man and a woman period! By giving rights to those otherwise would be a violation of the Constitution and my own rights.”
Scranton: “I think fruits are decorative. Hang up where they can be seen and appreciated. Call Wyoming for display instructions.”
Ravndal responded: “Where can I get that Wyoming printed instruction manual?”
Scranton replied: “Should be able to get info in the Gazette archives. Maybe even an illustration. Go back a bit over 10 years.”
The conversation appears to reference the 1998 death of University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard, who was brutally beaten and tied to a fence post and investigators concluded that Shepard was killed because he was gay. His death prompted a wave of LGBTQ activism intent on preventing anti-gay hate crimes in the future.
According to the report, Ravndal was fired from his position as president of his local Tea party two days later.
“We continually make it known that we will not tolerate bigoted dialogue, behavior or messages at our functions, our meetings or within our ranks, party Chairman Jim Walker said in a statement. “If a person demonstrates bigotry relative to sex, ethnicity, etc., they are not welcome in our organization. The Tea Party movement is about standing up for individual freedom for everyone.”
This swift crushing of offensive rhetoric by a group as notoriously extreme as the Tea Party in 2010 only highlights how Trump’s America has normalized such statements.
Montana Democrats have called this recurring hateful language a “troubling pattern” among Montana Republican leaders. Scranton, for his part, remains unrepentant.
“Don’t forget, I’m 93 years old,” Scranton said told reporters. “I come from a different era. I hadn’t heard of anyone being homosexual until I joined the Navy, and then I encountered them. We were raised with good morals.”
Despite his outrageous and hateful remarks, Scranton will cast his electoral vote for Donald Trump on December 14th.