The Montana GOP is learning the hard way that not all publicity is good publicity. On Friday, State Rep. Rodney Garcia sidled up to the microphone at a GOP election event to ask former Montana congressman Ryan Zinke a pointed question about the raging epidemic of socialists “entering our government” and generally ravaging Big Sky Country. Why, wondered Mr. Garcia, were patriotic Montanans not shooting them dead as the Founders intended?
“So actually in the Constitution of the United States (if) they are found guilty of being a socialist member you either go to prison or are shot,” he clarified to reporters later, adding, “They’re enemies of the free state. What do we do with our enemies in war? In Vietnam, (Afghanistan), all those. What did we do?”
Well, yes. But we don’t generally point to the My Lai massacre as the legal standard for behavior in a civil society which is not, in fact, at war with “socialism.”
When pressed, Rep. War Crimes was unable to cite the specific constitutional provision allowing civilians to impose the death penalty on their ideological opponents.
“I agree with my Constitution,” Garcia told the Billings Gazette. “That’s what makes us free. We’re not a democracy, we’re a Republic Constitution.” (Does he mean constitutional republic?)
Citing unspecified Facebook ads, the father of six insisted, “They’re teaching that to kids. Thank God my grandkids know it’s wrong because I teach them. And it’s a very dangerous situation.”
Perhaps Congressman Zinke did perceive a dangerous situation from an obvious lunatic threatening death to anyone who disagrees with him. After all, Montana does take a pretty relaxed approach to concealed carry permitting. Or perhaps Zinke is just a political coward. In any event, faced with Garcia’s ranting, he ducked, saying, “You know, Montana’s a great state.” Which is true, but not an answer.
This is not Mr. Garcia’s first visit to the Crazytown Rodeo. Last March, he told the rightwing conspiracy blog “North West Liberty News” that parents have the right to physically retaliate against Montana Child and Family Services employees investigating child welfare complaints. Or as he described it, “trying to kidnap them.”
“If they don’t like it, they have a right to grab them by the collar and the seat of the pants and throw them out their door,” Garcia said. “They’re invading their personal property.”
Which is excellent legal advice if you want to add an assault charge to the child endangerment file.
In the end it fell to MT GOP executive director Spenser Merwin to correct the record.
“The Montana Republican Party wholeheartedly condemns the comment that was made and under no circumstance is violence against someone with opposing political views acceptable,” he told the Gazette, clarifying that extrajudicial killings are definitely not part of the GOP platform. “It’s disappointing that this isolated incident took away from the weekend’s events which showcased the strength of our statewide candidates and the importance of the upcoming election.”
Your circus, your monkey, Mr. Merwin.
Billings legislator insists Constitution says it’s OK to shoot socialists [Billings Gazette]
Billings lawmaker accuses state employees of ‘kidnapping’ children [Helena Independent Record]
Elizabeth Dye lives in Baltimore where she writes about law and politics.
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