Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Joseph O. Patton: Give 'em hell, Patricia Todd!

  “I never did give them hell. I just told the truth, and they thought it was hell." -Harry S. Truman

  This week Alabama Representative Patricia Todd (District 54) threw down a gauntlet the size of the Statehouse. Fed up with the hypocrisy, the bullying and the outright lack of humanity from her colleagues, she threatened to out state officials who are engaging in or have engaged in extramarital affairs.

  Todd's righteous anger bubbled over as a result of the venomous, bigoted outcry from top Alabama politicians in response to U.S. District Judge Callie Granade's ruling which struck down Alabama's despicably discriminatory Marriage Protection Act and its related Alabama Constitutional Amendment.

  In her own words from a Facebook post: "This (is) a time where you find out who are accepting, loving people. To say I am disappointed in Speaker Hubbard's comments and Attorney General Strange's choice to appeal the decision is an understatement. I will not stand by and allow legislators to talk about 'family values' when they have affairs, and I know of many who are and have. I will call our elected officials who want to hide in the closet OUT."

  As expected, the usual suspects in Alabama's backward-looking peanut gallery have offered knee-jerk, nasty comments in response to her threat, arguing that her words were childish and tacky, and ironically arguing that such personal activities (affairs) should remain private.

  The irony here is some tasty stuff, ya'll. What could be more "tacky" and "childish" than Alabama lawmakers using their own citizens' tax dollars against them? Imagine being an LGBT person in Alabama in which those charged with representing you are being paid with your tax dollars and are using your tax dollars against you to wage a bigoted war to keep you in your place as a second-class citizen. LGBT persons in Alabama face a daily existence of being denigrated, demonized and discriminated against from the House Speaker's chair to the pulpits of state churches.

  And there's outrage over affairs not remaining private? What about the lives of LGBT persons who as law-abiding, hard-working taxpayers just want to enjoy the same rights as their heterosexual counterparts, in part because Alabama politicians are incessantly using their lives, and specifically their sexuality, in order to pander to hateful bigots? LGBT persons in Alabama are routinely on the receiving end of the type of heated rhetoric typically used to describe terrorists and enemies of the United States.

  Representative Todd is clearly playing hard ball here, but I can't blame her. This is comparable to dealing with a schoolyard bully - most likely the torment, the physical pain inflicted and the humiliation will continue until you finally pop the bully in the mouth. And Patricia Todd ain't one to mess with. These holier-than-thou lawmakers shouldn't dish it out if they can't take it.

  And to be candid, I'm not the biggest fan of Todd's tactic as our politics shouldn't get this low. But with garden variety bullies, sometimes you have to mix it up in the mud to teach them a lesson. Any threat she issues will never come close to the unimaginable hurt inflicted by Alabama lawmakers who have made bashing LGBT persons, opposing basic human rights and fanning the flames of hatred a cornerstone of their political careers. And for any Alabamian who is expressing disgust for her actions and yet doesn't bat an eye over the systematic, morally bankrupt discrimination against their fellow citizens who are LGBT, you have no damn moral standing to criticize her.

  As the days tick through the 14-day stay issued by Granade, issued so that Alabama's Attorney General, a prominent flag-bearer for bigotry, can waste more of our tax dollars foolishly defending an unconstitutional law, I hope Representative Todd doesn't have to follow through on her threat. I hope the hypocrites lurking in the dark corners of the Statehouse will wise up and be forced into a change of heart, but either way I've got her back. I'll help her carry that flag for basic human rights. I'll defend her and anyone else who takes a stand for equality. I'll throw political punches for her... and I'll do it with pride.

  About the author: Joseph O. Patton is the editor-in-chief and founder of the Capital City Free Press. He is a former news editor for the Coosa County News, lead reporter for the Montgomery Independent and editor-in-chief of the AUMnibus, the student newspaper of Auburn-Montgomery. Patton is also the creator of and writer for the satirical news radio segment "Goat Hill Gossip," which previously aired on WAUD in Auburn, Alabama and has appeared on several Central Alabama radio programs as a political analyst.

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