In their efforts to prove to the world that no, they really aren't riddled throughout with extremist nutcases, leaders of the Tea Party movement in Montana this week actually managed to demonstrate that, well, yes they are.
First came the comments of state Tea Party chairman Tim Ravndal on Facebook, via Montana Cowgirl:
Tim 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”
Kieth Scranton: “How dare you exercise your First Amendment Rights?”
Dennis Scranton: “I think fruits are decorative. Hang up where they can be seen and appreciated. Call Wyoming for display instructions.”
Tim Ravndal: “@Kieth, OOPS I forgot this aint[sic] America no more! @ Dennis, Where can I get that Wyomingprinted instruction manual?”
Oops! That was too much for the now PR-conscious movement:
The president of a Montana tea party group has been kicked out of the organization for an exchange on his Facebook page that appeared to condone violence against homosexuals.
The Big Sky Tea Party Association's board of directors voted Sunday to remove Tim Ravndal from the group after members learned of the online conversation in July that began with a comment about an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit over rights for same-sex couples.
Ravndal, who was elected to the position in August, apologized over the weekend after being contacted by The Great Falls Tribune, which first reported the story. That didn't halt the board's decision.
"We continually make it known that we will not tolerate bigoted dialogue, behavior or messages at our functions, our meetings or within our ranks," 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."
Well, this just infuriated Ravndal's friends and supporters -- notably Kristi Allen-Gailushas, who happens also to be the Republican nominee for a state legislative seat:
Kristi Allen-Gailushas, secretary of the Big Sky Tea Party Association and Republican nominee for a Helena-area legislative seat, is quitting the group following its removal of president Tim Ravndal for anti-gay comments made on his Facebook page.
"They didn't even listen to Tim and what he had to say," she said. "They were just worried about the [Montana] Human Rights Network and the ACLU and what they were going to say."
The Montana Human Rights Network advocates for gay rights and had called for Ravndal's removal.
Ravndal was ejected from the group Sunday after a post on his Facebook page appeared to make light of the 1998 murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard -- a killing that has remained a symbol of anti-gay violence.
Allen-Gailushas said Ravndal wasn't even referring to the Shepard case, and that his comments were taken out of context.
She said she would submit her resignation from the association at Tuesday night's meeting.
She may have also been heading for trouble with the group’s board, following the revelation of one of her own Facebook postings that takes aim at gay people.
The Independent Record obtained an image of her Facebook page with her posting, "The Gay community wants a war…they've got one!!"
The image atop the post, incidentally, is Allen-Gailushaus's profile shot at Facebook.
She first made news a couple of weeks ago by filing a lawsuit against the Helena School District for its health and anti-bullying curriculum -- appearing with Ravndal when she made the announcement:
A Helena mother says the final adoption of a highly controversial proposed health curriculum will cause her and her children “irreparable harm” and is asking a District Court judge to intervene.
Kristi Allen-Gailushas filed a complaint Friday afternoon against the Helena School District and the state Office of Public Instruction.
“The tyranny cannot continue,” Allen-Gailushas said.
Just imagine: If you're a Republican from Helena, that's who you get vote for in the 82nd District. You should be so proud.
As should all the Tea Party folks. If you keep removing all your bigots, you won't have a movement left.