Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Richardson Redux: Scourge of Southern Oregon

The statements made by State Representative Dennis Richardson (R-Central Point) last week about gay rights being exactly the same as the murders at Virginia Tech have rightfully sparked outrage against Richardson.

But this is really just the latest in a long line of bigoted, out-of-whack garbage perpetuated by this Southen Oregon scourge.

Interestingly, Richardson's weekly missives are reprinted over at the conservative blog Oregon Catalyst. This week's was no exception.

Oregon Catalyst is affiliated with Taxpayer's Association of Oregon. Jason Williams of TAO helps to manage the blog, and I asked for his comment on Richardson's latest. This is Jason's email response:

At first when you called and mentioned the story I thought "Oh no another politician exaggerating". But upon reading the story I find that there is nothing in his newsletter that tries to equate the killings to recent marriage/rights legislation.

The headline of the article is about reviewing the week, and Richardson goes about detailing what happened in the week in a magazine style format just like he has for his other newsletters (although I sometimes cut out adjoining articles for brevity). Richardson even says he "will address each issue" and has the issues broken up.

Richardson writes about the Virginia Tech issue not by tying anything in the article to local politics but rather giving a very methodical analysis.

Richardson's review of HB 2007 & SB 2 is quite scholarly and lacks a single sentence that tries to paint his disagreement as a catastrophic or violent event. Rep. Richardson's scholarly style is why I like to feature him.

The lack of public reaction to his article on Catalyst is also a testament to the non-connection. Only two people responded with comments and the solitary negative commenter did so two days after the post. In fact, this article tied (with his boring budget analysis) as the most unresponded story of the year out of his 13 newsletters featured.

There is a lot of dumb things said in the Legislature, including by me, and this is not one of them. Richardson errs more on the bland more than on the exaggeration side, and I think the article bears that out and the lack of response reinforces it.

What utter bullshit.

Errs more on the bland? Seriously?

Richardson babbles on about what a tragic week its been..then cites the VTech shootings and the passing of gay rights legislation in the Oregon legislature with no explanation or transition. Its clear he's equating the two.

Further, Richardson's headline appears to have been changed from the time it was published in the newsletter to the time it appeared on Oregon Catalyst. The newsletter headline reads "A Tragic Week In Review". OC's headline reads: "Rep. Richardson: Legislative Week in Review", yet the verbage of the rest of the newsletter is exactly the same. There's no reference to other news whatsoever. If the context wasn't the same, why change the headline?

Richardson has also published other egregiously irresponsible and ridiculous stuff at OregonCatalyst:

One problem with elevating sexual orientation, “perceived” homosexuality, appearance, expression and behavior to a protected, civil rights status is the uncertainty of enforcement. Current protected classes of civil rights are based on who people are, not what they do.

Martin Luther King Jr.'s niece, Alveta Scott King, expressed the difference when she said, "While I have met many former homosexuals, I have yet to meet a former black." On the other side of the issue, former lesbian, Yvette Schneider, asked the thought provoking question when responding to the issue of special rights based on sexual orientation, "Why should I receive less protection now that I am no longer a lesbian?"

Its entirely possible that this is an accurate quote from King, but oddly the only place I can find it cited is via Richardson and this piece. A google search for Alveta King and the quote yields nothing but links to Richardson's piece here and other sites that link to it too. Bizarre that its so obscure, eh?

And how does Richardson square his stated belief that homosexuality is merely "behavior" and not protected, but is a vociferous champion for religious groups to have freedoms? Since when is the practice of religion not a "behavior"? And do the folks at Taxpayer's Association of Oregon and Oregon Catalyst really back what Richardson is saying in these two posts? Or is it just not enough of an "exaggeration"?

Perhaps when Jason stops ducking--he'll come out and make that clear.

But the fun doesn't stop there. Richardson also proposed giving gays and lesbians 3/5ths of the rights of straight couples, in what he deems a compromise. One wonders when the last time was that Richardson bothered to read anything about the inception of the US Constitution--and its wretched view toward African-Americans.

Then there's Richardson's April 16th House Floor debate in which he accused gays and lesbians of being more likely to commit crimes against children. Richardson's accusations have absolutely no basis in scientific fact, but somehow I doubt that science is this guy's strong suit.

Richardson was also one of the few no votes for HB 2700, which placed requirements for sexual assault victims to be told about the morning after pill and dispense if asked and require insurance plans that offer prescrip drug coverage to provide contraception coverage. Hell, even Sal Esquivel and George Gillman (two Medford conservative GOPers) voted in favor of that bill. Does Central Point really not want birth control to be covered by health insurance with other drugs and for sexual assault victims to not be able to keep the sperm of a sex criminal from fertilizing her egg?

Finally, the Merc covered a tidbit stemming from Richardon's website in which he linked to a PDF file called the "Guide To Family Issues". The document was certainly informative, according to the Merc:

On his website, Richardson links to a document called the "Guide To Family Issues" that offers gems like "homosexuals engage in behaviors that are destructive to them and society" and "prevention, early intervention, and treatment for homosexual behavior, while not always 100 percent effective, does work." Additionally, the document, which Richardson referenced in his response to same-sex marriage, equates homosexuality with pedophilia and sexual abuse. He has also urged his House colleagues to reject any efforts at actual civil unions legislation.

Lovely. Its as if Tony Perkins' lips don't move at all when Richardson speaks.

Its one thing to be conservative. Its quite another to be a bigoted homophobe who works overtime to undermine the lives of citizens who do nothing but love someone who happens to be of their same gender. Dennis Richardson owes all of Oregon an apology for his words--but I doubt we'll get it. Somehow humility and grace don't seem to go hand in hand with people who use this kind of hatred to sow their politics.