Last Thursday, at a Tea Party speaking event in Tennessee, the Republican congressional candidate Ron Kirkland spoke about President Obama's stance on Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Kirkland, a Vietnam veteran, described his time in the military thusly: "I can tell you if there were any homosexuals in that group, they were taken care of in ways I can't describe to you." Fellow Republican House candidate Randy Smith chimed in: "I definitely wouldn't want to share a shower with a homosexual. We took care of that kind of stuff, just like (Kirkland) said."
Kirkland and Smith have since walked back on their comments--Kirkland says he was making "a joke," while Smith, who has a gay daughter, says that he was offering a serious warning about the hazing gays face in the military--but that hasn't stopped the expressions of outrage from spectators who read the remarks as an endorsement of homophobic violence.
- Hate Speech, Plain and Simple For Ed Brayton of ScienceBlogs, there's no ambiguity here. "Everyone knows that the best way to help any group avoid being bashed is to keep them in a perpetual state of inequality," he writes, with an almost audible eye-roll. "You're a bigot. Stop pretending not to be and just own up to it."
- An Insult to the Troops An item at Queerty suggests that Kirkland's comments reveal "what he thinks about American soldiers. Namely, that they would all intentionally inflict harm on their comrades ... Does hazing in the military exist? Sure. But here's a military veteran recommending keeping a discriminatory policy in place because straight soldiers — trusted to hunt down terrorists, keep conflict areas peaceful, and maintain this nation's security — cannot be trusted not to inflict harm on their own. Yeah, vote for THIS GUY."
- Where Are the Tea Party Denouncements? wonders Libby Post at the Albany Times Union, noting that Kirkland and Smith were speaking in front of a predominately Tea Party audience. "Everyone tells me the Tea Partiers are just about less government and lower taxes and not social issues," Post writes. "If that’s the case, why haven’t we heard any Tea Party people anywhere come to the defense of the LGBT community?"