There’s an old saying, well, it’s actually an old song from South pacific, that says ‘you have to be taught to hate,’ and last week, out there in Wyoming, Republican ... because, of course ... Senator Mike Enzi gave a Master Class in hate; and stupidity.
Speaking to a group of high school and middle school students, Enzi started off saying that it was just fine to be a member of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or queer community, but if you’re open about it, well, don’t be surprised if you get picked on, beat up, or worse.
It all began when a student at Greybull High School and Middle School asked Enzi what he was doing to support LGBTQ people in Wyoming:
“What work are you and your comrades doing to improve the life of the LGBT community in Wyoming? How do you plan to help Wyoming live up to its name as ‘The Equality State?’”
And Enzi did the Side-Step:
“There are a lot of problems that don’t have a federal, one-size-fits-all solution. Everything can’t be done by law; that’s one of the problems we have in this country, thinking that everything could be done by law. What we need to have is a little civility between people.”
Huh. He started to answer a question about LGBTQ people without ever mentioning LGBTQ people; but he wasn’t finished:
“We always say that in Wyoming you can be just about anything you want to be, as long as you don’t push it in somebody’s face. I know a guy who wears a tutu and goes to bars on Friday night and is always surprised that he gets in fights. Well, he kind of asks for it. That’s the way that he winds up with that kind of problem. I’d be interested in any solutions that you have for how we can make that work better.”
Wait, so a guy wears a tutu to a bar, gets beat up, and it’s his fault? Isn’t that a little like saying a woman who dresses provocatively is asking to get raped? And aren’t we beyond that kind of thought?
Apparently not ... for Republicans ... in Wyoming.
Enzi, after being told that his comments were offensive, and could be seen as kind of approving of gay bashing—because the guy asked for it, you know, dressing like that—released an apology:
“I believe all individuals should be treated with respect. I do not believe that anyone should be bullied, intimidated or attacked because of their beliefs. Wyoming’s population is made so great by its mixture—and tolerance—of differing value and belief systems. Our live and let live approach is one of the great aspects of our state. It is important that our students learn that the importance of respecting all people and how it is incumbent on those in the communities we live in to treat others as you would want to be treated. It is such a simple lesson ― it is never permissible to hurt another. Hatred in any form is destructive to the very foundation upon which our society is built.
No person, including LGBT individuals, should feel unsafe in their community. My message was intended specifically to be about promoting respect and tolerance toward each other. I hope if people look at the entirety of my speech, they will understand that. I regret a poor choice of words during part of my presentation. None of us is infallible and I apologize to anyone who has taken offense. No offense was intended. Quite the opposite in fact, and so I ask for your understanding as well.”
Okay, I’ll give him props for such a speedy apology, and for actually mentioning LGBT people, but it wasn’t a poor choice of words; it was clearly stated that if a man dresses a certain way, and by extrapolation, acts a certain way, then he’s asking for trouble. And no one should be bullied, beaten, or murdered because of the way they look, dress or act, or whom they love.
It isn’t lost on me, or possibly anyone, that it was in Wyoming where Mathew Shepard was beaten and left for dead, tied to a fence in the middle of nowhere, but I had hoped times would have changed.