by Lance Grider
I went old school the other day and sent the Billings Gazette a letter to the editor about the race for local office, the Ward 1 city council, where I live. Newcomer Kerri Seekins-Crowe is running against incumbent Brent Cromley. I have never met Mr. Cromley, but I like him, as opposed to my other councilman, the Rev. Mike Yakawich, who I do not like, as explained elsewhere on Little Big Town MT.
I have never met Ms. Seekins-Crowe. I’m sure she is a fine person, wife and mother. But on the political mailings she sends me, and the essays she’s put on her website, she believes opposing last year’s Non-Discrimination Ordinance is a big enough deal alone to disqualify Mr. Cromley. I disagree.
Anyway, here’s what I said:
Why not Vote for the Candidate with the Biggest Signs?
I wish to speak out for feminist leader Kerri Seekins-Crowe for Ward 1 council person. As her name informs us, Seekins-Crowe knows how to put feminine interests first. Got a problem with that?
Seekins-Crowe has demonstrated her ability to govern by having bigger and more plentiful signs than her opponent, the capable Brent Cromley. And gosh, she’s pretty. Seekins-Crowe doesn’t believe in going into debt so I’m guessing she paid for her car and her house in cash.
I believe her big signs were paid for in cash by one of the Koch boys, but hey, cash is still legal tender. For now. The point is, Seekins-Crowe will see to it that Billings will not buy either a new snow plow or a cop until we have the money. Taxes should never be raised any more than grocery prices.
Who needs incumbent Cromley’s years of experience and leadership? We need to pick new, unproven people based on the size of their promises and signs, cross our fingers, close our eyes and hope the best happens. I like to drive that way, too.
They gave this letter the wrong headline. The heading should be drawn from the first paragraph and should have been something like “Supports Feminist Leader for Ward 1 Council seat.” But for whatever reason, the editor disagreed. Fair enough.
Anyway, I was soon besieged by three trolls. You know, those anonymous posters who hide underneath rocks and come up to toss rocks, then scurry back under the Internet bridge. Here’s what they said:
waytogo Oct 27, 2015 5:40pm
It might be hard to decipher where Crowe stands from the Gazette’s purposeful attempt to hide her viewpoints and obfuscate the facts regarding Cromley’s record, but this race isn’t about her looks — or Cromley’s for that matter. The facts are that Crowe represents those of us who are tired of working all day just to see our money fettered away by an irresponsible administration and city council who just rubber stamp all their proposals.
But when you submit an obviously misogynistic letter that is full of alternate truths and diversity of facts, it becomes obvious that there is only one candidate who is capable of really representing this city. His looks and experience and money aside — Brent Cromley is NOT the right candidate for the job because of his viewpoint that spending more than you bring in is still a balanced budget.
Your attempt at humor baffles me. This is a serious race. Since you are questioning where Seekins-Crowe’s campaign contributions come from, I will turn the question back at you. Where do Cromley’s contributions come from? Washington DC and liberal lawyers! Cromley has nothing in common with the hard working folks of the Heights and the South Side. Sorry you don’t like the size of Kerri’s signs. That’s a pretty weak argument.
Ease up a little. He may just be overcompensating for something.
I looked at his blog and read excerpts from his book. This guy really isn’t funny. What’s more insulting is that he has attempted to minimize a woman running for a public office. She is bright and capable and he attempted to reduce her to a pretty picture. No matter how tongue-in-cheek he tried to be, that is just plain offensive and dates him a slightly younger than a Neanderthal.
As a journalist, he knows libel is a serious offense. He could easily have checked the source of Seekins-Crowe’s campaign contributions (as did the Gazette today). Instead he says he believe “her big signs were paid for in cash by one of the Koch boys…” The Gazette really shouldn’t have printed his letter because of that obviously false statement.
So we have three trolls here. The first, waytogo, does not know the name of the candidate she/he supports–or simply refuses to call her by the name she’s chosen to run on. Not much of an endorsement.
(That, of course, was one of the subtle points I was making. How identifying herself as Seekins-Crowe alienates the right-wing base she’s courting. Ha ha!)
The second one, RousingRabble, questions my penis I guess. But I suspect this is her/his go-to argument with anybody who disagrees with her/him. Hm, maybe he’s compensating for something.
Finally we have a two-timer, MASBWS, who accuses me of not taking things ‘seriously.’ We all know how our lives are in danger if we vote wrong on the Ward 1 council race.
On learning that MASBWS doesn’t think I’m funny I fell on the floor and cried for two hours. On the other hand, maybe she/he’s just a bully with no sense of humor.
As to his/her libel argument, pish-posh. Yeah, both the Gazette and I know what libel is, that’s why I wrote what I did and they had no problem printing it. What I wrote ain’t even close to libel. Allow me to unbaffle you MASBWS.
The First Amendment gives anyone and everyone not only the right to be wrong, but the right to lie. Me, you, Major Dan Miller and Kerri Seekins-Crowe. If it didn’t, we’d need a Ministry of Truth, and haul everyone before it for whatever they said or thought whenever they ‘offended’ someone. We decided not to go that way back in 1789. [Donald Trump, of course, wants to return to King George’s mistakes. Or maybe his boss, Czar Vladimir?]
Opinions are protected speech. An opinion like how the Gazette ‘purposely obfuscates’ someone’s record. Or that someone is not funny. Or has a small penis? (Hey, it was big enough to rouse RousingRabble.)
I didn’t say Ms. Seekins-Crowe got money from the Koch boys for her signs – I said I believed that. I believe the Royals will win the World Series. I believe blue is the best color for the sky. Those are opinions, not facts.
Having been a journalist all my life, I’ve always had the courage to sign my name to my opinions. Even on this site, where the Host page identifies what’s going on.
Sadly the Internet has taken us back 200 years. Back to the era of anonymous pamphleteers who could accuse Thomas Jefferson of raping his slaves (which he probably did). But worse than that, the Internet’s anonymity actually encourages trolling. (Yes, I’ve done it myself, been ashamed, and prayed to Elvis for forgiveness.) But that doesn’t make it right.
The Internet threatens to turn us into a nation of cowards who hide behind fake names. That’s why I’m very parsimonious with letting trolls on my blog. I don’t have to. It’s my property, I set the rules.
Ms Seekins-Crowe is wrong, but I salute her courage in running for office. I wrote a tongue-in-cheek letter that clearly got under the skin of her supporters. Just like her name does. I hope her views can evolve. But then I suspect she doesn’t believe in evolution.
UPDATE: Beginning September 6, the Billings Gazette became the latest website to turn off all comments.