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February 23, 2024 10:26 AM UTC

It's Getting Pretty Ugly Under The Dome

  • by: Colorado Pols
Rep. Brandi Bradley (R).

Colorado Public Radio’s veteran Capitol correspondent Bente Birkeland reports on seething acrimony from certain excitable members of the GOP House micro-minority, over bills this year that pertain to the decidedly not intertwined issues of protecting LGBTQ+ rights and penalties for crimes related to human trafficking and sexual assault on minors. The fact that we are talking about these separate pieces of legislation together is a pretty good indicator of where Republicans are dragging all of these debates.

To the gutter.

Bills that touch on trans rights — especially those of trans youth — are politically fraught at the state Capitol. These floor debates come on the heels of a week of acrimonious social media back-and-forths over an entirely separate bill related to child prostitution, which has served to further increase tensions.

“We continue to work on our decorum,” said Democratic Speaker of the House Julie McCluskie…

The trouble began late last week when legislation sponsored by far-right Rep. Brandi Bradley, House Bill 24-1092 imposing mandatory minimum sentences for a variety of child sex crimes was killed in the House State Affairs Committee. This prompted an inflammatory response from Rep. Bradley on social media, in which Bradley seems to excuse the death threats Democratic lawmakers were receiving:

The eight democrats on state affairs voted to let pedophiles roam the streets and prey on our children. They could have voted yes to protect our children but they didn’t and now they have opened Pandora’s box. If you are receiving death threats for the way YOU voted, that has nothing to do with me… [Pols emphasis]

Speaking to CPR, Rep. Bradley shows no remorse, and even doubles down on the mob-style deflection:

Bradley defended her posts and said if Democrats are receiving death threats it’s because of their votes, not her comments. [Pols emphasis]

“We have people on social media that advocate for dangerous things. I haven’t liked a single comment that was calling for a wood chipper or a noose,” Bradley told CPR. “I don’t think I was inciting threats. I think that you can publicly speak out about a vote that was horrific and is not going to do justice for children.”

So, we don’t want to offend anyone who recently watched Sound of Freedom and came away from its questionable premise ready to charge the nearest Comet Ping Pong, but what we have here is a policy disagreement over what all sides agree is a problem, not the final showdown between good and evil. The trouble comes from ideologically strident lawmakers for whom every issue is exactly that, driven to new levels of emotion by a social media culture that conjures up the most horrendous possible motives of their opponents, and proceeded from there in this case to threaten the lives of Colorado lawmakers.

With, to quote Rep. Bradley once again just idly repeating what she saw online so don’t take it personally, “a wood chipper or a noose.”

Rep. Bradley knows how to start a snowball of misinformed outrage rolling, but she doesn’t know how to stop it–assuming she even cares to. We haven’t seen any instance of Bradley stating unequivocally that death threats against fellow lawmakers are wrong, instead blaming the lawmakers being threatened for “opening Pandora’s box” by voting against her bill. In previous years, condoning death threats against fellow lawmakers like that would have made headlines. In 2024, House Minority Leader Rose Pugliese just shrugs the madness off:

[Pugliese] was firm that she will not try to regulate what Republican lawmakers say in the chamber, or write online.

“All of our elected officials on both sides have a First Amendment constitutional right to free speech, and we support that. We don’t control our members.”

Apparently no one does, and that’s going to make for a long, ugly session of the Colorado General Assembly.


13 thoughts on “It’s Getting Pretty Ugly Under The Dome

  1. Performative Neo-Fascism. It's about seeking power and getting attention.

    We live in a world where the media no longer functions as a public square. Newspapers are dead, and so is Walter Cronkite. The only way to break through to an audience is through outrage. This explains the Republican Party since Sarah Pailin through Loren Boebert, not to mention the shock-troops of the NRA, anti-abortion and QANON.

    The only important thing is if the outrage gets you into the news or into the social media feeds of your followers.

    Trump's narcissism and showmanship has functioned as a violent wedge into the popular psyche. Look at Trump's politics of insult. Fascism/Authoritariansim is built out of violent fantasies, and making objects of the others – gays, dark-skinned people, immigrants, women, liberals. 

    1. Close, Park Hill, but I'd say we live in a world where the media has abandoned its responsibility for the public sphere to reap profits from outrage. Cronkite is almost certainly spinning in his grave.

      I get that the media are facing extinction financially, but if this is the crap they encourage (and they do), the whole industry deserves to die.

      1. Not really intending to disagree, Meiner, but the phrase about media "if it bleeds, it leads" is quite old. As is the old Paul Simon line "I don't believe what I read in the papers, they're just out to capture my dime."  Maybe these days it's been replaced by "rage at the top of the page" or something.

        I do think there is still good journalistic work out there, but maybe that's just little ol' me with my finger in a dike that's about to collapse.

      2. Don't know what "profits" you think come from outrage…. seems incompatible with the "failing" media organizations I read about frequently.

        My communication schooling tells me that media reflects the society, not forming it.

      1. There are superheroes among us, kwt. Michael comes pretty close.🙂

        It is important..nay, essential, we each search for that hero in ourselves. More than anything, we must stop the MAGA political movement. Trump has become a sideshow. The damage is happening every day. Our children will grow to accept this as normal. We can't let that happen. You have a front row seat to observe the effect the relentless MAGA LieSpeak has on the young ones. Is it as bad as I think? Or is there hope?


        Naomi Klein warned us. The Free Market Experiment cannot succeed in a democracy. The New Deal is the target, autocracy is the means.

        The answer…VOTE BLUE!! No matter who!

        1. I mostly teach adults, now, Duke. There's a wide spectrum of opinions among the recovering addicts and ex-felons with whom I work: from Trumpers to eco-anarchists. They see Trump as an uber-successful con man, and some admire him for that.
          . Fox news is prevalent in institutions, as everywhere. 

          The last place I taught youth was in CD4 in 2015- 2019, and there was lots of enthusiasm for Trump among the white kids. Immigrant and Latine teens, about 30% of students, were more fearful than respectful. They understood that he was a threat to their extended families. Females , trans, and LGBT kids in general were leery about the bragging Grabber who denied their bodily autonomy. 

          Nowadays, young people I see are still anti-Trump, but also highly averse to Biden, not because of age,  ut because of the slaughter of kids like them and younger in Gaza. They see Biden as condoning, if not abetting. 

          i agree with you about Michael's qualities as an effective organizer and spokesperson, if not superhero🦸‍♂️


  2. Intellectually, Bradley is way outside of the guardrails.  She's aligned with just about every hate group in the area…FEC United, CPAN, Freedom Fathers, Mums4Liberty, Gays Against Groomers, the DougCO and CO GOP. She attended an ALEC new legislator orientation in DC within a few weeks of her election before she was sworn in. To top it off, she uses religion like a crutch…er, two crutches.   

  3. As I stated in my post announcing that I will run to replace Rep. Bradley:



    Polarization and extremism are alive and all too well in Colorado and in our own Douglas County. I have dedicated myself in this campaign and as the next representative of House District 39 to bringing people together to meet these challenges. 

    The incumbent, Rep. Brandi Bradley, appears not to share these values.

    This past Sunday, Rep. Bradley put up an outrageous comment on the social media platform X, formerly known as Twitter. The previous week, a committee assigned to consider a bill that she had introduced voted to postpone such consideration indefinitely. Here, referring to the members of the committee who voted against her bill, is how Rep. Bradley concluded her post:


    “If you are receiving death threats for the way YOU voted, that has nothing to do with me…”


    As it happens, were I a member of the House State, Civic, Military, & Veterans Affairs Committee, I would have voted against the motion to sidetrack Bradley’s bill, which would have imposed mandatory minimum sentencing on individuals who pay to sexually exploit children. I understand perfectly well why the vote to prevent further consideration triggered strong feelings.

    However, there is a fundamental difference between strong feelings and death threats. 

    A legislature is an essential place for the peaceful resolution of differences, however strong. It can never be acceptable for anyone – much less a legislator! – to condone the threat of violence or death.

    I am running to build a community and a state where all can thrive and where we resolve our differences earnestly, honestly, and peacefully. Please help me achieve this!


    Please support my campaign!



      1. Thank you, kwtree!


        I must clarify, though.


        I am a founder and the Blue co-chair of the Colorado Southern Front Range Alliance, which is our local chapter of Braver Angels.


        And I am affiliated with the blue political party.


        Can I reach unaffiliated voters although not unaffiliated myself? Yes, I am confident that I can!


        Decent and sensible people come in all flavors, of all political leanings and none at all. I will seek them out and appeal to them.

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