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June 06, 2024 10:50 AM UTC

Colorado GOP's Call To Do Hate Crimes Meets Muffled Condemnation At Best

  • 6 Comments
  • by: Colorado Pols

On Monday, the Colorado Republican Party sent out a blast mail to mark the beginning of Pride Month with an over-the-top serving of unvarnished anti-LGBTQ+ vitriol closely resembling the message of the infamous Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kansas, whose protests at the funerals of soldiers killed in action during the Iraq and Afghanistan wars became an enduring symbol of hatred that even most social conservatives wanted nothing to do with. The email blast, titled “God Hates Pride,” condemned “godless groomers” and the “demonic lie” of “progressivism.” And in addition to GOP chairman Dave “Let’s Go Brandon” Williams’ opinion that “God Hates Pride,” apparently the Good Lord also hates…again, pardon us:

The next day, the state party responded to the initial round of criticism with a message even more concise: a call to burn the flags that God allegedly hates.

It’s one thing to declare in the abstract that “God Hates Flags.” But when that declarative statement becomes a call to action against those flags, as Attorney General Phil Weiser explains via Ernest Luning at the Colorado Springs Gazette’s political blog, we get closer to incitement of what could meet the standard for a hate crime:

State residents might want to think twice before taking that instruction literally, Weiser, a Democrat and Colorado’s top law enforcement officer, told Colorado Politics.

“Colorado is at our best when we honor our nation’s credo of e pluribus unum, out of many, we are one,” Weiser said in an emailed statement. “Any attack on a member of the LGBTQ community is disgusting. If such actions, including burning Pride flags, take the form of vandalizing property, harassing individuals, or causing physical harm to others, they can even be a crime.” [Pols emphasis]

Calling to burn all Pride flags by definition means burning Pride flags that do not belong to you. You’re free to order your own Pride flags from Amazon and (air quality regulations permitting) burn them, that’s not a debate we’re interested in pursuing–but if you try to burn a Pride flag owned by somebody else, that’s a crime.

And that does appear to be what the Colorado Republican Party’s official account called for on Tuesday afternoon.

After the Colorado GOP called on parents across the state to pull their children out of public schools, we thought the party had finally descended to a level of unseriousness from which there was no reputational escape. By encouraging their members to commit hate crimes, the Colorado Republican Party has managed to confound even our cynical imagination of how low they could descend. Digging the hole even deeper, Williams responded:

“The tweet was meant to be a written or verbal act of defiance, but we wouldn’t let the AG’s unconstitutional opinion deter our Free Speech right to do it if we wanted to.” [Pols emphasis]

The problem of course is that Williams called to burn all Pride flags. The party’s Tweet said nothing about “verbally” burning them either. The Colorado Republican Party told their followers to “burn all the Pride flags this June.” And even though this was all supposedly metaphorical, Williams says he would have the right if he wanted to. This has the effect of undermining Williams’ protestations that he didn’t want people to actually burn actual Pride flags.

Williams appears to be inviting the escalating drama on wedge issue sideshows as the June 25th primary nears, since it distracts from the ongoing draining of party funds to send out mailers supporting Williams in the CO-05 race and attacking Williams’ opponent–the latest of which arrived in district mailboxes yesterday. So far, despite all the blowback Williams has received over his unprecedented abuse of the party chairmanship, criticism of Williams from within the party over this latest attack on LGBTQ+ people has been mostly limited to the chairman of the Log Cabin Republicans Valdamar Archuleta and Douglas County Commissioner Abe Laydon–who are both “out” members of the LGBTQ+ community. Where is Gabe Evans? Where is Jeff Hurd?

The muted reaction from fellow Republicans to us is another sign of how far Colorado Republicans have backslid on the issue of LGBTQ+ rights in recent years, and how Republicans seeking to moderate the party’s image on this issue as public opinion has shifted have failed. If Republicans can’t unequivocally condemn Williams’ appeals to the lowest common denominator of society, we must assume it’s because they fear the segment of their base who agree.

And that spreads the guilt to every one of them.

Comments

6 thoughts on “Colorado GOP’s Call To Do Hate Crimes Meets Muffled Condemnation At Best

  1. This is correct. If you burn somebody else's Pride flag, it's a hate crime under Colorado law.

    https://law.justia.com/codes/colorado/2022/title-18/article-9/part-1/section-18-9-121/

    1. A person commits a bias-motivated crime if, with the intent to intimidate or harass another person, in whole or in part, because of that person's actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, physical or mental disability, or sexual orientation, he or she:
      1. Knowingly causes bodily injury to another person; or
      2. By words or conduct, knowingly places another person in fear of imminent lawless action directed at that person or that person's property and such words or conduct are likely to produce bodily injury to that person or damage to that person's property; or
      3. Knowingly causes damage to or destruction of the property of another person.
  2. Mr. Williams comment in response to Attorney General Weiser is reprehensible. Williams is asserting that under the guise of "Free Speech," he can burn anything he wants to that goes against his personal beliefs and values. Williams is supporting terror and terrorist tactics to impose his beliefs on others and, just as bad, he intentionally misinterprets the Constitution to justify his position and actions. He is attempting to make lawlessnes the "rule of law."

    1. Assuming he complies with fire restrictions, Williams can burn all of his own flags to his heart's content.  But burning someone else's isn't protected by the First Amendment, regardless of the motivation.  

       

  3. Gawdess, this stew has been brewing a long time. Musgrave, Brophy (remember when he wanted to impeach a judge over a finding in a lesbian divorce case?) Chaps, Fisting Grannie, Waters/Woods and a clown car full of others.  Chef Williams now gets to fatten the glutinous, hungry mob with their entree of the month. 

  4. Condemn it?  Pfft.  They support it! 

    Hell, even Arculeta couched his "condemnation" with praises of Williams ("I know Dave Williams, and he is certainly not a homophobe.  He's always been respectful of me in our conversations.")

    Colorado has a loooong history of anti-LGBT bigotry (we will always be the original "Hate State" thanks to Prop 2).  We've come a long way, no doubt (Governor Polis, Rep. Titone), but let's not kid ourselves, rhetorically beating up on LGBT folks is still relatively safe for Colorado politicians, and downright rewarding for Republicans in certain corners of this state. 

  5. If anyone (or their property) actually comes to harm because of these stupid, hateful, wreckless statements of Williams’, I hope Weiser charges, not only the arsonist, but Williams, too, as an accessory to a hate crime.

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