Montana Tea Party President Removed for Facebook Remarks Condoning Violence Against Gay People
Last week I posted a screenshot of a Faceboook conversation in which Tim Ravndal, the President of Montana's Big Sky Tea Party condoned violence against gay people. The remarks came in a post in which Ravndal expressed his views that marriage should be between a man and a woman. The post was in response to an ACLU lawsuit in Montana brought by seven gay couples who want to get married.
Then Ravndal expressed support for a commenter who (in apparent reference to the Matthew Shepard murder) said, "I think fruits are decorative. Hang up where they can be seen and appreciated. Call Wyoming for display instructions."
Answered Ravndal: "Where can I get that Wyoming printed instruction manual?"
Helena's Independent Record reports that Ravndal has been removed from his position and the party:
"Jim Walker, chairman of the Big Sky Tea Party Association board and an early founder of the anti-big- government group locally, said in a release that as soon as the board learned of Ravndal’s inflammatory comment, they called an emergency meeting to address the situation."
Said Walker: “We are extremely disappointed by Mr. Ravndal’s commentary. The discussion in that Facebook conversation is entirely outside the position of the Big Sky Tea Party. Even though Mr. Ravndal was having a personal conversation and made no reference to our group, we felt strongly that swift and decisive action was required as we cannot accept that sort of behavior from within our membership, let alone from an officer of the corporation. “We continually make it known that we will not tolerate bigoted dialog, behavior or messages at our functions, our meetings or within our ranks. If a person demonstrates bigotry relative to race, sex, ethnicity, etc. they are not welcome in our organization. The Tea Party movement is about standing up for individual freedom for everyone.”
Continued Walker: “I do believe Mr. Ravndal when he explained that he was in no way intending to promote violence and that he was not thinking about nor condoning the murder of an innocent victim in Wyoming in 1998 when he responded to some very disturbing comments made by another individual. However, no matter how we considered the commentary, it was clear to us that he was participating in conversation which was overtly bigoted and we cannot have an officer of our corporation engaging in such behavior.”