The "respectables" put the Nazi boys in Lakeland. Now they want us to ignore them.
Relentless public lies and attention, fully sanctioned by the "respectable" leaders of the GOP, gave the out-of-town Nazi boys their LGBT targets. Now all these Pilates want to wash their hands.
As long as there've been stories, lies and airwaves
What makes a man a man's been right up front
In visions boys are sold of what it could be
Grievance when it ain't like what they thought …
Say his trouble with the ladies can't be his fault
After all he's what it's natural they should want
There's just outside voices turning them against him
A conspiracy to water down his blood
A conspiracy to water down his blood
And it's all the fault of it, or them, or they
Give a boy a target for his grievance
And he might get it in his head they need to pay
— Mike Cooley, Drive-by Truckers, from the song “Grievance Merchants”
Try to imagine Rep. Scott Franklin, R-Lakeland saying what he said about the Nazi boys recently defiling Lakeland — but about the free creative expression of the drag performers the Nazi boys hit:
“Our Constitutionally protected right to free speech doesn’t shield people from parading their stupidity. But as Rush Limbaugh said, ‘The First Amendment doesn’t give anybody the right to be heard. People don’t have to listen to you.’ The more oxygen we give to [drag shows, LGBT people, etc.], the more we fan their flames.”
That would be pretty gross and retrograde as a personal belief system in my view.
But if you want to hold those views in a right wing party within a pluralistic country not at war with itself, that’s how to do it.
Somebody ought to put that statement — or something like this — into the GOP platform about LGBT folks so we can all go on about our lives in peace:
I, hypothetical GOPer, find gay people and trans people and drag performers icky, but as long as they don’t hurt anybody or commit crimes, we should just ignore them and let them lead their sinful lives with their fake marriages and families. After all, our loving Jesus will punish them for eternity; so we don’t need to do it here. And if we give them too much earthly attention, they might turn our kids gay or our boys and girls into girls and boys and whatever-the-hell gender fluid is since we have such little influence over our own children as parents.
This hypothetical GOP person signing onto that hypothetical GOP platform would not be fun to hang out with. I would not like them. But we could share a country and society from a respectful distance.
LGBT people can’t ignore who the grievance merchants send to them. So I can’t either.
Instead, the dominant public position of grievance merchant GOP politicians like Ron DeSantis and and Grady Judd and Scott Franklin is much, much worse (rendered here in my words):
LGBT people are a vaguely sinister, undifferentiated force, who should be relentlessly scrutinized and dominated and forced into divorce by government, using lies and false collective language of sex crime to justify it. Cultural expressions of LGBT pride and celebration — like PRIDE and drag shows and books that have positive representations — should be banned or disrupted by GOP-affiliated, vaguely-deniable mobs, Nazis, open carriers, and threats/acts of violence.
If you disagree with me, GOPer, that this is your party’s position, then articulate the actual position in writing. I dare you. I’ll publish it. Not one of you will do it. Prove me wrong.
Today’s GOPers talk about LGBT and trans people the way they should talk about Nazi boys — either 1) for no reason but raw petty political advantage or 2) because of a deeply felt disgust they pretend not to hold when speaking in polite company.
I can’t share civic space with that — because that has no interest in sharing space with my conception of decency in America as a straight white man and Lakeland citizen.
That puts Nazi boys in the core of Lakeland. That — among other things — puts my literal neighbor in the Capitol Lynch Mob on Jan. 6. That murders people in Colorado clubs. That can only be fought until I can’t fight it anymore.
Grady Judd, Scott Franklin, Scott Franklin, James Ring, Alice Hunt, Colleen Burton, Jennifer Canady, Laurel Lee, Melony Bell, etc. etc. — the silently “respectable” Polk GOP “leaders”— are damn sure as on the hook for that as Ed Shoemaker and J.C. Martin and the CCDF. Moreso, perhaps.
Lakeland mayor Bill Mutz is in a very different category from those “respectables” in my view. And after a very Mutz-like period of deliberation, he gave what I consider a good and important statement on Wednesday. It began to fill the disapproval vacuum that was encouraging more bad behavior by further isolating and ignoring the Nazi boys’ victims. I hope Mutz speaks for the entire City Commission with this:
There is no room for bigotry in a community that seeks to honor everyone; this is Lakeland’s consistent people-centered standard. Once LPD confronted last Saturday’s participants, they complied with requests and ultimately disbursed peacefully.
There is no justification for any group to value its lives over the lives of others. Instead, this is a self-righteous declaration denying the inalienable equal rights the Constitution provides.
That’s not as morally blunt as Polk School Board Member Lisa Miller’s statement.
And it’s not as aggressive and specific as I would be; but it’s very true to Bill’s formal and conciliatory public nature. And it does say, more generically, what I’ve been saying — especially the last sentence.
Moreover, Bill has earned my respect and benefit of the doubt in his work with the Confederate monument, body cameras, and refusing to knuckle under to Lakeland Christian School over PRIDE.
If the “respectables” would emulate him, we’d all be better off.
The “respectables” aren’t
They were too weak and afraid to do it themselves; but the “respectables” very much wanted the good, non-GOP people of Lakeland and Polk County to kill off the so-called County Citizens Defending Freedom and Ed Shoemaker and J.C. Martin and Saga Stevin as a short-term sociopolitical force in Polk County.
That’s because the “respectables” didn’t want Ed Shoemaker and J.C. Martin and Saga Stevin taking their power to rule the moral and civic ashes of the Polk GOP, which exists only as a petty imperial court serving Florida’s tiny dictator. (The Polk and Florida GOP is no longer a thing with a will of its own and hasn’t been for some time. It’s just a receptacle for dictator scraps and racket protection.)
Thus, the good, non-GOP people of this county have been quiet allies of convenience with the GOP “respectables” in the fight against our shared enemy — the outwardly gross and unrespectable CCDF. Trust me; I know this firsthand.
And we, the good non-GOP people of Polk, including LGBT people, did exactly what the “respectables” hoped. We smashed the Sagasphere and the CCDF politically and morally. (Only the self-declared criminal Rick Nolte remains, for now, and we’re tearing pieces out of him every day.)
The “respectables” delivered few of the votes and almost none of the effort — with the exception of Wesley Barnett, who is the only “respectable” public GOP leader I know who has truly behaved respectably, publicly, in the last year, and put some some real effort into it.
Some of the “respectables” implied, at times, that Polk’s Saga and CCDF-purged GOP would become more community-minded and open and decent and independent of the tiny dictator in Tallahassee. I always doubted them because I know them all to varying degrees — except for Canady and Lee, who are both living up to my very very very very very very very very very very very low expectations.
Nevertheless, we good non-GOP people gave the “respectables” quiet space to act and reform in the aftermath of the elections in which we destroyed their gross, intra-party enemies for them.
Ya’ll can go fully unite with Shoemaker and J.C. and whomever now, “respectables.”
And I have to tell you: I’d rather deal with J.C. and Shoemaker and Saga — at least they’re open about it and have the excuse of being bonkers.
They’re not selling out their communities and neighbors for nothing. Ed and J.C. and Saga seem to genuinely hate their neighbors and run on it. That’s more honorable than doing it on the down-low and shit-talking the crazies and Nazi boys in private as if you’re not with them. So I hope J.C. and Shoemaker and Saga purge you.
No more fictions. Let’s be open with each other.
If you can’t unite against Nazi boys terrorizing your constituents, we have nothing to even discuss. I’ll see you in the public sphere. Bring it.
What’s that about groomers, respectables?
With that in mind, it is impossible to overstate how full of shit all of these DeSantis and GOP-driven LGBT and drag tropes and slurs are. They are most often rendered by the most sexually abusive, closeted, gross, and/or criminal people on the planet.
I am not remotely surprised that Rep. Joe Harding, R-Grifter, sponsor of the DeSantis “Don’t Say Gay” bill, is a petty criminal who committed emergency COVID relief fraud — allegedly. Hate is always a grift first.
Here are two more examples, just from the circles of the “respectables” in Polk County:
The wingman’s “wingman”: Scott Franklin and two degrees of Joel Greenberg
I promise you there has never a drag show that could even approach the lewdness of an alleged Matt Gaetz/Joel Greenberg underage sex party.
Greenberg, the arch-criminal former Tax Collector of Seminole County and big Gaetz bro, was recently sentenced on a variety of crimes. Key underage sex party excerpt below:
As part of his plea deal, Greenberg provided information to investigators about Gaetz related to the sex-trafficking probe, a source familiar with the case previously told CNN. Women who attended parties with Greenberg and Gaetz previously told CNN that they participated in sex parties near Orlando that featured local political figures, young women, Venmo payments, alcohol, and drugs.
CNN reported in September that prosecutors recommended against an indictment, though senior Justice Department officials get to make the final call – and it’s unclear if that decision has been made.
That’s why this, from 2020, was the most morally revolting and embarrassing thing anyone has ever done publicly in a Polk County campaign (at least until we got to know Rick Nolte and James Dunn in 2022).
“A big thanks to Matt Gaetz for being my wingman.”
YUCK! I’d rather crawl through a Shawshank Redemption pipe full of raw sewage than say that — ever.
But congrats anyway, Scott, on your “wingman” apparently beating the underage sex trafficking rap that his “wingman” claims to have been witnessed. I’m sure you’ve sent Gaetz a congratulatory fruit basket.
Why haven’t the respectables pointed the Nazi boys at Rick “T.I.T.S.” Nolte?
The image below is a Facebook post from a sitting, Ron DeSantis-endorsed Polk County school board member, who also claims to be campaign felon. Seriously, he does.
The Nazi boys could have sieg-hieled at Rick Nolte and projected sex crime language onto his house because of his publicly-expressed fetish for T.I.T.S. that “needed to be more developed.” (To be clear, I don’t wish that on anyone, even Nolte.)
Why didn’t they?
Because Ron DeSantis, Grady Judd, Scott Franklin, State Attorney Brian Haas and the rest of the GOP “respectables” haven’t said a fucking word in public about Rick Nolte. (And the Nazi boys wouldn’t go anyway, because, shhhhh, they don’t really care about “grooming.”)
DeSantis, Judd, Franklin, and Haas haven’t pounded Nolte’s self-declared crime and developing “T.I.T.S” manifesto with relentless, malicious attention. That’s how much they really care about “groomers” — in actual positions of power.
DeSantis literally endorsed Nolte, openly — and won’t remove him. The rest pretend he doesn’t exist. They’re all perfectly content for T.I.T.S. Nolte to spend time with and have power over your children.
Those guys reserve the “groomer” treatment for innocent teachers and the books written and read by people who aren’t groomers, but who make good targets for the grievances of people who love “God, guns, and Grady.”
As Scott Franklin says: “The more oxygen we give to haters, the more we fan their flames.”
That certainly hasn’t been a problem for “T.I.T.S.” Nolte.
I’m sure T.I.T.S. is thankful to Scott Franklin and Grady Judd and Brian Haas for their magnanimous forbearance.
“T.I.T.S.” ran hard on gay hatred, by the way, constantly insulting Sarah Fortney for who she is — Florida’s first openly gay school board member — while cheating and criming on his campaign the entire time to barely win, according to his own records.
But you know what else Sarah Fortney is? Not a criminal and not a Nazi boy.
Leave us alone, “respectables.” Get. Out. Of. Our. Lives.
Here I am in drag. Consider it a small statement of solidarity. (It’s a long, funny story, related to education policy and teacher shortages. Really, it is.)
I can’t dance; so I doubt our local drag performers would allow me to join a revue. I’d probably feel awkward and self-conscious if I did.
But apart from having no talent, I’m not sure anything prevents me from taking part in a drag show. I don’t know if there are league rules somewhere limiting drag shows to gay or trans men; but I haven’t seen them.
So why are the Nazi boys and the “respectables” are so convinced they’re hitting LGBT people by hitting drag shows or story times? Because Ron DeSantis and Grady Judd and Scott Franklin and the GOP “respectables” tell them they are — over and over and over and over again. And they encourage them to own AR-15s.
Drag performers and LGBT people and people of color and pregnant women are on the front lines of the battle for American decency and peaceful self-rule in the 21st Century; but many other people make prime lying grievance targets for Nazi boys. Really, all people do. You too, “respectables.”
That’s a lesson about Nazis and Klansmen. They don’t stop with the targets grievance merchants first offer up to them. They tend to go full Frankenstein. The libs and the ferocious drag queens won’t always be there to save you from your MAGA boys.
So at the risk of insulting the drag performers, I want to include them in a very big “we” as I address the “respectables” one last time.
Nobody wants to live in your dark fantasy, fake Christian, Nazi-adjacent, book-banning, grossly oversexed, forced birth, criminal dictatorship — you least of all (except maybe the oversexed part).
We damn sure know you never intend to live with the restrictions and consequences of your own hangups and rules and criminality. Gaetz and Greenberg and Harding and Herschel Walker and the CCDF criminals and so many others make that endlessly clear.
Leave. us. alone.
Manage your own lives. Live with your own failures and successes. Attend your own churches. Indulge your own stupid hatreds if you must. But…
Leave. us. alone.
It’s simple: if you stop pointing your fingers at your favorite targets, the Nazi boys will stop showing up — if you actually want that.
Then we can all ignore them together.