I love Idaho. It’s a beautiful state and most of the people I’ve encountered in it have been really lovely people. But it doesn’t take a lot of fecal matter to completely wreck a chocolate cake, and recently an Idaho State Senator–a Republican, naturally–has shown himself to be just that kind of cake-wrecker. Here’s what Christian love really looks like–and why stone-cold hypocrite Dan Foreman is reacting like he is to what ought to be a perfectly civil and normal engagement between an elected representative and his constituents.
Everyone, Meet Dan Foreman (Our Hypocrite du Jour).
Dan Foreman is a Republican in the Idaho State Senate. He’s from a little town way up north along the skinny end of the state called Moscow, which I know primarily because it’s got a thriving group of SCAdians there and apparently lots of pizza options, as well as a Renfest that I’ve heard is really good.
It’s a college town, basically, which makes Dan Foreman all the more confusing as an elected official representing the area. I don’t hold his age against him (he’s ancient), but I can and do hold against him that he is crotchety and prone to rage-filled outbursts–and even worse, he is a religious fanatic who has mistaken his own theocratic impulses and culture-warrior tendencies for legitimate governance. He is on record as saying he doesn’t believe in the separation of church and state, which is unfortunate given that our Supreme Court has repeatedly affirmed that it is a thing, and that’s hardly even close to the worst and most willfully ignorant thing he’s ever said publicly.
He’s also a newbie senator–he narrowly squeaked through to the win in 2016 for his first term, defeating a Democratic incumbent. I wish I could be surprised that he’s had careers in both the military and law enforcement fields–especially since this guy obviously thinks he’s the next Joe Arpaio, with all the repugnant stink that entails.
I’m just wondering if the folks in Moscow realize yet that they’ve elected someone who literally needs to take grade school Civics over again–along with Donald Trump, for that matter, since most of the immigrants’ kids they hate so much would do better on the test than these two numnuts ever could.
If Idahoans didn’t know about Foreman’s utter lack of suitability for his new role before this week, they sure do now–at least, if they’re not completely encased in the city-shields of antiprocess.
But this is not Foreman’s first visit to the rodeo of outrageous abuse shown toward his constituents.
A Circus of a State.
See, Idaho is routinely ranked near the tippy-top of lists of dysfunctional states. As lovely as so much of this state is and can be, DANG it is dysfunctional. It’s got lower-than-average crime rates and a strikingly low number of infants born out of wedlock, but otherwise, it’s got higher-than-average divorces, way more people lacking health insurance,1 probably resulting in the state’s super-low ranking in access to healthcare and healthcare quality, and an atrocious number of suicides compared to the national average (Idaho is 6th in the nation there, in a ranking nobody wants to win). The state’s also at the bottom of the list in both educational quality/access and its rate of drug-induced deaths (not to mention its ranking in the nation’s opiate crisis). Oh, and Idaho’s 47th in the nation when it comes to incomes, with per-capita earnings almost UD$20k/year below the national average. Hell, you wouldn’t even believe it if I told you exactly how much wingnut religious parents can get away with in terms of child abuse and neglect here–we’ll have to talk about that one next time.
Remember that nice low crime rate? Somehow it results in Idaho having “the second-fastest growing prison population in the country,” the sheer size of which–and the sheer scope of nonviolent crimes it involves–being so enormous that “it absolutely stunned” one Republican lawmaker who heard about it.
And that stunnination is pretty ironic, considering that
a lot almost all of Idaho’s dysfunctionality can be laid right at the feet of the good ol’ Republican derpyderp man-children who run the state and make its laws.
Folks marvel about how the Republican Party is just a big ole circus these days, and you will absolutely not find a more illustrative example of that idea than the last Idaho GOP gubernatorial debate of 2014. The sheer amount of chest-beating, grandstanding, and culture-war pandering on display was sickening–which means that as piss-poor a governor as Butch “Hyuck Hyuck Derp!” Otter was and indeed is, he beat both of his opponents that night for the party’s nomination: a biker in full iconic kit who openly compared himself and his pals to Playboy Bunnies2 — and a Bible-thumper who really, really wanted Idahoans to know how much he hated women’s rights.3
(Just imagine how Otter would have fared against a proper opponent who wasn’t completely wackadoodle? Maybe one day the Idaho GOP will find out–oh, who are we kidding?)
So one could almost not blame Dan Foreman for thinking that what voting Idahoans wanted was yet another theocracy-minded extremist Christian to explode onto the political stage and use the state for his own private pulled-from-his-rectum guesses about what’d fix everything. That does, after all, appear to be exactly what voting Idahoans want.
That’s why, immediately after taking office, he initiated proposals to charge women seeking abortions with first-degree murder. And he uses his extremist religious wackadoodlery as his impetus for doing this stuff, every time. Otherwise, though, he’s been an almost completely ineffective and lackluster senator in his first year in office, so his antics are really just postmodernist performance art in a way.
A Standard-Issue Civic Engagement.
One of the things that voters do all over the United States is get together in like-minded groups to go talk to their state (and national) legislators. I participated in one myself when my state college’s funding was being very seriously threatened.
I learned on that field trip that legislators at the time considered a phone call to be worth the opinions of perhaps 10 other constituents; a letter was worth perhaps 50 other constituents’ opinions; and a personal visit was worth 100 or more depending on the topic the visitor wanted to talk about. So organizing groups to go on these trips is obviously of paramount importance. Today, those ratios might be a little different-looking (and would have to take email into account, which barely even existed outside of college systems at that time), but constituent visits are still an important way for voters to engage with the political process.
Oh, sure, I could absolutely tell that these legislators weren’t happy at all to meet with my group. We were demanding that they forego a funding change they’d had their hearts set on. It’s always easy to peel back funding from education, after all; students don’t reliably make it out to voting booths, they’re easy to disenfranchise, they tend to move around a lot, and they don’t tend to have a lot of money–all of which makes them easy to ignore in capitol buildings all over the country. By showing up in their offices, we showed our state legislature that we were actively engaged in the political process–and thus we became politically dangerous to ignore.
My visiting group got what we wanted–that time. We got lucky; I turned out to be a very good public speaker and I memorize facts and figures very quickly, so the news teams out there to cover the goings-on that day directed their cameras at me to let me wax eloquent about why this was an important cause and what exactly was at stake. For weeks after that visit, I got approached by total strangers at school (and by my very favorite psychology professor! I was so giddy) and thanked for my appearance on television that night. None of that was anything anybody expected, least of all the mousy little cultist on the school bus on the way to Austin that fine morning.
So you can imagine that I was downright shocked by what happend in Idaho yesterday.
MFW a Legislator Forgets Who Is Paying His Salary.
Dan Foreman, the newbie state senator from Moscow, was visited yesterday by a group of college students from his home district. They’d traveled 300 miles to see the state legislators in Boise to talk about adding a 12-month mandate for contraception to healthcare plans in the state. This proposed mandate would mean that all Idaho women would receive up to 12 months’ worth of contraception at once, which would increase their reliable access to contraception–particularly for poor women, who might lack the resources to make year-round doctor visits and get monthly pharmacy refills (remember, Idaho’s got a lot, as in a lot a lot, of poor women in it, thanks to Republicans who routinely obstruct healthcare access and keep the state’s minimum wage as low as they dare).
They arrived for their prearranged appointment with Foreman while wearing Planned Parenthood t-shirts. That fashion decision may well have been the triggering event for this rage-filled senator’s reaction.
Foreman literally lost his top at the students.
I mean he literally screamed at them and threatened to sic the cops on them for disturbing him with their crazy talk of lady parts and lady needs.
See, he decided that these students were really talking about abortion. And that meant he had the right to abuse them, in his weird constricted little mind.
He is a super-uber-way-crazy-lots Catholic hardliner, so he views contraception as being exactly the same as abortion–despite repeated attempts by medical professionals to educate ignorant tight-asses like himself about the completely non-abortifacient nature of all contraception.
Of course, it doesn’t matter how often anyone tries to tell people like Dan Foreman the truth. Once a bad idea enters the canon of a broken system, it can’t leave, no matter what information pops up to discredit it. Being wrong is worse than, well, anything, literally.
The video one of the students took of the group’s encounter is downright hair-raising. In it, Dan Foreman stands there like a puffed up Substitute Daddy and screams at the students, all but spitting his contempt and rage at them. He judges and condemns them repeatedly, then turns on his heel to flounce into the safety of his office. When one student off-camera tells him that it’s his choice to oppose abortion rights, he turns around as if delighted at the provocation, then screams at them, “You damn right it’s my choice, so stay out of my office.” A student tries to talk further, but he turns once more to point a jabbing finger at them and inform them, “Next time you walk into my office, you’ll be dealing with Idaho State Police.” Then he flounces off.
This Wasn’t His First Trip to That Rodeo.
This wasn’t actually the very first time Dan Foreman has demonstrated his tendency toward verbal violence. Not by half.
Last September, he hit local news in his neck of the woods for initiating a screaming confrontation with a critic who, Foreman felt, was “lecturing him on the Constitution” and being less than totally obsequious to the senator. That justified, in Foreman’s mind at least, his screaming insults and curses at this critic. Among other things, he called his unseen critic a “liberal nuttard” and ends by shouting at the man, “Go straight to hell, you son of a bitch.”
A deputy whose bodycam video captured the incident eventually told them both to “move along.” Afterward, Foreman clutched his pearls and declared that why, saints a-LAHVE, he wasn’t going back to the county fair till the management abased themselves before him to his complete satisfaction. He declared, further, that he stood by his abuse of that man, and that he only wanted to talk to constituents if they were properly obsequious to him. He calls this quality being “civil,” but that is very clearly what he means by the term because at all times, the people he’s screaming at are being civil to him; their only sin is pushing back against him. He’s 100% a product of toxic masculinity’s honor culture.
After his encounter at the county fair, he insisted that the man he’d verbally abused was one of the area’s “loony left-wing people” who “think if they disagree with you they have the right to yell.” But the local news site quietly noted (almost in passing) that the deputy’s bodycam only showed Foreman yelling.
Tellingly, the fair managers have flat refused to apologize to him for anything.
There’s other stuff too that indicates this guy’s complete incompetence for his role. We’re just concentrating on his habit of screaming at people here. Seriously, watch out for falling into the walkabout that is Dan Foreman’s incompetence. You might never escape it. Even by swivel-eyed Christianist standards, he is a complete embarrassment to the tribe, and perversely fascinating in his complete hypocrisy and in his utter betrayal of every so-called Christian virtue there exists.
Cowardice: That Most Important Republican Value.
At first, after this latest outburst, Foreman fled to his Twitter account to release some passive-aggressive tweets about hating Planned Parenthood, and snidely advising the visiting students to “go talk about killing babies with Maryanne Jordan,” who is a Democratic legislator from Boise. He gave sound bites to places like Washington Post about totally standing by his words here too–just as he has after similar outbursts elsewhere. (Once toxic Christians figure out a way to rationalize a given hypocritical behavior, they go all in on that certainty!)
But cracks were appearing in the facade.
The Senate President Pro Tem Brent Hill (a fellow Republican and–as far as I can tell–a die-hard Mormon) said he had told Foreman that “the behavior was inappropriate.” The Democratic colleague he accused of “killing babies” has gone one step further and filed an honest-to-goodness ethics complaint against him. Further, a petition is going up to try to force Foreman to be civil to his constituents, do his goddamned job, and meet with the people who are paying his sinecure with their taxes.
Obviously, the moment he realized that his habitual outbursts weren’t being ignored this time, Foreman immediately stepped up to the plate and displayed the heroism and courage we’d expect out of….
Oh, who are we kidding?
He deleted his Twitter account.
Then he reactivated it briefly, just to tweet that it totally wasn’t the real Dan Foreman’s real account, and then the account was deleted again.
And he’s gone radio silent since those early belligerent posturings.
Those are definitely the actions of a belligerent-but-totally-right TRUE CHRISTIAN™ crusader who stands by his words. Yup.
Ah, Christian LOVE!
Every single time a Christian burbles at me about what possible harm it could do to have religious faith, I think about Christians exactly like Dan Foreman: Christians who’d rend and tear their opponents and all dissenters if they only could; Christians who show us their sheer blinding contempt and hatred and rage and fury every time a single bit of their dominance is threatened in any way.
He doesn’t react like he is inhabited by a transcendent being of goodness, compassion, mercy, and love. He reacts, over and over again, like exactly like what we’d expect out of an enraged patriarchal theocratic tin-god whose authority has been questioned by people he distinctly views as his inferiors. He only has one reaction mode to pushback, and that is full-on nuclear confrontation. I tremble to imagine what his private life is like if he is this unprofessional as a legislator.
And I guarantee you this: non-Christians look at Christians like him and make up their minds, then and there, to reject any religion that accepts people like him.
As I wrote in “The Ballad of the Bad Christians,” good Christians can’t effectively rein in people like Dan Foreman or protect others from those hypocrites. That’s the real danger of allowing “bad Christians” to remain in the group. That’s why “bad Christians” are so disastrous to Christianity’s bottom line. It’s not that they miff and offend people into mistakenly rejecting a true ideology, it’s that they are literally the evidence that shows us that Christianity’s claims cannot possibly be true and so therefore must be rejected–just as we’d reject anything that has been shown through evidence to be untrue.
The broken system that is Christianity prevents Christians even from identifying such people, and it won’t ever let them stop them. Hell, Foreman’s fanbase in conservative-Christian Republican circles adores him. They are nowhere near ready to engage with what he’s doing to their future.
No, the task of stopping Foreman is left up to impartial secular authorities who are not as constrained by Christians’ broken system. And that’s what’s beginning to happen now. Hopefully it’ll result in this abuser being put in his place–on the dungheap of history. The general public–and perhaps even Foreman’s fellow legislators–may finally accomplish what Foreman’s toxic-Christian tribe never could.
Certainly the viral outrage over his behavior has hit national consciousness; there are now millions of people who know about him, and hopefully some of them are resolving in their minds to get their shiny heinies to a voting booth this fall.
Man alive! I wish Christians would quit giving us messy object lessons about what their “Christian love” really is. We already know. They can stop now. Any time.
(It’s not particularly convenient to register in Republican-controlled states–and I don’t wonder why–but extraordinary situations require extraordinary measures, and I genuinely hope that people everywhere will take that trouble to stop more Dan Foremans from wreaking havoc in their states. The stakes are getting dizzyingly high. Before Trumpism, a recorded outburst like this one would have absolutely doomed a politician. Now it might become a ticket to a Foreman Presidency. I’ll let Clint take it away from here.)
Yes. Now, would all of the people who are leaving evangelical Christianity kindly make your voice heard at the fucking ballot box, please. Register to vote in your town RIGHT NOW, before the 2018 midterm elections come any closer. Don’t whine to me about how hard it is to vote, or how you don’t have time to take off from your job to vote. Get a fucking absentee ballot if you live somewhere you think you’ll be racially profiled or otherwise discriminated against for showing up at the polls. Get a fucking absentee ballot if you have an asshole boss who won’t let you take the time off to vote, or if your childcare situation doesn’t allow you to get to the polls. Get a fucking absentee ballot if you know that they’ve been closing polling places in your area, causing long lines on voting day. If anyone gives you trouble when you try to get an absentee ballot, call the fucking ACLU as soon as fucking possible. Call them early, call them often. No more fucking excuses. NO MORE FUCKING EXCUSES. NO. MORE. FUCKING. EXCUSES.VOTE FOR PEOPLE WHO AREN’T FUNDAGELICAL WHACKJOBS, ALL OF WHOM ARE ALMOST EXCLUSIVELY REPUBLICANS. THIS ENTIRE COUNTRY WILL SUFFER UNTIL THESE ASSHOLES DON’T HAVE ANY POLITICAL POWER ANYMORE. CAN YOU NOT SEE THIS, NOW?
I can guarantee you that almost every Fundagelical is taking the time to break away from watching Fox News just long enough to vote for the Fundagelical whackjob, and that they vote for the Fundagelical whackjob in EVERY local, state, and federal election. If that doesn’t scare you enough to take the time to figure out a way to vote, then the United States is truly lost.
1 When Mr. Captain and I vacationed in way-northern Idaho last year, we saw a truly disheartening number of news stories soliciting donations for locals who’d gotten very sick or hurt and needed serious help paying medical bills. YAY MURRKA!
3 The candidate named Pro-Life ran as an independent, and for all his fervor didn’t even manage to gain 100 total votes. That didn’t stop him; he’s been trying to gain that seat since like 2006 and getting defeated handily every time.
Endnote 1: My doctor today said he feels safe in being “flippant” with his vote, since he’s a way-left liberal in a state that is slam-dunk hardcore conservative Right-Wing Nutjob (RWNJ). I might have gotten a little emotional in response. We cannot afford flippancy. Not anymore, not if we ever could.
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