About that gecko...
I read today that GEICO has fired voice talent Lance Baxter AKA "D.C. Douglas", heard in several GEICO commercials, over some voice messages he left at FreedomWorks. FreedomWorks is a limited government advocacy group linked to the Tea Party. According to this article, Mr. Douglas left some nasty messages where he called Tea Party protesters "mentally retarded" and speculated whether protests would lead to someone getting killed. The article goes on to say that FreedomWorks then put Mr. Douglas's voice mail messages online and asked their supporters to call GEICO to complain resulting in the firing of Mr. Douglas.
This story has troubled me since I read it on Twitter via @teh_Dede. I don't like what Mr. Douglas did and what he had to say. He was wrong to do what he did, even though he says he was motivated by the belief that there were racial and homophobic slurs hurled during the Tea Party protest right before the health care bill vote. But did he deserve to have his messages publicized, his employer contacted (through a campaign) and then fired? I struggle with that answer, I really do. This reeks of scorched earth and tit for tat, and in my gut I feel it's wrong.
I don't have to like what Mr. Douglas has to say or what he believes. I don't want to defend it, and won't. But I do have to live in this country with people who will disagree with me AFTER I hope we see a big correction in our government leadership come November. I'd like to change hearts and minds, not bash over the head.
I've never been to a Tea Party protest, but I've always been proud of my fellow Americans, whom I've felt were representing me. They're great patriots to me and their interests are largely mine. They're out there showing the country that change can be brought through peaceful, thoughtful protest. This is what I want to continue to support and to associate with the Tea Party, or conservatism, for that matter. Getting people fired for relatively mild political statements doesn't fit those ideals for me, personally.
Now I know the Tea Party didn't do this. FreedomWorks and their supporters did. But they're going to be linked to the Tea Party as if the whole movement is behind it. That's the way the media works. Whether we, as supporters of this movement or conservatives in general, nod our heads in approval matters.
I am a proud Tea Party supporter and a political conservative. I am not nodding my head.
ADDED: I tweaked the wording a little. I'm not trying to say this one thing will ruin the Tea Party movement or the conservative message. That would be silly of me. I'm saying that I feel a responsibility to say that I don't agree with this. On either side. And I hope it's a one-off thing and that conservatives and Tea Party advocates with a fair amount of power like FreedomWorks continue to focus on thoughtful protest and dialogue in hopes of persuading on the issues.