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Lost in translation: The Ark. GOP 

click to enlarge Sen. Jason Rapert - BRIAN CHILSON
  • Brian Chilson
  • Sen. Jason Rapert

Republican politicians did some rhetorical dancing in the last week that requires translation.

Sen. Jason Rapert

For the 12th year, Conway Pride organized a Sunday parade and a park gathering to express love and brotherhood for all, particularly lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.

It drove Rapert nuts. He unloaded a 1,000-word Facebook rant decrying the marchers (including many clergy) as "anti-Christian activists" who'd been "enabled" by the City Council to do so on a Sunday, "the Lord's day." Rapert said the parade was meant to "mock" and "intimidate" Christians.

A Twitter account I follow translated Rapert best by quoting George Bernard Shaw: "Hatred is the coward's revenge for being intimidated."

Translation: Jason Rapert believes his view of religion should trump the First Amendment right to speech and assembly. So fearful is he of LGBT people, he wants them driven into darkness. No one mocked his religion nor attempted to prevent him from practicing it. Rapert HAS attempted to intimidate the Conway City Council and the Arkansas Supreme Court to make his mean brand of religion law, including by outlawing Sunday parades. Even a sympathizer on Rapert's Facebook page observed: "A governing entity big and powerful enough to tell homosexuals they cannot assemble on a Sunday is big and powerful enough to tell Christians the same."

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, Lt. Gov. Tim Griffin and Attorney General Leslie Rutledge.

Responding to a campaign organized by advocates for open carry of weapons in Arkansas, the three Republican officeholders declared that a 2013 law aimed at technical corrections to weapons law had, by trick or accident, legalized open carry in Arkansas. This is contrary to former Attorney General Dustin McDaniel's official opinion, something that Rutledge has not yet officially countermanded.

All three acknowledged a lack of clarity on the law, including disagreement by legislators who voted for it in 2013 and also rejected a bill explicitly authorizing open carry. Said Rutledge, for example: "But anytime law enforcement and citizens disagree on a law we need to ensure there is clarity to protect our citizens. I am committed to working with the General Assembly to clarify any confusion surrounding Act 746 and its intent."

Translation: The law isn't clear, but we're too chicken to do anything about it. If we really wanted unlimited open carry, we would have fixed it in the 2015 legislative session. But we're happy to let the gun nuts bully this into de facto law. We didn't get where we are today by standing up to their kind.

Gov. Asa Hutchinson, again.

In an interview Sunday, he continued to tap dance around discrimination against gay people. In an interview during a library program with Deborah Robinson, he said about the "religion protection" legislation he signed, which provides a religious pretext for those who want to discriminate against gay people:

"The challenge for us in Arkansas is that the majority of citizens, as expressed by their vote on the constitutional amendment, defines marriage as between one man and one woman," Hutchinson said. "That is the constitution of Arkansas, and it's not something you disregard with callousness or just because you want to go a different direction. So you have some strong-held beliefs that the people of Arkansas have versus their common-sense desire not to discriminate. We don't want to discriminate against anyone."

Translation: I don't want to discriminate against anyone unless they are gay or transgender. That kind of discrimination is legal in Arkansas and I intend to keep it that way. Yes, the Arkansas Constitution declares equal rights for all, but I choose to go a different direction.

The bully of Bigelow, Jason Rapert, actually stands out. He disrespects the Constitution and yearns for a theocratic state shaped by Rapert. But at least he's honest about it.

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