*FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE*
When I got a call at 7:55 am last Thursday from Nick Bata, our Insurance Commissioner candidate, I knew something was up. He proceeded to tell me that something awful was coming down the pike, and it turned out to be the “Make America Rape Again” press release that has blown up to national proportions. I somewhat laughed it off when I first heard it. Who could care so much about an old Facebook conversation? Facebook is the sewer, and to point at a particular turd floating down the pipes seemed silly to me. I figured that in the year 2016, people would be savvy-enough consumers of information to know when someone else was attempting to manipulate their thoughts and emotions regarding a particular person or event. Boy, was I wrong.
What started as a snarky comment turned into a misleading press release from Ruth Buffalo’s campaign, then into a hack job headline by WDAY, which then resulted in the headline going national and taking on its own life. More headlines like “Libertarian Party of North Dakota’s new slogan ‘Make America Rape Again’”, and “Nick Bata Believes Women Should Make Money Stripping” started to appear. The deviations from the truth that these headlines began to take were astounding. How could anyone who considers themselves a “journalist” be comfortable with the direction this story took? But before I retell the whole tale, let’s get a little context.
The whole ordeal started as a debate on Facebook about the concept of rape culture. While I generally feel that the term “Rape Culture” is too broadly applied, and is too often used as a bludgeon, I believe there is a conversation to be had about how women are treated in society. Historically, women have been treated like second-class citizens, and while great strides have been made, I am still troubled when I see examples like Brock Turner getting a slap on the wrist. It bothers me when I see women slut shamed, but men get high fives for sexual conquest. It bothers me when Trump says “grab” (I could care less that he said “pussy”), and it’s swept under the rug as “locker room talk”. It bothers me that women are considered property of men in all of the Abrahamic religions, and that modern Islam especially has a problem with this (but of course, pointing that out makes me a racist apparently, so maybe I’ll get my own headline). At any rate, I believe there is a discussion to be had regarding the treatment of women in society.
I’ve also seen many of the arguments for rape culture fade under scrutiny. The gender wage gap appears to be a myth, for example. The common claim that 1 in 5 women are raped in college also appears to be a myth. I also never hear mention of the fact from the PC crowd that more men get raped in America than women, when prison populations are considered. So rape doesn’t appear to be the main concern of many who cry “rape culture”, merely perceived victimization.
It becomes difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff simply because it is such a radioactive topic, and one misplaced utterance can lead to destruction of one’s reputation, career prospects, or otherwise. This is the debate into which Nick waded.
From Here To There
Agree or disagree with Mr. Bata, what he said, and what was widely reported, were two different things. Nick began his conversation on Facebook raising many of the same points I raised above, and attempted to have a civil conversation about the topic. Topics ranged from the main talking points of rape culture to the economics of a woman’s choice to be an erotic dancer, and how society shouldn’t slut shame them if that is a choice they make.
However, when the threats and personal attacks started rolling in, as they inevitably do when discussing this topic, Nick responded with his own brand of snark. “Make America Rape Again” was his flippant response to mindless attacks directed at him, designed to push the throbbing red buttons of the offended masses.
Taken in context, this statement is no more offensive than the comments directed at him (many of which have since been deleted on that conversation thread). It is clear from Nick’s other statements that he is not a rape apologist, does not condone rape, does not support Trump, and has deep concern for how women suffer from the untruths that poison the well of conversation. Taken out of context, this statement is monstrous, and the ND Democrats pounced. Before long, a screenshot of ONLY that phrase accompanied a press release from Ruth Buffalo’s campaign, the Democratic candidate for Insurance Commissioner. Fresh off an embarrassing debate performance, Ruth no doubt felt she needed an angle to garner votes, and what better way to make up for a lack of cogent policy than to attack the character of your political opponents.
What started as a press release turned into gristle for the media machine, and ballooned to massive proportions. The inaccuracy of the reporting was matched only by the scope of its reach. This was character assassination at its finest, so “Kudos” to the ND Democratic Party. You finally managed to get a headline in North Dakota.
If anyone bothers to truly understand Mr. Bata’s concern, it is this: real victims of sexual assault suffer from the “cry wolf” effect of so many disingenuous arguments being thrown into the mix of “rape culture”. However, to question the main narrative is to invite an apoplectic response from large swaths of our population who will have no interest in engaging on the topic. They are there to shut down the speech of those who don’t agree with them. Lynch culture is a far bigger problem than rape culture in America, in my opinion.
Build A Better Man Trap, And The Rats Will Beat A Path To Your Door
Will LPND Dump Mr. Bata?
No. We will not, despite the many calls for us to tar and feather him. Nick may be indelicate when speaking passionately about subjects he cares about, but he didn’t do anything that would warrant us throwing him under the bus. The shame here belongs to Ruth Buffalo, the Democratic Party of ND, and the waves of easily manipulated, violent responders.
Nick doesn’t care to be North Dakota’s Insurance Commissioner. He is running to abolish the office, and return the Insurance racket to free market principles that will drive down prices, increase accessibility, and allow for competition to arise. Only fools who believe in socialist insurance scams and price fixing would want the job, so it probably is better that a Democrat or Republican hold the title.
However, the reason we are happy to have Nick in our party is because he has a tree-trunk understanding of the problems facing our country, and while I will agree he could use a lesson in tact, and that I don’t always agree with his stance on certain issues, I will not agree that he deserves the treatment he’s gotten. It was a smear job, plain and simple.
The Libertarian Party is the party of free speech, and it is a large tent. We have pro-choice and pro-life members. We have evangelicals and anti-theists. We have those who believe in rape culture, and those who don’t. All that matters to Libertarians is that the government control over our lives gets rolled back, that we stave of the disaster coming due to our debt, and that we stop exporting so much violence with our military and police.
In fact, most of us running for the Libertarian Party are imperfect candidates. We generally haven’t lived our lives with the intention of running for public office, and anyone who wanted to ruin our lives probably could. I’ve said many things on Facebook that could be taken out of context and used against me, and I have an arrest on my record for using marijuana back in college. I love heavy metal, violent video games, and using swear words. I, like my compatriots, aren’t politicians. We are a plucky group of everyday folks who just happen to understand economics, history, and central banking, and decided to get up off the couch to do something about the constant failures of the entrenched political parties. It is exactly these types of fed up, everyday people that we will need to correct the political landscape. People with no interest in ruling over your lives. People who want to take over government in order to drastically leave you alone, and have no real political career aspirations. We are the cure for what ails this country, but you’ll all have to learn to accept us, warts and all. More than anything, everyone needs to learn when they are getting played by a media apparatus designed to do only one thing…drive clicks.
So, I implore everyone to step back, take a breath, and refocus on our most pressing issues. The established parties NEED you to take your eye off the ball. If they can divide us over small issues, they can get away with destroying our lives while no one notices.