After several hours of people pointing their fingers in her face and telling her she was going to hell, Keturah Cappadonia cracked.
In tears, the 28-year-old librarian in Coudersport, a rural town of 2,500 people, sent an e-mail to Joe Wilson and Dean Hamer, canceling the planned screening of their award-winning PBS documentary about the challenges of being openly gay in rural Pennsylvania.
Wilson and Hamer are traveling the state with their film “Out In The Silence,” and Perry County is on the list of future venues.
The leader of the Potter County Tea Party, through a local blogger, claimed the library was allowing conservative Christians to be “attacked for our beliefs at a public library we support with our tax money. This is wrong and cannot be tolerated.” Later, he apologized for using the tea party name to express his personal opinion.
Now, I know that last line is going to cause some people to squawk. It’s not an official position, so what’s the problem? The problem, dear readers, is that when enough members of your group get behind racist or homophobic positions, it tends to indicate that the group might be, you know, bigoted. Along the same lines, the bit about conservative Christians being “attacked” when people notice that they are sometimes not very nice to gays and lesbians is claptrap. If the shoe fits, wear it. If not, point that out and move on.
Oh, and by the way:
Although the local tea party official claimed “$1.5 million of local taxes” go to the library, the reality is its total budget last year was $117,000 – with less than $42,000 from local governments.
It’s not very nice to call someone a liar if you can’t prove they knowingly uttered a falsehood, but I’m at a loss to see how someone makes an honest error on the order of a hundredfold.
The good news here is small but indeed good: the article mentions that there are at least a few people willing to live as out gay folk (including the former chairman of the local Republican party!), and a few Christians willing to take up more tolerant positions.
In any event, the point here is not really whether being gay is an acceptable “lifestyle,” whatever that means. It’s not even really whether the Tea Party movement is in fact racist or homophobic, actually. It’s just that the more often the words “tea party” show up in proximity to intolerant positions, the more reasonable it will be to conclude that the movement is, in fact, intolerant. They’ve got an image problem, in other words, and it’s of their own making.