Unforced Error — John Hickenlooper Reveals His Inner Obama

During a 2009 interview with Eden Lane, who hosts a show called OUTSpoken, a Colorado Public Television show about the LGBT community, gubernatorial candidate John Hickenlooper said that the “knuckle-dragging rednecks on the Western Slope share the same backwards thinking that led to the murder of gay student Matthew Shepard” in Wyoming a few years back.

OK, I might have embellished that a bit.  Here is what he did say:

Eden Lane: For the Matthew Shepard foundation to choose Denver to have as it’s home, I think that might surprise some people since they didn’t live in Colorado, he didn’t go to school in Colorado, there really wasn’t that strong a connection. What do you think is it about the environment here in Denver that allowed them to choose this as their home?

Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper: I think a couple things, I mean, you know, the tragic death of Matthew Shepard occurred in Wyoming. Colorado and Wyoming are very similar. We have some of the same, you know, backwards thinking in the kind of rural Western areas you see in, you know, Montana, Wyoming, Colorado, New Mexico.

Wow, rural voters in four states distastefully characterized in a single sentence; bitter clingers and all that. 

The strange thing is that this is such an unforced error.  The question was a softball that would have allowed Hickenlooper to say nice things about Denver and Colorado — “What do you think is it about the environment here in Denver that allowed [a gay/lesbian focused foundation] to choose this as their home?”  How about: “Colorado has a large and active gay and lesbian community and it is a wonderfully tolerant state.  We are honored that the foundation chose Colorado to be its home.”  How difficult is that?

But it appears that, like Obama, Hickenlooper may not be so enamored of folks outside the urban areas. 

Somehow, I suspect this will get far less play than Ken Buck’s comments about gays and nature v. nurture.  For example, there is not a not a word about it on the Denver Post’s political page.  The gang at the Post’s The Spot blog also seem to have missed it.  And nothing on 9News.  Hmmm.  Why would that be?

Via Hot Air.

UPDATE:  Complete Colorado has it, of course.

UPDATE II:  Curtis Hubbard has posted it at The Spot, and has asked Hickenlooper’s spokesman for comment.  Good job, Curtis.

UPDATE III:  The response from Hick’s spokesman:

“John was making the point that the kind of intolerance that led to Matthew Shepard’s murder is not unique to a single community in Wyoming. It’s something that can happen in any community. He wishes he had articulated the point better to make it clear that any community is susceptible to hatred, but he continues to feel strongly that the intolerance that killed Shepard is backwards and not acceptable,” Hickenlooper spokesman George Merritt said.

The problem is, of course, that Hickenlooper was not talking about “any community” — such as Denver — being “susceptible to hatred.”  He was talking about “backwards thinking” among the particular people who live in “rural Western areas” that makes them susceptible to hatred as the problem.

By the way, it was not “intolerance that killed Shepard.”  It was two assholes who, according to prosecutors, pretended to be gay to gain Shepard’s trust so they could rob him that beat the poor guy to death.  Smearing the entire rural communities of four states with such “backwards thinking” is just wrong.  Hickenlooper owes an apology.

Published in: on October 22, 2010 at 10:42 am  Leave a Comment  

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