Bonehead(s) of the Week

Lindel Toups is a member of the Parish Council of LaFourche Parish, Louisiana. Under normal circumstances, his chances of coming to national media attention would seem extremely minimal. But Lindel Toups seems to have been very determined to beat those long odds.

Toups has achieved his fifteen minutes of notoriety by pushing a ballot measure that would transfer $800,000 in public funding from the local library system to the budget for the construction of a new jail. To be clear, the library system would lose $800,000 in allocations in each of the next thirty years. In 2013, that amount would represent over 11% of its annual budget.

So the basic proposition here is kind of dubious.

But the case that Toups has made for the proposed transfer of funds has rendered it ridiculous–not to mention incredibly offensive.

Here is what Toups said to a reporter with the local newspaper: “They’re teaching Mexicans how to speak English. Let that son of a bitch go back to Mexico. There’s just so many things they’re doing that I don’t agree with. . . .  Them junkies and hippies and food stamps [recipients] and all, they use the library to look at drugs and food stamps [on the Internet]. I see them do it.”

So Toups is pointedly outraged that one of the library’s eight branches is actually serving the area’s growing Hispanic population by offering English-language instruction and that it has made efforts to communicate with those patrons through signage and newsletters written in Spanish.

At the risk of highlighting the obvious, Toups puts the lie to the commonplace anti-immigrant argument that the immigrants themselves don’t want to assimilate. Clearly, the opponents of immigration, at least those represented by Toups, don’t want the immigrants to assimilate and therefore want to obstruct their assimilation.

Likewise, I was not aware that Hispanic-Americans were synonymous with “junkies and hippies and food stamps,” or, for that matter, that “junkies and hippies and food stamps” would patronize the local library “to look at drugs and food stamps” on the Internet. One could ask what might be the harm in looking—or for that matter, what might be the purpose of looking. (And if a food stamp could, indeed, look at a food stamp, what exactly would be the offense? Narcissism?)

Yes, I am actually trying to build toward some definitively dismissive and sarcastic comment on this mindlessly insufferable drivel. I have lost my mind.

But, unfortunately, Lindel Toups’s ignorance is not the whole story here. As soon as the story began to go viral, Far-Right commentators followed the lead of Ercik Erickson at the RedState blog in rushing to point out that Lindel Toup is a Democrat—and in demanding that President Obama and Nancy Pelosi issue immediate public apologies.

And for what would they be apologizing? Simply for being leaders of the party to which Lindel Toups belongs.


Here are two immediate observations on that proposition.

First, I would agree that President Obama and Nancy Pelosi should apologize for Lindel Toups, but only after the GOP leadership apologizes for all of the nonsense spouted over even the last month or two by everyone with their party affiliation. Even if the GOP leadership were immediately to accede to that arrangement, President Obama and Nancy Pelosi would not have to issue their own apologies until sometime in the next president’s first term. The GOP leadership could begin by apologizing for all of the nonsense that they themselves have uttered. In fact, Erick Erickson himself would seem to have a sizable number of apologies to make. (To start with, he might consider apologizing to the women of Texas for tweeting a link to a sale on coat hangers after he was challenged over his support for the state’s draconian new anti-Choice restrictions on women’s health centers.)

Second, the very fact that Far-Right commentators such as Erickson rushed to point out that Lindel Toups is a registered Democrat is in itself very extraordinarily–and ironically–revealing. They recognized, quite rightly, that most readers would assume that Toups is a registered Republican. And why would would they make such an assumption? Because most of this kind of offensive nonsense is coming from the lunatic fringe—the bonehead brigade–of the Far Right. (That’s right, the most extreme of the extremists.) So, ironically, Erickson et al are demanding that President Obama and Nancy Pelosi apologize for a Democrat whose views are clearly not representative of their views as leaders of their party or of the views of the great majority of members of their party. In contrast, almost no GOP leader has ever apologized for anything said by anyone on the Far Right—perhaps because many of those things are actually very representative of the views of a large minority, if not a majority, of members of their party.

I would like someone to ask Lindel Toups for whom he voted in the last presidential election. I will make the educated guess that it was not President Obama.

And although I am a strong proponent of being as inclusive as possible, I will concede, albeit reluctantly, that if Lindel Toups were to feel conscience-bound to switch parties, I would accept his defection. And I would acknowledge that even an ignoramus may be capable, on occasion, of some measure of clear thought.

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