David Hines (hradzka) wrote,
David Hines

getting Zumboed: what's fair game?

I usually stay away from politics posts, but I thought this was an interesting item. A few days ago, USA TODAY ran an "Obama's making inroads with Republicans!" article. The piece focuses specifically on business executives, and one of the guys they quoted was a fellow named Dan Cooper, who lives in Montana and owns a company that makes custom rifles. They've got a very good reputation among gun aficionados. Cooper started sending Obama money after his speech at the 2004 Democratic convention, and decided to vote for him this year, he said.

The reaction of gun enthusiasts was immediate, and strongly negative. Within a few days, the complaints had led to Cooper getting ousted from his own company.

This story is noteworthy for multiple reasons, and I thought it might be interesting to folks on my flist who occasionally wonder what gun nuts think. Because you may see some commentary on this in some other places, and I wanted to give some background on things you might miss if you're not familiar with this particular corner of society.

Cooper has other reasons to vote for Obama -- among other things, he's unhappy about the war (USA Today is not specific, but I suspect they mean Iraq) and feels the Republicans have moved too far to the right -- but I mention this background to explain that Obama partisans trying to get gun enthusiasts to vote for their guy should really emphasize other issues the gun enthusiast might support Obama on, because gun rights really aren't a selling point for his candidacy. The objection to Obama among gun nuts isn't just because Obama is liberal and gun nuts tend to be conservative; there's actually some fairly strong history on this issue. Obama served as a director of the strongly anti-gun Joyce Foundation, which (among other things) paid people to write anti-gun-rights law review articles, and bought dedicated issues of law review journals in which to run them. (There is a lot of astroturfing on the anti-gun side of things, probably because not nearly as many people care passionately about banning guns as care passionately about owning them; the American Hunters and Shooters Organization, for example, is a false flag organization staffed by anti-gun activists that was designed to peel off gun owners from the NRA; it failed at that, so now it just pretends to be a pro-gun group in order to give cover to anti-gun politicians and get quoted in newspapers.)

The Cooper thing isn't without precedent. A while back, an outdoor writer named Jim Zumbo (the Washington Post described him as well-known, but most gun nuts I knew hadn't heard of him before this) decried the use of the AR-15 in hunting, saying he'd go so far as to call ARs "terrorist rifles." Problem: the AR-15 is *the most popular rifle in America.* It's used by sportsmen, hobbyists, kit-builders, competitors. They didn't take kindly to Zumbo telling them to go screw themselves. And returned the favor. In spades. Zumbo's career went up in smoke, and his name became a verb. Dan Cooper? He got Zumboed.

But here's the thing: when I read about what happened to Dan Cooper, my first thought wasn't of Jim Zumbo. It was of Jonathan Crutchley.

Crutchley is one of the two founders of Manhunt. If you're a gay man, you know about Manhunt and may well be logged into it as you read this. If you're not a gay man, you've probably never heard of it. I hadn't, until I read this extremely interesting article. Manhunt is a gay male hook-up site. Pick a profile name, tell people what you're into, where you'd like to meet up, your physical stats, and when you want it (most often selected option: "Right Now!"), and look around for what you want. As article author Michael Joseph Gross explains, "This wealth of information makes Manhunt seem the most efficient place for its target customers to find sex, because the site’s comprehensive search function can produce in seconds a list of, say, brown-eyed bottoms within one mile of your zip code wanting to get it on 'Right Now!'"

Gross's musings about whether Manhunt and internet cruising in general were having a corrosive effect on gay men -- himself included -- caused a bit of a stir, but they weren't the big shocker. No, there was something else: Manhunt co-founder Jonathan Crutchley was described in the article as "a liberal Republican with a tight white beard."

That was all. That was enough.

Crutchley resigned from Manhunt's board in short order after a search of public records confirmed his donations to the McCain campaign. This caused Politico's Ben Smith to quip, "The executives of a gay sex site are apparently more concerned about the perception that they're associated with John McCain than McCain is about the association with them." That's not wrong; check out the statement from his partner, Larry Basile. *Man,* that's harsh. Compare it to the statement from Dan Cooper's board!

The Crutchley thing didn't sit well with me, and I found it more troubling than I found the Zumbo or Cooper incidents. I know that politics is hardball, and it's never more so than when dealing with things people find deeply and personally important. But Crutchley didn't campaign for McCain, didn't even publically state his support; he privately gave the campaign money, which became known because of a throwaway line in a news article led to a search of information available under public records laws. That seems like it's going over the line to me.

Of course, I'm a heterosexual gun enthusiast, so I'd be inclined to think that way.

What do you guys think? Where would you, personally, draw the line on stuff like that?
Tags: guns, politics
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