Don’t blow your wad in the first period. Tom Emmer, Jr.
That’s advice from dad to son.
On learning about the indiscreet Facebook photos of Tripp Emmer's underage drinking in the City Pages' story that was published today, we were inclined to dismiss them because the families of candidates aren't ordinarily legitimate campaign material. On reflection, though, this one is different, and it is different on multiple levels.
This is unlike the abuse heaped on Amy Carter or Chelsea Clinton by the likes of Rush Limbaugh.
Tripp Emmer is an employee of the Emmer for Governor campaign. Candidate Emmer has also sought the limelight for his children in the campaign, including Tripp, who offered an endorsement of his father in the current Emmer television commercial. It wasn't just a seven year old saying, "Vote for Daddy!" either. Tripp made a statement about lowering taxes and reforming government.
The moral character of a spokesman and endorser in such a case is a legitimate issue. If you don't think so, consider what happened to Tiger Woods when it became known what a philanderer he was. That's harsh, all right, and it would be too harsh here if it was only a little underage drinking. But it's not only a little underage drinking. Here is the most disturbing photo from the City Pages' Facebook photos (there are several), on the left.
That's Tripp Emmer, grinning and giving the thumbs up over an unconscious young woman who has had penises crudely drawn on her cheek and arm.
Let’s be direct: this is assault.
And the picture on the right? It’s a screen shot taken from the Emmer campaign commercial linked above. It’s about fifteen seconds into the video, and it shows Tripp Emmer giving the “thumbs up” after taking out the trash. A job well done in both cases, eh?
The Emmer campaign has mostly avoided talking about traditional family values issues in this campaign, supposedly focusing on bread-and-butter economic issues. It can do this by using the Emmer family as an enthymeme. Look at Tom Emmer's fecundity! He's pro-life! Just a big, good old fashioned heterosexual family here! Just like his patron Sarah Palin, Emmer's learned that you don't to say a word about these issues; you just need to use your family as a prop. And like Bristol Palin, Tripp Emmer's demonstrating that when you use your family as an symbol, their conduct becomes relevant.
Consider also the role of innuendo in the Republican effort: the recent episode of Luke Hellier "raising the spectre" of documents from Mark Dayton's divorce being "removed from the public record." This was viewed by some to be a fishing expedition that backfired, but the purpose was no more complicated than reminding everyone that Dayton's been divorced.
In a campaign where no one will talk about social issues like reproductive freedom and gay marriage directly, all that is left is whispering and innuendo.
Steve Timmer and Aaron Klemz
I’ve decided to move this up from the comment stream (I left the comment):
Here's a serious sounding Kate Parry talking to David Brauer about why the Strib didn't run the story:
Where is that bar? Parry says the circumstances are complex. If the arrest had been for a DUI, it would’ve been more serious and upped the chances of seeing print; had there been damage to property, same thing.
So, Kate, if Tripp and his buddies drew penises on the wall, rather than a girl, you would have published the story?
I’ve gotten some comments and email about whether the conduct shown in the photograph is assault. Just college kids being college kids! I don’t think so, but even if it is, it’s assault. Here’s a little exercise to show you why.
Let’s say you’re standing at a corner in downtown Minneapolis, waiting for the light to turn, and a college boy, perhaps drunk, comes up to you and says, “I want to draw penises on your face and body.” You tell him politely, but firmly, “no.” He does it anyway.
That’s assault, whether you’re harmed beyond the scrubbing needed to remove the penises or not. You would be entitled to defend yourself against the penises being applied, too.
The situation of the unconscious young woman is no different. She is entitled to say “no” to the obscene drawing on her body, and she is also entitled to defend herself against them. But she can’t, because she is unconscious. This brings up a very important concept in the law: an unconscious person cannot give consent to be drawn on, to be undressed, or to be raped. There are no exceptions for drunken college boys.
A belated thump of the tail to MNO for calling the CP story, and especially the photo above, to our attention.