After more than few years of my cataloging David Howard’s bigotry online, the Billings Gazette has finally come out against his remarks, in a powerful editorial condemning Howard for “his platform to spread so much division,” complete with a gallery of posts culled from my blog that catalog the depth and breadth of Howard’s hatred.
I’m glad the Gazette finally addressed Howard, although I have to admit that I neither think the editorial went far enough nor was timely enough. The same Gazette called for the resignation of John Walsh for a citation issue in June didn’t call for Howard to resign for suggesting Civil War or wishing the death of the President or making deeply offensive remarks about the LGBTQ community and Montana’s Indians. If lapses in judgment were sufficient warrant to call for John Walsh’s resignation, surely the total lack of judgment demonstrated by David Howard justifies the same.
And the editorial is late: Howard’s remarks have been on full display for years. My first post on the subject came in 2012, and I specifically called out the media’s failure to cover it on Twitter and my site for the next three years. Telling the people of Carbon and Stillwater counties that they’ve elected the Alabama sheriff from a movie about the Civil Rights Movement months after he’s elected just doesn’t do much, as one comment on the Gazette story shows:
I’ve voted for him but never knew he had a facebook page. I’ve written him but unlike some democrats, he has never responded. Guess I need to find his facebook page.
That voter should have had that information months ago—and this was a story worth covering. All that being said, this is a positive step. Online comments like these deserve exposure, and I’m glad the Billings Gazette got there. And I hope they remain vigilant. Howard is not an extremist outlier in the conservative wing of the Montana Republican Party; from Birthers to Birchers, they’ve got them all–and that deserves attention from the major media.
The other issue the editorial addresses is an important one. Knowing his views, the Republican leadership in the House of Representatives and Senate gave him important committee assignments. This session he’s even the Vice Chair of the Senate Public Health, Welfare, and Safety Committee. It’s their right not to be quoted in the story about Howard, I guess, but they do need to be held accountable for their decision to give him any power in the Legislature. I hope the Gazette follows up on that. [pullquote] Telling the people of Carbon, Sweet Water, and Stillwater counties that they’ve elected the Alabama sheriff from a movie about the Civil Rights Movement months after he’s elected just doesn’t do much. [/pullquote]
As a final note, the most wonderful thing about the editorial is that it reveals that Howard is not only a bigot, but one who lacks the courage of his racist, homophobic, hate-filled convictions. Once the Gazette asked him about his posts, he took them down and refused to take credit for their ideas:
Howard deleted these posts from his Facebook account around the time I contacted him. He responded saying that though the posts were made from his account, on his page with his photo and apparently in his own words, “(they) are intended only to spark discussion and are not reflective of my own personal views.”
It’s absurd to suggest that Howard’s own words were not his “own personal views,” but it primarily shows the cowardice that lurks in the hearts of bigots. It’s easy to spew hatred in a closed forum of your like-minded and small-minded fellow believers, but most bigots scurry in the sunlight, and Howard is no exception.