(Note: This entry has been updated to reflect changes which removed references to Senator Rapert threatening to shoot anyone)
As a State Representative, one of the first lessons I learned is that you are always on in this job. I can be in sweatpants, picking up milk at the grocery store, and a constituent can come up to me and start questioning me, or yelling at me, about an issue. I’ll certainly say that this can be a burden at times, but the truth is that’s too bad for me: as an elected official, people have the right – I’d argue the obligation – to question their elected officials, even if the timing is inconvenient for me.
Apparently, that is not a universally held belief among elected officials.
Twitter user Lancekwhite said that he saw Arkansas State Senator Jason Repert in a Lowe’s parking lot. White said that he attempted to introduce himself to Reprert and ask him a question about marriage. White said that Repert was rude to him and told the Lowe’s employee to hurry up and load his truck.
In a since deleted tweet, Senator Repert posted:
Not smart to come up and harass somebody in a parking lot who’s carrying a handgun. Better be glad you decided to walk away. #armed&ready
When questioned about it, Senator Rapert denied that the tweet was in reference to White:
Sure. He was just referring to someone else who was bothering him in public. Okay.
Meanwhile, as the rest of the conversation about shows, Senator Rapert then started blocking users (never a smart move for an elected official):
Senator Rapert then made this response:
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Senator had been threatened for his beliefs; that’s certainly happened to me, albeit from the other side of the political spectrum. And it is certainly within the realm of possibilities that the conversation went as rudely as the Senator described; I’ve had no shortage of interactions with people who think that, since I’m an elected official, basic rules of human decency don’t apply (pro-tip: they do).
That being said, even if you take everything that Senator Rapert says at face value, his explanation is still hilariously inadequate. His tweet was clearly in reference to White, unless he had some other run-in with someone else at a parking lot, and he just chose not to discuss that incident. He also offers no alternative explanation for his original tweet, thus making his response even more ludicrous. And, of course, his still reminding the public that he is armed after a negative interaction with a constituent. If I was armed, and tweeted about it every time I had an interaction with someone I did not like, there would have been a lot of tweets about me owning a firearm. It sucks, and it’s not pleasant, but you can’t remind people you are armed every time they don’t speak to you with proper respect. Even in his own explanation, Senator Repert never said he felt threatened by Mr. White. So why need to remind anyone that he’s armed?
Oh, and notice what Senator Repert did towards the end of his statement: He pivoted to his “Christian values” and cited a bible passage. This, in response to him being questioned for reminding the public that he’s armed after a constituent attempted to talk to him.
This one has me more fired up than usual because it’s so offensive. It directly contradicts everything that elected officials are supposed to be: accessible to our constituents and willing to tolerate multiple perspectives. To respond like this to someone who might have been rude, and then to dig, shows that Senator Repert’s constituents are receiving a huge disservice.
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