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Facebook, Slavery and Bob Schaffer's Floundering Campaign

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Justin Schaffer, son of Republican Senate candidate Bob Schaffer, is truly sorry about his Facebook page, according to this story in the Denver Post. The site, which has been taken down but can still be found mirrored here, contained stuff guaranteed to provide political ammo against Justin's dad, including a picture of the pyramids with the declaration "Slavery Gets Shit Done" (at right) and an image of a machine-gun toting Republican Jesus with a backdrop of a Confederate flag.

Talk about a macaca moment. Having put the wrong state's mountain in his ad, muffed inquiries about his support of indentured servitude (it gets things done!) in the Mariana Islands, unleashed Dick Wadhams to boast how he's going to shove ads "up the ass" of opponent Mark Udall, and otherwise screwed the pooch, can the Schaffer campaign tumble into any worse hole than this?

Yes, politicians shouldn't be pilloried simply because their teenaged children have a tendency to do embarrassing things. Dick Lamm and Bill Owens both had their share of trials on that front. And Justin, being all of nineteen, may not quite grasp all the, uh, subtle nuances associated with slavery and Confederate flags. After all, he's just a college student -- not a history major, I trust -- with as crude a grasp of irony as, say, The New Yorker and its much-debated cover send-up of Obama as a jihadist.

But even a clueless collegian ought to be able to figure out that Facebook is hardly the right place to share private jokes with friends, and that certain topics -- slavery, swastikas, Holocaust, genocide, racial and ethnic sterotypes, jokes about rape, that kind of thing -- simply don't lend themselves to casual humor, ironic or otherwise, private or not. Especially if your dad is running for office.

Much as the liberal blogosphere is lighting up with denunciations of Schaffer and his "family values," his son's Facebook is hardly an offense on a par with Earl Butz and his talk about loose shoes and tight pussy. But not even a youthful desire to shock can make something funny that just isn't, and it will be hard to take Schaffer seriously in his quest for the moral "family" high ground when he seems to have missed having an important conversation with his son about racism and history. -- Alan Prendergast

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