The life of political commentators is comprised of complaining about things, usually because most things in politics are ugly and bad. However, occasionally we come across something that is good, just, right or fair, and it's important that we don't let the bad news overshadow the good news.
On September 20th, Ventura Mayor Bill Fulton used the term "teabaggers" to describe Tea Party activists who attended that night's city council meeting to protest a proposed ban on single-use plastic bags.
Unbeknownst to many people, "teabagger" is a derisive term for a certain kinky sex act. For a description of the act, as well as some nasty remarks on Tea Partiers and Fox News Channel, check out the Urban Dictionary.
Some tea partiers complained, and Mayor Fulton did a classy thing. I've received reports that he responded to individual complaints (even perusing my blog and addressing specific commenters that were critical of him) and apologized if he used that word but admitting he could not remember. When he was made aware of the video where he used it, he issued a public apology on his blog.
"I was unaware that Tea Party members dislike the term and did not know that it had a sexual connotation that the Tea Party, understandably, finds offensive," Fulton wrote. "I am sorry that I used this term in public and I certainly won't use it again."
It's certainly believable that a middle-aged gentleman like Fulton did not know what the slang word meant. Some Tea Partiers don't even know what it means, and many in the general public haven't heard the term before the Tea Party sprang onto the national scene in 2009. One baffled acquaintance asked me in a public setting what other meanings the word has. "Why don't people like being called that? What does teabagging mean?" I was asked, to my dismay.
Some people on the left--and I'm glad that Fulton is not one of these--know exactly what the term means and use it to humiliate conservatives.
But since the mayor offered an apology and a plausible explanation, we can hopefully put this issue to rest, and credit Fulton with handling this particular issue with courtesy and class.