The Company You Keep

Christopher-Aaron Felker, seen here sporting a new fashion-casual look, went before the Burlington City Council Monday night and made an ass of himself.

Nothing new for him. In fact, his entire purpose in life seems to be trolling the libs. I’m going to pay as little attention as I can to his remarks because, frankly, attention is the air he breathes. But his little performance, for that’s what it was, can’t go without notice because it once again raises the question: What is acceptable behavior for a Republican Party official in Vermont?

He is, after all, STILL the chair of the Burlington Republican Committee. If his attacks on the LGBTQ+ community don’t make him persona non grata, then his admission of public vandalism might just do the trick. I don’t know, we’d have to ask Gov. Phil Scott, who shares the Republican brand with Felker — as well as notables like this guy.

The “Paul Bean” who took to Twitter repeating a thoroughly debunked anti-trans rumor is the same “Paul Bean” who was endorsed by Phil Scott in his bid for state Senate last year, and was just appointed by Scott to the State Workforce Development Board. Perhaps Bean will use his position to advocate for the public placement of litterboxes in order to attract members of the “otherkin” community to move to Vermont.

Bean’s appointment was part of the same tranche as ya boy Rob North, ultraconservative Christian who believes that forests, wetlands and waterways are as responsible for Lake Champlain’s pollution as agriculture or any other human activity.

To sum up, that’s two conservatives espousing decidedly fringey views just elevated to responsible positions by our putatively moderate governor. The same governor who endorsed both men’s candidacies for the Legislature. The same governor who thought that the public face of Vermont extremism, John Klar, would make a marvelous addition to the state Senate.

And the same governor who ought to have enough pull in his own party to orchestrate the removal of Felker as the publicly obnoxious and utterly unsuccessful city party chair.

Instead, Scott falls back on his customary dismay about divisive rhetoric instead of using his authority to do something about it. Not endorsing extremists would be a good start.

As far as I know, Scott hasn’t been asked why he endorsed Bean, Klar and North, nor what he thinks of Felker’s latest escapade. If he was, I don’t doubt that he’d say the same thing his spokesflack Jason Maulucci said last April about the extremists in his own party — that the governor “unequivocally condemns… polarizing rhetoric that seeks only to divide and cause harm.”

Condemns, that is, without naming names or party affiliations. I guess he can’t afford to alienate the Klars and Norths and Felkers of modern-day Republicanism because, really, they comprise a majority of the Republican base.

Now, trigger warning, let’s get to Felker’s remarks. If you’ve had enough of this assclown, feel free to skip the rest of this post.

Felker came before City Council to defend (and claim responsibility for) an anti-trans stickering campaign that’s been a blight on the Queen City streetscape. “Stickering campaigns are common forms of free and political speech,” he said, and complained of “the threat of state violence to attack and suppress political speech here,” by which he meant the efforts of city workers to remove the stickers.

In fact, he asserted that stickers are “constitutionally protected speech,” which I guess means that no one can ever ever remove a sticker from any public location. I’m sorry, but you’ve got no right to slap your sticker on the Pride Center’s front door and expect them to preserve your alleged exercise of the First Amendment.

Felker denied the stickers are “transphobic.” It’s true that they don’t come right out and say “We Hate Trans People,” but they do deny the very existence of trans folk with phrases like “No one is born in the wrong body” and “Listen to detransitioners.”*

*Detransitioning does happen, but rarely because a person changes their mind. The relative handful of people who detransition do so because of external resistance such as “pressure from family, non-affirming school environments, and increased vulnerability to violence, including sexual assault.” To the extent that “detransitioning” is a thing, the solution is not to prohibit gender-affirming health care. It’s to erase the stigma and end the bigotry.

The stickers are not technically transphobic, but they are definitely hate speech. The good people of Burlington have no responsibility to preserve Felker’s expressions of intolerance. In fact, the city wouldn’t be out of line to bring vandalism charges against Felker, especially after he told Council that the stickering would continue.

And let’s pre-emptively deal with his inevitable complaint of selective enforcement. Police work is always selective. Traffic stops are selective. You can’t defend yourself against a speeding ticket by complaining that other people were breaking the speed limit as well. You can’t complain if they catch you robbing a bank or assaulting someone or cheating on your taxes because other people got away with it.

Felker seems to think he is doing something noble and principled here. It’s more like whipping out his Johnson and taking a piss on every lamppost. (I assume he’s got a Johnson because he’s so obsessed with gender stuff. I have no personal knowledge of the matter.)

And yet, Phil Scott won’t come out and address Felker’s remarks or vandalism or position of responsibility in the Republican Party. Heck, for all I know, he might appoint Felker to the Vermont Commission on Women.


2 thoughts on “The Company You Keep

  1. P.

    Todays republican party– bullies, hypocrites and moral cowards. I am just 50 and to my dying day I will never vote republican.


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