Tim Walters — the Republican co-founder of ReOpen Maryland, a right-wing protest group that demanded the quick reopening of the state’s businesses amid the ongoing coronavirus epidemic — has tested positive for COVID-19.
“I was diagnosed yesterday at the ER with COVID-19 and here I am months after not wearing a mask at rallies, churches and so on and so it’s funny how capricious this thing is,” Walters said in several Facebook videos which have since been deleted, according to The Capital Gazette.
The 53-year-old diabetic says he first started experiencing a dry cough in March, just before his group’s protests got underway. Soon after, he developed vision problems, headaches, and a fever.
But while he told people he’d come into contact with to monitor their symptoms, he has refused to work with Maryland contact tracers to help them manage new infections he might have caused. “I will not share anybody’s information with the government. I will not do it,” he reportedly said.
In a video he posted on Friday, he blamed “Satan” for him contracting the disease and said that COVID-19 had never been spread at his anti-lockdown rallies.
“No one ever got sick at any of our rallies, to include me. Start a church, and I get sick. I got it because Satan deemed to get it. Because he wanted to quiet my work, to slow down the building of a church. That’s what this is about. But the world won’t see that. Why? Because they live behind a veil. They choose to hate God,” Walters said.
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QAnon Sends Death Threats to Gay Senator for Trying to Make Sex Laws Less LGBTQ-phobic
Democratic California State Senator Scott Wiener has received death threats from far-right supporters of the QAnon conspiracy theory after he introduced legislation to reform the state’s sex offender registry to be less queerphobic.
Right now, California law allows judges to refuse to list the full names of certain offenders from the sex offender registry if the judge finds a valid reason to do so—let’s say, for example, if an 18-year-old has sex with a 16-year-old. The rule only applies for offenders who have sex with minor ages 15 to 17 and it only applies to penis-in-vagina sex.
As such, in any cases involving digital penetration, anal or oral sex—sexual methods often used by LGBTQ people—the judge has no choice but to list the offender’s full name without exception.
Wiener wanted to change the law to include all types of sex, and that’s when the death threats started pouring in.
“You’re dead. Dead. Dead. Dead. I’ll publicly execute you. I’m gonna embarrass you. Pedophile,” one Instagram user wrote.
Another wrote, “I’ll come cut your head off and deliver it to your mom if you even considering introducing your ‘bill.’ Got it?”
Others messages were anti-Semitic or accused Weiner of being a child rapist. Because it’s against the law for elected officials to block users on social media, all of his social media channels have to remain open to such threats.
The QAnon conspiracy theory believes that the Trump administration will expose a top-secret international child sex trafficking network run by “deep state” senior Democrats who are determined to stop Trump at all costs. Its theories infamously led an armed gunman in 2017 to enter a gay-owned Washington D.C. pizza parlor, Comet Ping Pong, to investigate “Pizzagate,” the claim that the pizzeria had child sex slaves locked in its nonexistent basement.
QAnon conspiracy theorists have become more active during the COVID-19 lockdown and the runup to the November 3 presidential elections as many U.S. residents find themselves at home without jobs.
“Whether its QAnon or Russian troll farms, these are factories of false info designed to undermine democracy and public discourse, and also to send a message to elected officials that if you pursue unpopular progressive change to help marginalized groups like queer kids, ‘We’re going to target you,'” Weiner told Mother Jones.
Racist, anti-abortion group plans in-person “straight pride” event in a U.S. COVID-19 hotspot
The so-called National Straight Pride Coalition (NSPC) is planning an event in Modesto, California for August 29, 2020—in the middle of the ongoing coronavirus epidemic—even though their 2019 event only drew dozens of attendees and 250 counter-protesters.
NSPC’s organizers told ABC 10 that the second annual Stanislaus County Straight Pride event is meant to be “a celebration of life in all of its aspects: masculinity; femininity; the natural family of man, woman, and children; children born and unborn; Western civilization; Christianity – everything which builds the culture of life.”
But the racist, Islamophobic, and anti-LGBTQ undertones of that rhetoric hides the NSPC’s secondary agenda: hijacking the racial justice movement to oppose access to reproductive healthcare.
Their event will take place in the parking lot of a Planned Parenthood to “to illustrate the horrific reality that it is the greatest mass killer of blacks in the history of our nation,” NSPC’s website says. Because abortions only make up three percent of Planned Parenthood’s services, NSPC is arguing that supporting low-cost reproductive and other health services to women is racism.
The NSPC’s website calls transgender identity “insanity,” a “psychosis,” and a “sexual pathology” and equates the LGBTQ movement with pedophilia and Satanism. The website also specifically cites “Caucasians” and “Christianity” as two of its founding principles, which is telling for a group that purports to stand-up for Black people.
Last year, Don Grundmann, NSPC’s founder, said in a Modesto City Council meeting, “We’re a totally peaceful, racist group.”
MoPride Inc., a local LGBTQ non-profit has already planned a counter-protest almost immediately upon hearing about Grundmann’s event.
“We can’t just ignore it,” the non-profit’s Pride director Zola Hayes said. “They are absolutely representative of an emboldening of far-right groups that use hateful rhetoric to galvanize their base.”
California is currently the U.S. state with the highest number of coronavirus cases.
Anti-mask anti-lockdown right-wing Texas lawmaker nearly dies of coronavirus
Republican Texas state Representative Tony Tinderholt — a right-wing politician who has vocally opposed Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s statewide shutdown and mandatory mask orders — has nearly died from the COVID-19 coronavirus. He is the first-known case of the Texas state legislator contracting the potentially lethal respiratory virus.
Tinderholt, who had previously compared the shutdown and mask mandate to “government overreach” and “socialism,” said that his first symptoms of COVID-19 consisted of mild joint pain that turned severe, bad headaches and a loss of taste and smell. Then, his symptoms took a turn for the worse.
“I truly thought last Friday was gonna be my last,” Tinderholt wrote to the Texas Tribune. He told the publication that he and his family had been wearing masks in public even though he himself had proposed calling together a special session of the Texas legislature to overturn Abbott’s executive order making mask-wearing mandatory for all Texans.
“I would like for people to try to mitigate risk by wearing masks,” he said. “But wear them because you think it’s right. I’m sure it works to some degree — it just didn’t for me.”
He remains in recovery with nausea, a cough, and breathing difficulties.
Tinderholt is known as one of the state’s most conservative legislators. He wrote of the state’s COVID-19-prevention measures:
“Therefore, if we allow government to continue to grow one more iota over this level of threat, then we are ushering in the very foundations of socialism. The question I would encourage you ask yourself is this: do you want to be the governor who helped socialism take root in Texas or one who stood for freedom in the midst of great pressure? I know we both stand for freedom and personal liberty over socialist ideals. However, they will take root if we do not permanently change this course now.”
He has also proposed legislation to criminalize abortion, has said that immigrants dying at the southern border are the only way to stop immigration into the U.S., complained about a judge who upheld the Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage (though he himself has been married at least four times), and was once placed under an ethics investigation for “misplacing” $15,000 in campaign funds.
Tinderholt is just the latest anti-mask Republican to catch COVID-19. Jason Rapert, an anti-gay Republican Arkansas state senator who called face mask mandates “draconian” and shared articles calling COVID-19 a hoax, tested positive for COVID-19 last week after speaking at a church service and other recent events without a face mask.
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