Representative Franson’s “Animals”

Minnesota State Representative Mary Franson (R-Alexandria) recently shared a funny with her constituents:

“Last week, we worked on some welfare reform bills. And here, you know, it’s kind of ironic I’ll review this little funny clip that we got from a friend. And it says ‘Isn’t it ironic that the Food Stamp program, part of the Department of Agriculture, is pleased to be distributing the greatest amount of Food Stamps ever. Meanwhile, the Park Service, also part of the Department of Agriculture, asks us to please not feed the animals, (smirk) because the animals may grow dependent and not learn to take care of themselves.‘”

My goodness, but that IS a “funny little clip,” isn’t it?!

Just as it has ignored outrageous Bachmannisms over the years, Minnesota’s mainstream newspapers ignored this gem. That’s too bad. It could have been a teachable moment. Because when you strip away the breathtakingly dehumanizing language, you learn who these “animals” are:

▪ 47% are children under age 18.
▪ 8% are age 60 or older.
▪ 94% are U.S. born citizens.
▪ 41% live in a household with earnings from a job, which is not to diminish the plight of those in an even more difficult position, because they can’t find a job.

In other words, these “animals” are the kids at your neighborhood school, the disabled senior down the street, and the women making the minimum wage to clean your public restrooms.

And they are receiving an average food stamp benefit of $1.05 per person per meal, hardly a level that would tempt anyone to intentionally linger living in poverty.

Sometimes the only upside of preposterous poitical polemics is that they serve to raise awareness about reality in America. But first, the media has to be paying attention.

– Loveland

Post Publication Note: I see that the Star Tribune DID post a story on their Hotdish Politics blog. Pretty thin coverage, but coverage. I’m not sure if it ran in the newspaper. My mistake. I didn’t see it in my initial Google.

23 thoughts on “Representative Franson’s “Animals”

  1. I hope someone sends those statistics to Franson. She could use some education about food stamps. No doubt many of her constituents are on food stamps, regardless of their political persuasion.

  2. Jeremy Powers says:

    Never mind that the National Park Service is NOT part of the Department of “eggreeculture,” as Franson says. It is part of the Department of the Interior – always has been. The Department of “eggreeculture” does run the National Forest Campgrounds. Distinctions such as this are probably beyond the nitwit who put the poster together, but I would like to think that a Minnesota State Representative would know a touch more about government than Franson. This reminds me of Sarah Palin saying the president is protected by the Department of Law.

    1. Joe Loveland says:

      Yeah, I noticed that too. But the inaccuracy is much less disturbing to me than the underlying value. Historically when politicians dehumanize segments of the population, really bad things sometimes follow.

      1. Christ almighty! As cloddish as Ms. Franson looks and sounds I’m always left imagining the audience for this kind of stuff. A lot of ’em up in Chisago County, scheduling grandma’s next Medicaid hip replacement. Good one, Joe.

  3. Joe Loveland says:

    The Flint (Michigan) Journal took notice of this:

    “…I would like to offer conservatives across the nation a little advice: Stop trying to be funny.

    Just stop. It isn’t working. When you try to joke about poverty, gays, sexuality and so forth it always falls flat. People get mad and you look silly. So why do it? Just accept that conservatives in general have a tin ear when it comes to humor and move on.

    Last week in Minnesota, state Rep. Mary Franson repeated an anonymous conservative attempt at humor that’s been making the rounds on the Interwebs.

    Franson said….

    Yeah, she said that. Now, it’s not exactly news that conservatives despise poor people. But comparing them to animals? That ain’t funny, Mary.

    Why am I not surprised that you thought it was?

    1. Jeremy Powers says:

      Generally good advice for conservatives to stop trying to be funny. Making racists and homophobic jokes never were really funny and even less so these days. I love when TV talk shows bring on Dennis Miller as a conservative comedian. The guy never was really funny, except for his stint on the SNL news andthat’s written by the whole cast; not him. Since then total crickets.

  4. I see a picture of 3 little ‘animals’ on her desk. Maybe, as an experiment, she should try feeding them on $1.05 per meal for a week or so. Maybe they would show a little less dependence on her. Amazing!

  5. Jim Leinfelder says:

    Rep. Franson asserts in the Strib Hotdish Politics item you reference, Joe, that she is, in fact, the aggrieved victim here, not the vulnerable people she mocked in that scripted video she produced.

    1. PM says:

      Yeah, that is weird. It used to be that Republicans mocked people who liked to play the victim card, now they tend to be at the front of the line to assume that role. Why is that?

    2. Jeremy Powers says:

      Victimhood is always in the eye of the beholder. Steve Sviggum is claiming the same thing in that he has no conflict of interest where everyone else seems to see it plain as day. But lots of that fits with the unofficial conservative mantra: “Rights are for those people who agree with me.”

  6. john sherman says:

    I’ve noticed that all it takes for somebody to go from being the salt of the earth, backbone of America, real hero to lazy slug, relief hound deadbeat is for his or her boss to move the job overseas.

  7. Newt says:

    Few people here are sophisticated to grasp Rep. Franson’s point: Which is to bring attention through hyperbole the dependency caused by handouts. We’re smart enough to recognize in wildlife, but blind not to see it in the human condition.

    But I get it. It’s mindless and fun to corrupt what really was being communicated here. Touche.

    1. PM says:

      Actually, I sort of agree with Newt, here–a common theme among Republicans and Tea Partier’s is a fear of being dragged down by freeloaders–those people who are dependent on government handouts.

      who are “those people”? illegal immigrants, single women who want someone else to pay for their birth control, young college students (who might want the government to forgive their college loans), people who are underwater on their mortgage who want the taxpayers to cover the difference, auto workers who want the government to bail out their company and preserve their jobs, etc.

      Who are NOT “those people”? Older americans who get government handouts like social security, medicare, subsidised transportation (lets spend on roads!) and a whole host of middle class handouts via the tax system, etc. Because they deserve those government handouts! Because they are real Americans!

      Jonathan chait says it better than i do:

      This puts Newt and franson in the proper context, I think.

    2. Joe Loveland says:

      Re: “Dependence caused by handouts.”

      Yes, if the government handed me all the money I needed to live a cushy life, I could be susceptible to becoming dependent.

      But how about we deal in reality? We’re talking about a buck per meal per person. Nobody is going to reject a higher paying job to hold onto that buck per meal.

      1. PM says:

        Reality? come on, what makes you think we are talking reality here? this is resentment, pure and simple.

      2. Joe Loveland says:

        Clarification: I was directing that comment about reality to my friend Newt, not you PM.

  8. Joe Loveland says:

    Since this story broke, Representative Franson has apparently gotten threats and calls to resign.

    Physical threats and intimidation are obviously much worse than Rep. Franson’s original comments. Disgusting.

    And Rep. Franson shouldn’t resign. I just want her to think before she speaks, that’s all. Her constituents can judge her entire body of work seven months from now at the ballot box.

    Everything is so out of proportion these days. This is worth discussing, but we all need to keep things in perspective.

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