While I normally don’t like to write posts about something that is already under discussion in a previous post, I think I should make an exception in light of more recent comments to my post about a sloppily-reported story alleging that “STRAIGHT PRIDE” stickers and T-shirts were being sold by an “Official Tea Party Sponsor.”
To back up, I attended a Tea Party in Lansing, Michigan. I was there for over three hours, and I later found myself surprised to later read accounts circulating the Internet which implied that the Tea Partiers were a bunch of homophobes. These multiple accusations were almost all based on a report by one Todd Heywood (writing in the Michigan Messenger) that a “Tea Party sponsor” had been selling “STRAIGHT PRIDE” stickers and T-shirts. I was there, I never saw any such merchandise, and I said so in my post. Among other things, I said this:

…why is there no photograph showing the vendor wearing this button? If this is supposed to be such a big story — and it certainly is being parroted as such by the left — then why not do the basic documentation?

My post drew the attention of the Editor of the Michigan Messenger, Ed Brayton, who emailed me and pointed out quite courteously that they stood behind the story.

Eric, you know I’m a big fan of your blog. You may not know that I am the editor of the Michigan Messenger. I can assure you that the shirts were being sold there. We do, in fact, have a picture of the guy who sold the shirts with his “official sponsor” button on. We didn’t put it in the story because I never imagined anyone would actually challenge the mere fact that they were being sold (I certainly expected people to disagree with whether it matters). You may not have seen the shirts, but they were there. We have many more pictures of it, and the audio of the interview with the person selling them. I’d be happy to send it to you and you can hear for yourself what he says and why, much to my frustration, we could not make out the first word in the name of his company. Todd Heywood is an excellent reporter who would never make up such a thing, and I certainly would not allow it on the site if we were not 100% certain about it.

Mr. Brayton supplied a picture of the man who Todd Heywood claimed was the vendor selling the items. However, the picture does not show any of his merchandise; it only shows a man wearing a “Tea Party Sponsor” button. There was also an audio recording (said to be with the man in the picture), but that made absolutely no reference to the “STRAIGHT PRIDE” merchandise.
This eventually drew the attention of commenter “Xhristopherus” who says he is the man in the picture, but who says he was not selling “STRAIGHT PRIDE” T-shirts and never has. (At that or any other Tea Party.)
As he is now demanding a retraction from reporter Todd Heywood and Editor Ed Brayton, I thought another post was in order.
The comment Xhristopherus left last night can speak for itself:

I am no graduate of the Columbia School of Journalism, but what I remember from working on my high school paper is that we ask the five W’s
Mr. Heywood is obviously not a professional Journalist as evidenced by his getting the picture of the wrong vendor, interviewing the wrong vendor, then smearing the wrong vendor.
If Mr. Heywood had bothered to introduce himself, and ask about the shirts in particular, then he would have been directed to the vendor selling them.
He did not identify himself as a member of the media, he was trying to hide his recording device,likely thinking he was getting a scoop on a vicious, homophobic “sponsor” of the tea party express.
I thought he was an idiot that night in Lansing for being so rude and secretive. I called him out on it.
Had he done the job to the standards of a high school newspaper he would have found out he interviewed and photographed the wrong guy. He might have got the story he wanted. Then again, maybe not. Guys like that couldn’t find their asses with both hands tied behind their backs.
If I were a liberal I might view this as an opportunity to file a defamation lawsuit.
There have been thousands of stories and blog posts about this t shirt/tea party fiasco, and now my picture is (mistakenly) associated with it.
I call on Mr. Heywood to apologize to me just as publicly as he has attempted to smear me AND retract his sloppily researched story.
I have, to date not sold a single “Straight Pride” Tshirt at a tea party rally.

By any reasonable standard, it is unfair to allege that the man in the picture was selling something he was not selling.
If what the commenter is saying is true, he does deserve an apology for being dragged into this. (And while I never accused him of anything, if my posting the picture is doing harm to his reputation in any way, I would gladly take it down.)

I also call on Ed Brayton, If he is indeed the editor of the Michigan Messenger as he claimed above, to Immediately remove the story and live up to his word of not allowing something on the site that is not 100% accurate.
If that is his standard, then he has missed the mark by a country mile.

I’ve already made my thoughts clear on the merits of the silly “STRAIGHT PRIDE” meme, but that was not the point of my earlier post, and I don’t think it requires further discussion, because there has been no connection made between that and either the Tea Party Express organization or the Tea Party movement in general.
I like the way Xhristopherus puts it, though:

I am a libertarian who supports equal rights for everyone, including gays, and also including their right to call their relationships whatever they choose and have that relationship respected legally by the state, medical facilities, schools etc.
I see no difference in the mocking, in your face iconography of a straight pride t shirt or a gay pride t shirt, irrespective of the motives of the artist of that image which I, and Mr, Heywood can only guess at.

In this country, individuals are free to express themselves in whatever way they want, and mock whatever they want. Precisely why I wore the Che Guevara satire T-shirt the other day. Now, I happen to think that was appropriate attire for a Tea Party, but I wore it — and mocked Che Guevara — as an individual, and I would never presume to be speaking for a movement. Similarly, I have seen anti-abortion T-shirts at the Tea Parties, but I don’t think they are speaking for the Tea Party movement as a whole. Any more than would “END THE DRUG WAR” or “BAN BSL” T-shirts. And if I wore or sold them at Tea Party rallies, so what?
FWIW, I have seen two 911 conspiracy T-shirts at the Tea Parties — which is two more than the number of “STRAIGHT PRIDE” T-shirts I have seen. Should I conclude that Tea Partiers are more likely to be into 911 Trutherism than heterosexual identity politics?
As I said in an email to a friend, this tactic of smearing people because somebody put something on a table at a public event at which they were present (or over which they are said to have had control) is getting out of hand.
I’ve never been comfortable with the whole idea of guilt by association. But bad enough as that is, here it has been done without proof of either guilt or association.