Montana Tea Party president removed after alleged Matthew Shepard "joke"

Posted by JD Uy
September 7, 2010 1:33 PM |

Tim Ravndal: "Marriage is between a man and a woman period! By giving rights to those otherwise would be a violation of the constitution and my own rights"

Keith Baker: "How dare you exercise your First Amendment Rights?"

Dennis Scranton: "I think fruits are decorative. Hang up where they can be seen and appreciated. Call Wyoming for display instructions."

Tim Ravndal: "@Kieth, OOPS I forgot this aint(sic) America no more! @ Dennis, Where can I get that Wyoming printed instruction manual?"

Dennis Scranton: "Should be able to get info Gazette archives. Maybe even an illustration. Go back a bit over ten years."

A series of comments that the Great Falls Tribune says were posted in July on the Facebook page of Tim Ravndal, the Big Sky Tea Party Association's president. Many people are reading the third comment about fruits hanging in Wyoming as a tasteless reference to Matthew Shepard. He was a gay college student who died after being beaten and tied to a fence in that state back in 1998. Ravndal told the Tribune that he'd made a mistake and apologized "to anyone I offended," but claimed that he hadn't been "thinking about the tragedy that happened in Wyoming.'' (Great Falls Tribune)

''The discussion in that Facebook conversation is entirely outside the position of the Big Sky Tea Party. Even though Mr. Ravndal was having a personal conversation and made no reference to our group, we felt strongly that swift and decisive action was required as we cannot accept that sort of behavior from within our membership, let alone from an officer of the corporation.... If a person demonstrates bigotry relative to race, sex, ethnicity, etc. they are not welcome in our organization. The Tea Party movement is about standing up for individual freedom for everyone.''

Jim Walker as quoted by the Helena Independent Record regarding the Big Sky Tea Party's decision to remove their president, Tim Ravndal. Some people were offended by what Ravndall had posted on his Facebook page because he seemed to be trying to make a joke about anti-gay violence. (

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