A right-wing pundit who previously called for “eradicating” transgender identity from public life has called for drag queens and attendees of Pride parades to be arrested for violating public indecency laws.
Michael Knowles, of the conservative publication The Daily Wire, who hosts his own self-titled YouTube podcast, made the comments while attempting to defend conservative U.S. Rep. Lauren Boebert (R-Colo.), a darling of the far-right, from accusations of having groped her date during a performance of the Beetlejuice musical at Denver’s Buell Theatre on September 10.
Boebert made headlines after a video of her being escorted out of the theater went viral, allegedly for engaging in “disruptive behavior.”
That behavior included vaping, singing along with the show, and taking flash photos during the performance, according to the Denver Post. Boebert initially balked at being asked to leave, reportedly asking theater staff, “Do you know who I am?” and threatening to contact the mayor and complain about her treatment.
A second video later emerged of Boebert vaping in the theater, contradicting denials from her campaign manager, according to Them. A third video emerged of Boebert and her date groping each other, with her fondling his crotch and him grabbing her breasts.
Boebert later issued two subsequent apologies, declining to admit to any specific behavior, but pinning part of the blame on her recent divorce from her husband of 18 years.
In the first, she admitted to falling “short of my values” and calling her behavior “unacceptable.” In the second, during an interview with the far-right One America News Network, she called her behavior “maybe overtly animated,” adding, “I was a little too eccentric … I’m on the edge of a lot of things.”
She also told TMZ that she was severing ties with her date — revealed by The Daily Mail as Quinn Gallagher, a registered Democrat who owns a bar in Aspen that has hosted drag shows — joking that she “learned to check party affiliations before you go on a date.” (While she claims the encounter with Gallagher was a first date, The Daily Mail claims the two had been dating for months before the groping incident.)
Critics of Boebert accused her of violating Colorado’s public indecency laws, which can include lewdly fondling or caressing another individual in public or a place where others might view such behavior.
Such behavior — though difficult to prove in court — could potentially land a person with a sentence of up to 10 days in jail or up to $300 in fines, in addition to probation, community service, or mandatory counseling, reports Newsweek.
A spokesperson for the Denver District Attorney’s Office later told the media that there are no plans to charge Boebert with violating the state’s public indecency laws.
Critics of the congresswoman, known for her inflammatory rhetoric and socially conservative views, also accused her of hypocrisy, pointing to past social media posts attacking the LGBTQ community and rants denouncing drag performances.
Knowles attempted to defend Boebert’s behavior on Monday’s episode of his podcast, claiming that liberals find such behavior “empowering” and indicating that Boebert was worthy of forgiveness because she’s a fellow ideological conservative.
Knowles continued his defense of Boebert on Tuesday’s edition of The Michael Knowles Show, seeking to paint Boebert as a victim by claiming she was being threatened with prosecution — although he didn’t specify who was making such threats.
“I’m all for enforcing public indecency statutes,” he said, while acknowledging Boebert likely wouldn’t face charges. “But I have noticed that there are a lot of Republican counties in Colorado. Denver is very blue, but there’s a lot of Republican counties. And those Republican counties have Republican DAs [district attorneys]. And I’ve noticed a lot of counties in Colorado have drag queen story hour. … And I think that if Colorado, all of a sudden, wants to get serious about prosecuting lewdness in public, public indecency, well, that’s great. Then those Republican DAs should arrest every single one of those drag queen story hour performers.”
He also suggested that enforcement of those indecency laws should extend to other LGBTQ people, reports the left-wing media watchdog Media Matters for America.
“Colorado wants to start getting tough on lewdness, I’m all for it,” Knowles said. “Then all of those Republican DAs should start arresting and prosecuting every one of those attendees at the Pride parades, which are extremely indecent and extremely lewd.”
Knowles continued ranting against drag performances and Pride parades, arguing that such events are “much worse” than Boebert’s behavior in the theater. He called the behavior at those LGBTQ-themed events “perverse and unnatural” and worthy of prosecution.
“[E]ven if your view is, it’s all the same, and there’s no distinction at all between what a normal guy and a girl do in a theater, caught on a hidden camera, and what the drag queens do in the elementary schools and the libraries and what the weirdos do at the Pride parades — if you say it’s all the same, well, that’s fine too,” Knowles said.
“If we’re gonna start prosecuting people for lewdness, then what’s good for the goose is good for the gander,” he added. “What a great way to find a silver lining in a storm cloud of a ginned-up Republican political scandal. Great idea.”
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