Lowering the Political Bar in Montana: How Low Will You Go, Pete?

by William Skink

Missoula elitist Pete Talbot wants to know why I have remained silent on the idiocy of Greg Strandberg and the delusions of Mark Tokarski. He said this after going on a late night tirade in which he eloquently referred to Standberg as a “stupid fuck” and offered a list of disorders he thinks plagues Tokarski. When I expressed doubt that Pete has the qualifications to diagnose mental health disorders, this was his reply:

Do you read Tokarski’s stuff, Skink? You don’t need a Ph.d to see that he’s delusional.

But let’s take a look at an earlier comment of yours concerning my lack of intervention in a previous flame war: “but I interpret silence as complicity.” Your silence on delusional Tokarski and idiot Strandberg is deafening.

I don’t take this kind of stuff lightly. People suffering from legitimate delusions can be a danger to themselves and others. I know this intimately because I’ve been physically assaulted and had my family threatened by people suffering from delusions. The mentally ill woman who still sends me letters to my home knows my kids names and has threatened to take them after I go to prison for raping her. She also thinks my father is Chuck Norris, so yeah, clearly delusional.

I have people fixated on me because of the work I did at the shelter. During that time I started realizing something about Missoula: image is more important than substance.

Protecting Missoula’s image became very important last year when Jon Krakauer’s book about sexual assault in Missoula hit the shelves. One of Missoula’s cultural elitists, Andy Smetanka, seemed more upset about the impact on Missoula’s image than he was about the traumatizing experiences of women seeking justice for being raped:

Smetanka doesn’t know what’s in the book, but he knows Krakauer has tapped prepositional phrases for other titles. “Into the Wild.” “Into Thin Air.” “Under the Banner of Heaven.”

Why not one for Missoula? (See related interview with Krakauer.)

“I wanted to come up with something that was an artful protest against the name of the book, but it ended up being a little more ambiguous,” Smetanka said.

In fact, the depiction by him and Greg Twigg appears to reflect some community members’ reaction to the rape reports, as well as the later protest against the title.

In the poster, Smetanka blocked out letters in Krakauer’s name so the poster says “Our Missoula” instead of “Jon Krakauer” and “Missoula: Rape and the Justice System in a College Town.”

Early on, some UM officials and Grizzlies boosters similarly tried to block out news the campus had a rape problem. Former UM vice president Jim Foley, for instance, protested the media’s use of the term “gang rape” to describe a report a UM student made that she’d been assaulted by four UM Grizzlies football players.

Foley since left the university, and current UM president Royce Engstrom fired former football coach Robin Pflugrad and athletic director Jim O’Day.

The poster also reflects the reaction many people had to the book’s title. Why not call it Boulder, where Krakauer is based?

“Missoulians are kind of wonderfully defensive and touchy about our image,” Smetanka said.

One of the University’s biggest mistakes was focusing primarily on mitigating the damage to the image of the University instead of focusing on how to keep students from being raped by collegiate sexual predators. Then the book came out and Missoula was forced to deal with the ugly reality of women’s experiences with sexual assault and the extra trauma stemming from the problems in our criminal justice system. Unlike Smetanka, I don’t think it’s wonderful that people in our community got so defensive and touchy about Missoula’s image.

While Missoula likes to promote itself as a progressive utopia, the rest of the state deals with negative stereotypes, like being gun-toting hicks driving big trucks with Hippie-Hater stickers. Montana also has a reputation for harboring conspiracy wackos, thanks largely to the Unabomber’s choice to reside in Lincoln, Montana. A recent piece of satire from The Onion perpetuates this image.  I should also mention that I wouldn’t have even seen this piece if it wasn’t for Pete Talbot using it to ridicule Tokarski. From the link:

LIBBY, MT—Ken Hausch, a Libby-area Luddite separatist and conspiracy theorist, announced Monday that his much-anticipated manifesto, My Lonely Battle Against The Mind-Control Slavery Of The Illuminati And Its Footmen In The CIA, KGB, U.N., Vatican, NASA, IRS, AT&T, Federal Reserve, Disney, The Order Of Skull & Bones, And The Rosicrucians, is “coming along fine” and should be completed by fall of this year.

The workspace of Ken Hausch (inset), who is “really pleased” with how his manifesto is turning out.

“So far, so good,” the unemployed, one-time University of Washington physics graduate student said. “Right now, I’ve got about 14,600 pretty solid pages in the can, with probably fewer than 5,000 to go. Once that’s done, it’ll just be a matter of double-checking the facts, tightening up the writing and making sure the whole thing’s got a nice, cohesive flow.”

Hilarious, right? But I wonder how people in Libby feel about this depiction? Pete seems to know a lot of people around Montana, so maybe he can do some research and write up a post about whether or not this rural Montana town that was poisoned by W.R. Grace and Company appreciates being the butt of this mocking piece of Onion satire.

Now, I’m not a mental health professional, so I won’t speculate on the mental health status of Mark Tokarski, but if he is mentally ill, as Pete Talbot asserts, then making fun of him is pretty low. And perpetuating negative Montana stereotypes by using a rural Montana town that suffered so greatly, as Libby has, is even lower.

But that’s what I’ve come to expect from Democrat partisans who try to punish those who tarnish the image of Montana Democrats with substantive criticism, even if it means NOT promoting posts about local homeless issues. I will never forget this comment from Talbot:

You have a great capacity for alienating potential allies, Skink. I’ve thought about linking to your well-written posts on homelessness and mental illness, even advancing your agenda when I have the opportunity. After all your caustic posts on Don, me and Intelligent Discontent, though, I’m disinclined to do so.

With sentiments like this thrown my direction, I’m becoming increasingly dubious about voting in this election cycle. Instead of constant Zinke/Gianforte attacks, Democrats might want to consider giving us better reasons to vote for them. If their only reason is Republicans are terrible, then I’m staying home on election day.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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12 Responses to Lowering the Political Bar in Montana: How Low Will You Go, Pete?

  1. steve kelly says:

    This is what the two-party system produces: low voter turnout. Many citizens, unable to perceive differences between candidates on the main issues of the day, elect not to vote.

    If one of the typically two candidates is dominating the race — as incumbents in jerrymandered districts tend to do — many people feel that their vote will not make a difference in the outcome of the election.

    The core institutional element used to explain the endurance of the two-party system is single-member district representation. When compared to a proportional representation system where parties fill a slate of offices based on the proportion of the total vote each party receives in a district, state, or country. In a system of proportional representation, even a minor party can win at least some seats. Since votes for a minor party are not perceived as “wasted,” some parties are willing to take positions outside the ideological middle – offering meaningful choices to voters who may prefer something other than Coke or Pepsi.

    The system breeds the behavior you are describing.

  2. A very nice passive-aggressive attack, Mr. Skink. You said some nasty things about me, but in a way where it doesn’t sound like a direct attack. And, if I defend myself, it only makes me look guilty as charged. Have you been taking lessons from Kailey? That’s his shtick too, along with Pete’s.

    Might I suggest that the passive aggressive insult is a form of moral cowardice, and that you and Pete might have something in common there?

    Anyone wanting to know me better, email me. mpt at centurylink dot net. We can exchange views, perhaps even have a phone conversation. Since I am openly accused,I feel a right to open my life and views to anyone wanting to know more. If you think you have a gauge on me because you find my beliefs and writings at odds with your belief system, you don’t need anything more than a mirror. If you think you can corner me, intimidate me, make me back down on anything, you had better do it with evidence. Mere beliefs don’t cut it. Religious people base views on faith.

    And you ain’t seen nothing yet. I’ve got some really good stuff in the hopper.

    • not meant to be an attack, Mark, but I certainly can’t control how you interpret information.

    • Oh, you made your point, and I think you know it. You are, after all, a poet, and poets know the word craft better than anyone. But this is the beauty of it too – you get to deny.

    • By the way, Mr. Skink, I have adjusted my opinion of you, and not for the better. I was never sure anyway, but you’ve done some good writing and undergone attack by the usual suspects. You mouthed the words of attack against me by someone whom I have learned to detest, but then backed off in such a manner that the attack was there, but not the responsibility for it. That is both passive-aggressive, and a sign of a moral coward.

      Attack, bring it on! I am ready for it! I’ve taken it from the best. But slink, Skink, and you’re nothing but a Pete.

      • what am I suppose to be attacking? you? why?

      • You repeated the words of a man who is afraid to confront me, distanced yourself form him but allowing them to stand unchallenged, at best saying “I dunno.” At best that is catty, as it contains an active attack delivered in a non-assertive fashion, the definition of passive aggressive. You are then able, once having delivered the attack, to back away and say “I am not responsible.”

        That’s why I said it was so well done, because if I defend myself, I look bad. That’s how the passive-aggressive game is played. As I told my kids in their growing-up years, those are called “sidewinders. Say what you mean and mean what you say.”

        • obviously I can’t just actually mean what I say, that I am not one to pass judgement on your mental status. it is your choice to be in chapel perilous, Mark. I’m trying to not judge you for the choice, but you can be a really obnoxious asshole when you want to be. is that what you wanted?

        • Nothing wrong with that, even true. Is it so hard to say something true? What am I going to do, bite your head off? You said it directly to me, you meant it, it sounds true, and therefore I should look in the mirror, right?

          I just don’t care enough, and that too is honest. There’s nothing to be gained by maintaining cordial relations with people who resent me anyway, and who are not very smart.

          I’ll tell you something about Pete – we did not start out hating one another. We had an exchange at ID, and I did my usual, but not in a nasty way, just factual. I know a lot of stuff, I am afraid, and I brought Operation Gladio into the conversation, and Pete said yeah, he had read about that. You say you cannot judge people fm a distance, but you can. You can read words, tone, demeanor, and posture. Pete was lying, easily seen. In polite society people lie all day long, and had I been polite I would have just ignored it. But I didn’t. I told him he had not read anything about it because if he had, he would have said something before he did. That’s was the moment he banned me. That is when I bcame the asshole, delusional, subject to his childish temper tantrums. I said something true about him.,

          You can and should pass judgment in people’s mental status if you intend to move forward in life, advance in knowedge and wisdom. There are a lot of stupid people, shills, carnival barkers, liars, poseurs, drunks and potheads and meth and crack addicts around. There are a few honest and sincere people who mean what they say, say what they mean. Learning to identify them is part of the game of life, You have to trust your intuition and intelligence. In life outside the Internet they became your “circle of friends.”

  3. Big Swede says:

    REgaurding the rape accusations on college campi.

  4. djinn&tonic says:

    speaking of conspiracy… Obama Administration Makes Stunning Admission: “Seed Money For Al Qaeda Came From Saudi Arabia”

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