April 15 Tax Protesters: Don’t Call Us ’Tea Baggers’!

by Steve Weinstein

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Wednesday April 15, 2009

It all began on CNBC, where a newsman in Chicago proposed an updated version of the Boston Tea Party to protest the Obama Adminstration's bailouts and stimulus plan. "No taxation without representation" was the rallying cry of the original protesters, who dressed as Native Americans and threw British tea overboard in Boston Harbor.

The "tea party" concept spread through the Internet and right-wing talk shows such as Sean Hannity and Fox News, which has become a sort-of sponsor of these rallies. On April 15, thousands are expected to protest in cities across the country.

Only now, the protesters and their organizers are fighting a battle on two fronts: not only against what they see as a government gone wild with giveaways; but ridicule for the double meaning of "tea bagging."

The cheeky Urban Dictionary has expanded its definition of "tea bagger" from "a man that dips his scrotum and testicles into the mouth of another person" to include "a conservative activist who is so ignorant that they protest against tax cuts (that benefit them) by throwing tea into a river."

As any gay man who has ventured into some of our more louche nightspots can testify, the practice is venerated among go-go boys dancing on top of bars and boxes who will dip their family jewels into the welcoming mouth of a generous tipper. (It should be noted that the Urban Dictionary started its definition originally with a male-female scenario, so, as in so many cases of late, there is sexual parity here.)

Proving that she's as hip to the gay underworld as she is to politics (or lesbian life), Rachel Maddow covered this burning topic on her MSNBC program. As seen here, she's using all of her journalistic skills to keep from cracking up.

It's no laughing matter to the protesters or their supporters, however. In their eyes, equating what they're doing with a sleazy gay sexual practice is akin to a swastika-bedecked bar mitzvah celebration.

The Business & Media Institute, which bills itself as "advancing the culture of free enterprise in America," decries the association. Jeff Poor cites another MSNBC commenter, David Shuster, filling in for Keith Olbermann on April 13.

"For most Americans, Wednesday, April 15th will be Tax Day," Shuster said. "It's going to be teabagging day for the right-wing and they're going nuts for it. Thousands of them whipped out the festivities early this past weekend, and while the parties are officially toothless, the teabaggers are full-throated about their goals."

Ouch! Shuster continued the string of puns: "They want to give President Obama a strong tongue-lashing and lick government spending."

Over on Free Republic, the comments were predictable over Shuster's monologue: outrage and disgust.

"I bet his scuzzy queer audience just about jizzed themselves over it," one commenter said.

"Typical of their type, they take a normal everyday term, assign some disgusting meaning to it and then try to infer that we are the ones that are somehow degenerates and piss themselves laughing about it," wrote another. "Childish potty humor, at best."

Over at the Democratic Underground, the response was equally predictable. Several threads involved the John Waters film "Pecker," which first brought the term "tea bagger" to the general public. One commenter proposed a drinking game: Every time a Fox news reader mentioned "tea bagger" or "tea bagging." Guaranteed to help ease the stress of April 15, since the players would be drunk in no time.

Meanwhile, on our side, there are protests planned to call attention to the way LGBT Americans are denied tax advantages because we can't formalize our relationships. Go here to find out where you can particpate.

And just for the record, Anderson Cooper has jumped into the fray. On his "Anderson Cooper 360 program" on Tuesday, in response to a comment that Republicans were "searching for their voice" after two electoral losses, Cooper quipped, "It's hard to talk when you're tea-bagging."

Steve Weinstein has been a regular correspondent for the International Herald Tribune, the Advocate, the Village Voice and Out. He has been covering the AIDS crisis since the early '80s, when he began his career. He is the author of "The Q Guide to Fire Island" (Alyson, 2007).