Benjamin Franklin, reached from beyond the grave for a comment about being used by Tim Eyman in his excuse for throwing a mass gathering over the weekend, responded by silently weeping.
Basically, Eyman said, Benjamin Franklin made him do it. burakpekakcan / Getty Images

Tim Eyman held a campaign event over the weekend that sounded to me like a great way to spread coronavirus around. I always thought of him as someone who's gleeful about cutting rich people's taxes and fucking over poor people, but I guess he also hates elderly and sick people. Even the rich ones.

When I read the invitation to Eyman's party—in which he said he hoped he would get 251 "patriots" together, because that would break Governor Inslee's pandemic-fighting rule against groups of 250 or more—I was stunned by his callousness and selfishness and wanted to know what the hell he was thinking. I tried to get ahold of him, and I also tried to get ahold of party host Shannon Williams, but neither of them got back to me, so I based my reporting on the publicly available information about the party on Facebook.

Last night, Eyman got back to me. He texted me a very long statement that basically said Benjamin Franklin made him do it.

Here's exactly what he said.

Hi Christopher

I talked about this at yesterday’s event and it was very well received.

Here’s the thing: when we were doing our local initiatives to let the voters decide on red-light ticketing cameras — the voters sided with us every time. The government always said it was about safety, but voters recognized it was also a loss of their liberty.

During those campaigns, I often cited the famous quote by Benjamin Franklin: "Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety."

The First Amendment guarantees the citizenry the right to peaceably assemble. I am very concerned that during situations like this or 9/11 or other fear-intensive events that the government infringes on basic constitutional rights without sufficient questioning. And when that happens, I've seen the media is often silent or even complicit. It's important that when the government blatantly infringes on basic constitutional rights, there needs to be people with the courage to question it, challenge it, debate it. Jay Inslee did not "suggest" the suspension of the 1st amendment, he ordered it. That is deeply disturbing to me.

Nothing wrong with the government saying — we strongly urge citizens to do the following — that's fine.

But using the full weight and authority and power of the government to order the end of political discourse, the suspension of worship, these are basic rights that do not need to be and should not be sacrificed without greater discussion and debate. I firmly believe we can have a society that values both safety and liberty but only if you elect people who are committed to both.

Couple things:

1. This issue is a liiiiitle bit different than red-light cameras, don't you think?

2. So you're saying you're the one committed to "safety"? You, the one who wants "greater discussion and debate," more process, more time to stop and chat and think on all this, even while the number of cases doubles every week? Ohhh-kaaaay.

3. Jay Inslee did not "order" the "suspension of the 1st amendment." Nor did he "order the end of political discourse." He is an elected leader trying to prevent thousands or hundreds of thousands of deaths by telling people not to gather. He didn't say no one's allowed to criticize him and no one's allowed to worship imaginary gods. Pray all you want, man.

4. Isn't something missing here, Tim? Where's the explanation of why the fuck you threw this party? You can "question" Jay Inslee all you want, and blame the media while you're at it, in lots of different ways. You could do it on Facebook, you could do it on Twitter, you could do it on the radio, you could do it on TV. Instead, you begged people to gather together for a meet-and-greet while an unprecedented virus transmitted through human contact is tearing apart the fabric of society.

* * *

Since Eyman didn't answer the basic question of why he threw the party and whether he was going to cut this shit out, I wrote back and asked: "Are you planning to stop having gatherings like this?"

Eyman replied: "Like everyone else, I'm continuing to assess the situation and will continue to highlight the important points above."

Ah yes, like how elderly people dying in droves are the exact same thing as being ticketed when you run a red light.

I pressed on: "Do you regret ignoring the advice of Island County public health officials from Friday?"

Eyman responded: "I believe all citizens—including myself—are scrambling to keep track of the federal, state, and local government's can's and cannot's. They keep changing on an almost hourly basis. Anytime so many governments are mandating so many constantly evolving restrictions, citizens need to be especially vigilant so the government doesn't make a bad situation worse."

Well, let's see, lots of us are scrambling to keep track of the rules but certain others of us are explicitly setting out to break those rules, no matter the fatal consequences to the sick and elderly. I'm thinking particularly of selfish asshole Shannon Williams, who threw the party, and delusional fuck-face Tim Eyman, who literally thinks that Washington State voters are going to elect an unsuccessful shoplifter as their next governor because he's more committed to "safety and liberty" than Inslee.

Eyman also sent me this image, proving, I guess, that Inslee has outlawed the Constitution or whatever?


But because Eyman did respond to me—even though he danced around all my questions—I have removed the contact information that was publicly available about the party, including Shannon Williams's email address, from my previous post.