Welcome to Big Time Small-Time Dicks, a regular column on The Slot that explores local politicians, small-town scandals and everything else making life miserable on a local level. Know a small time person who is a big time dick we should feature? Email us.
Virginia State Senator William M. Stanley Jr. is claiming that he feels personally endangered by a Facebook message promising, “I’m going to be your worst nightmare, you little bastard.” The message was from Andy Parker, who has become a gun control activist after his daughter Alison, a reporter for WDBJ, was murdered on-air in August.
After losing his daughter, Parker came to the conclusion that perhaps what we need is to make it slightly harder for people to buy guns. He and his wife Barbara wrote an editorial for the Washington Post pledging to do “whatever it takes” to end gun violence, by which they primarily mean calling for expanded background checks.
Parker has also been personally needling a number of pro-gun state senators on Facebook, as the Washington Post reported Thursday. That includes Stanley, who has decided that a message calling him a “bastard” calls for, yes, you guessed it: more guns. From the WaPo:
“I take this very seriously as a threat against the safety of my family,” said Stanley, who has received an A rating from the National Rifle Association. He said he contacted Capitol Police and the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office, and picked up applications for concealed handgun permits for himself and his wife because of the message.
“We are proud firearms owners, but I never felt the need for a concealed-carry permit until now,” Stanley said.
Parker confirmed that he sent the message but said the intended threat was only political.
“I don’t own a gun,” Parker said. “I have a pellet gun, that’s it. . . . If he thinks I’m going to be a threat to him other than a political threat, that is just mind-boggling.”
Virginia TV station WSLS also reports that Parker sent Stanley another message threatening to “beat his ass” earlier this week:
“You’re finest moment, you sorry little coward. You didn’t even have the decency to reach out and offer a lame condolence after my daughter Alison Bailey was murdered in your district. When you see me again, you best walk the other way lest I beat your little a%$ with my bare hands.”
That’s certainly not nice, nor is it very smart. Parker’s frustration is understandable, however. Less so is Stanley’s determination to literally bring a gun to a (fake, Facebook-only) fistfight. The Senator told the Post that Parker’s grief had made him “dangerous.” Parker responded: “If I wanted to threaten him personally, the last thing I would do is post it on his Facebook page.”
Anyway, by acting as though he himself feels physically endangered, Stanley won’t have to have any type of conversation about gun control or background checks, nor will he risk endangering a sweet and unbroken lifelong romance with the NRA. God bless, sir. That is an act of true Big Time Small-Time Dickery.
Update, 1:00 p.m.: Everytown for Gun Safety, an advocacy group that Andy Parker is now working with, sent Jezebel a statement on his behalf regarding his Facebook conduct:
In my grief over the murder of my daughter and my anger over a political system that allows incidents like that to continue, I spoke regrettably. I apologize for my words, but make no mistake, I will continue to seek justice and change as a father in memory of my daughter.
Update, 4:45 p.m.: An alert reader points out that Senator Stanley once said anyone who went to his listed address to see if he actually lived in his Senate district would get “a face full of my Glock.” Cool!
Correction: An earlier version of this story misidentified Everytown as a public relations agency. It’s a gun control advocacy group. I regret the error.
Screengrab via YouTube/WSLS 10. Big Time Small Time Dicks logo by staff male Bobby Finger