No matter where they’re from or what their positions are, there is one ironclad rule that is never to be violated for any politician: Never make a fool of yourself in public. A political career can survive unpopular policies, crushing electoral defeats, even a scandal or two. But once a person becomes an embarrassment to their own supporters, it’s all over.
Generally speaking, people will overlook a misspoken word here and some proverbial egg on the face there but every now and then, a politician will cross a line from which there’s no return. One politician would learn the hard way that there are just some things in politics you can’t move past…
When the Tea Party movement of the early 2000s began, it represented a fundamental shift in the country’s politics. Beginning largely as a response to President Obama’s electoral success, the movement was composed of a mixture of libertarian, populist, and conservative activism.
Different Kind Of Politician
While many of the ideas expressed by the Tea Party were nothing new, the methods, rhetoric, and political personalities they brought to the table were something new in American politics. Tea Party politicians were distinct from more traditional politicians on the right and the left in that they made a strong effort to appear like “regular joes” and to distance themselves from “elites” and “experts.”…
Not An ‘Insider’
One of those everymen-turned-politicians was a man in his 30’s named Jason Spencer. Far from being a “trained politician,” Spencer had gotten a degree in exercise and sports science before returning to school for a second bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in being a physician’s assistant.
Taking On The Establishment
But while he pursued his studies, he also became an active member of the local Tea Party movement in coastal Georgia. With their backing, he managed to defeat Cecily Hill, the incumbent Republican representative to the Georgia House of Representatives and went on to win the general election in the heavily Republican district as well…
Once in office, he quickly became known for being constantly embroiled in a battle with fellow lawmakers.“I don’t recall we’ve ever had anyone with this much time in office with this much opposition,” said Jim Stein, a board member of the Camden County Republican Party. “He stayed at odds with the folks in Atlanta.”
And it wasn’t just people on the other side of the aisle Spencer was at odds with. When a bill he introduced to block portions of the Affordable Care Act in the state failed, he issued a press release blaming his fellow Republicans for an “eleventh-hour betrayal,” calling them “Benedict Arnolds,” among other things…
Spencer also became famous on a national level in 2016 when he tried to introduce a bill that would have banned Muslim women from wearing religious garments in driver’s license photos or while driving cars. A number of civil rights groups accused him of Islamophobia and, after bipartisan opposition to the bill, he withdrew it.
Thinly Veiled Threat
There was also an incident in 2017 where, during the debate over the removal of Confederate monuments in the state, Spencer wrote a Facebook post where he told an African American attorney and former House colleague that she “might go missing” in a Georgia swamp for opposing his position. While shocking and offensive to some, all of those incidents could be survived. What he did in 2018 could not…
Not What It Seems
In July of 2018, Rep. Spencer appeared on what he thought would be an anti-terrorism video in which an ex-Israeli intelligence Captain named Erran Morad would be teaching him some of his expertise. In reality, the session they filmed was for a satirical comedy show called “Who Is America?”
Who Is America?, a brand new show on Showtime, was the brainchild of British comedian Sacha Baron Cohen. Cohen had a long career in the UK and then the US before exploding in popularity with the Borat movie. His comedy consisted largely of conducting interviews on unwitting people while remaining in character, getting them to say and do embarrassing things…
And that’s exactly what Rep. Spencer did with Cohen, disguised as “Morad.” Before reading on, please take note that the things Spencer said and did are about as offensive as can be. First, he was taught a “technique” to determine if a person wearing a burqa was a normal woman or a terrorist: surreptitiously take a photo from beneath them by using a selfie stick and pretending to be a “Chinese tourist.”
When Morad tells Spencer to give the technique a try a real person in a burqa, he immediately begins spouting nonsense with an affected accent, saying things like “Red dragon? Chopstick?” While that alone would be offensive to many, things got even worse from there…
Prompted For Disaster
Next, Morad taught Spencer how to react if he ever finds himself in the middle of a terrorist kidnapping. The idea was to attract as much immediate attention as possible. “In America, there is one forbidden word. It is the N-word,” Morad said. “Now, I am going to be the terrorist. You have 3 seconds to attract attention. Go!” he said to the representative while pointing a finger gun at him.
Ready And Willing
Without hesitation, Representative Justin Spencer began shouting “n***er” at the top of his lungs, over and over again. After a few seconds, Morad stops him saying “Are you crazy? The N-word is ‘noonie,’ not this word. This word is disgusting.” “Got it.” Spencer replies…
Far Too Far
Next Morad demonstrates how to “use your buttocks to intimidate ISIS,” explaining that, to a member of ISIS, “if your buttocks touch them, it means that they have become a homosexual.” Unbelievably, Rep. Spencer goes along with this training, charging at his “trainer” with his bottom completely exposed, while saying things like “USA, motherf***er.”
After several other segments, the episode ends with Spencer delivering a message directly to ISIS. In it, he threatens the “sandn***ers over in the middle east” saying “we will cut off your d**k” as he pretended to chop a sausage off of a mannequin, took a bite out of it, then proceeded to shove it into the dummy’s mouth…
As you can imagine, the outcry against Spencer for his offensive language and the riotous display was as immediate and near-universal. On the day the episode aired, the uproar on social media was intense and members of Spencer’s own party were calling for him to step down.
Trying To Hold On
Rep. Spencer initially resisted those calls, apologizing for his behavior on the show and acknowledging that it was a “ridiculously ugly episode.” But he defended himself saying “Sacha Baron Cohen and his associates took advantage of my paralyzing fear that my family would be attacked,” adding that the techniques demonstrated were meant to stop “what I believed was an inevitable attack.”…
But regardless of the fact that he’d done it under false pretenses or for reasons of fear, the fact remained that Georgia State Representative Jason Spencer had been racially offensive, exposed his bare bottom, and demonstrated incredibly poor judgment all on camera. That’s just not the sort of thing a politician can come back from.
Within two days of the episode’s airing, Jason Spencer resigned from his position in the Georgia State legislature. The incident had the opposite effect on the success of Who Is America? With the clip receiving millions of views in just a few days and all of the media coverage of the political fallout, the show’s viewership increased dramatically.