Politicians and social media have opened up a new low in the art of political discourse.
Late Thursday night and early Friday morning, Dallas Republican state Representative Jason Villalba took to Twitter — something he does often with inconsistent results — to say that he plans to push for an end to nonreligious vaccine exemptions. He used some rather colorful language in doing so.
So first, it's worth knowing that @RepStickland is Tea Party back-bencher Jonathan Stickland. Strickland objected after Villalba introduced a bill in 2015 that would've forced parents without a legitimate religious or medical excuse to get their kids vaccinated.
Stickland believes that parents should be able to forego their kids' shots, and then send those kids to school, no questions asked. He did briefly jump into the fray on Friday, telling Villalba that "this is about liberty and nothing else is relevant."
Villalba got into trouble for the other part of his tweet, the thing about "playboy bunnies."
Anyone steeped in pop culture would infer the reference in Villalba's tweet was 1994 Playboy Playmate of the Year and former host of MTV's Singled Out, Jenny McCarthy, an outspoken supporter of the anti-vaccine movement.
But Jackie Schlegel the director Texans for Vaccine Choice, didn't see it that way.
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"The bunnies tweet most likely references the thousands of mothers who are members of Texans for Vaccine Choice. Another possibility is the Rep. Villalba could be directing his comments toward the all female leadership board of the PAC. This much is certain: 'Bunnies' being plural is clearly referencing a group of females who believe in parental rights," Schlegal said in a statement.
Setting aside the fact that the word "female" is an adjective and not a noun, Villalba was clearly talking about McCarthy, as he repeatedly insisted over the weekend.
Texas' next legislative session convenes on Jan. 10. Get ready to hear a lot more about this fight.