Bismarck lawmaker shares Facebook post comparing government programs to prison rape
BISMARCK — A Bismarck lawmaker has drawn criticism for a Facebook post making light of a comparison between government programs and a prison rape stereotype.
Rep. Rick Becker, R-Bismarck, shared a meme to his campaign's Facebook page which depicts two pairs of feet in a shower — one labeled "Citizen" in front of another labeled "Government" — and a bar of soap stamped "free stuff."
"OMG! HAHAHAHAHA," Becker wrote in the post Saturday morning.
Comments on Becker's post called for his resignation and condemned the rape comparison.
Becker said the post is "kind of an overarching view of government" and federal programs perceived to be "free."
When asked if the post is appropriate, the third-term legislator said "it depends what's appropriate."
"I'm bringing about a meme which uses humor to depict how taking goods, jumping to programs from the federal government is not always a good idea. That's the gist of it," Becker said. "People can read and say, 'Oh, my gosh, he's a proponent of rape.' How ridiculous."
After Becker's post, his re-election campaign raised more than $500 in online donations. Becker was re-elected in 2018 to represent Bismarck's District 7.
House Majority Leader Chet Pollert, R-Carrington, said Becker's post doesn't align with Republican values, but he has freedom of speech.
"Rick Becker exercised his freedom of speech. That is up to him. I didn't agree with it, but that's up to him," Pollert said Monday.
The North Dakota Democratic-NPL Party condemned Becker's "repulsive" post Monday.
“Representative Becker’s Facebook post is offensive to victims of sexual assault and violence and beneath the office he holds," Dem-NPL chair Warren Larson said in a statement.
"His refusal to apologize and the fact that he is fundraising off this controversy shows his indifference to the pain sexual assault victims face every day.”
Becker said the photo doesn't necessarily indicate prison rape: "We don't know if it's a prison. It's a communal shower. People see something and they see what they want to see."
He also said he won't remove the post despite calls to do so from "the uber politically correct police trying to snuff free speech," "social justice warriors" and Facebook users "addicted to outrage."
Becker isn't the first North Dakota lawmaker to see criticism for social media comments in recent years.
An online petition in 2018 sought removal of former Rep. Roscoe Streyle, R-Minot, for his use of online insults, including "libtard," on Twitter.
In 2015 after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down banning same-sex marriage, Rep. Dwight Kiefert, R-Valley City, drew attention for his Facebook post calling the ruling a "great victory for the METALLY (sic) ILL!!!!!"