Sep 9, 2010 11:58 AM by KRTV (Great Falls)

Ravndal responds to Big Sky Tea Party controversy

UPDATE, Thursday afternoon: We spoke with John Adams, who Ravndal references in his statement below, and Adams stated that he did indeed interview Ravndal on Friday. He also sent us this statement:

Tim Ravndal's implication that I did not interview him or try to contact him is false. I have three pages of notes from my interview with him Friday afternoon. I have no idea what "half truths" he's referring to, or what details my story was lacking. I also don't know what "third party comments" he's referring to. I quoted his facebook page, and him, verbatim. I don't know how much more straightforward it could have been.

(Thursday morning) Tim Ravndal, who lost his position as president of the Big Sky Tea Party Association after posting controversial comments on Facebook, is responding to the firestorm that has erupted over the issue.

The Facebook comments appear to be referring to the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard in Wyoming in 1998. Many believe that Shepard was killed because he was gay, and the incident became a rallying point for many in the gay community and their families and friends.

In a press release sent by Ravndal early Thursday, he states: "Tim would like to first and foremost send his apologies for the misconception of facts to the family and friends of Mathew Shepherd. The implications that Tim condoned Mathew’s terrible ordeal years ago is utterly false and frankly embarrassing to see the media purporting this without having the facts."

The controversial comments surfaced right after he took office within the Tea Party. Ravndal and another Facebook user engaged in a discussion about homosexuality:

Tim Ravndal: “Marriage is between a man and a woman period! By giving rights to those otherwise would be a violation of the constitution and my own rights”
Keith Baker: “How dare you exercise your First Amendment Rights?”
Dennis Scranton: “I think fruits are decorative. Hang up where they can be seen and appreciated. Call Wyoming for display instructions.”
Tim Ravndal: “@Kieth, OOPS I forgot this ain't America no more! @ Dennis, Where can I get that Wyoming printed instruction manual?”
Dennis Scranton: “Should be able to get info Gazette archives. Maybe even an illustration. Go back a bit over ten years.”

After Ravndal's comments got picked up by national blogs and local news outlets, he issued an apology on Facebook which has since drawn hundreds of responses: "In sharing news about ACLU suing Montana on the gay marriage issue, I made a mistake and commented on a post that implied that I condone violence against another human being. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Those that know me understand and that is all that matters."

After the comments surfaced, the Big Sky Tea Party Association Board of Directors voted to remove Ravndal from leadership.

Here is the full text of Ravdnal's statement:

It has been reported by a variety of media sources about the face book exchange and the consequent removal of Tim Ravndal from the office of President of the Big Sky Tea Party Association.

It is important to recognize that the story that started on face book continued with a breaking story in the Great Falls Tribune. The Great Falls Tribune reporter John went forward with his story without all the details. Furthermore, John appeared only interested in the third party comments. Upon the inability to get the desired results, John went with part of the truth, breaking the news to the people of Montana. Hence, we have a story based on a foundation built with only part of the truth.

Tim respectfully declined to speak to the media until after having an opportunity to hear from the Board and members of Big Sky Tea Party Association who he proudly served. Since the story broke, many blogs, and news media sources posted stories based on the same partial information in the tribune article. The frenzy was also sparked by the social media threads from face book. Up until the meeting with Big Sky Tea Party Association last night, no media source had made contact with Tim in getting his side of this story.

Up to and including the story that was on the Television last night and the reporting in the Independent Record today we continue to see only half the story. All the conclusions on this matter have been based on partial truths and political correctness. The consequent headlines and associated stories speak for themselves.

Tim would like to first and foremost send his apologies for the misconception of facts to the family and friends of Mathew Shepherd. The implications that Tim condoned Mathew’s terrible ordeal years ago is utterly false and frankly embarrassing to see the media purporting this without having the facts.

The stereotyping of any and all representatives of the tea party movement has become standard operating procedure by the liberal media across America and most if not all liberal blogs. Tim states that he is aware that he has been in this spotlight for many years, as he has stood in front of the world demanding the rights of the people be protected.

In an attempt to provide an apology to those that were harmed by this ordeal, Tim has received over 600 and counting threats from the very same people that are condemning the dialogue found on face book. It is again important to know that the information that everyone is basing their conclusions on is only partially there.

Beginning with the face book thread, there is a time lapse between postings. There is a period of time when Tim left face book after he made the request for a manual in writing to understand what was being talked about. Asking for a display manual based at this point in the thread is hardly implicative of condoning torture or murder.

Upon return to the thread some time later, that is when the discriminating post made by a third individual made the connection to the Wyoming tragedy. It is also important to note, the media nor most people have ever seen this derogatory comment.

I have been given ownership of all comments, and rightfully so, as they are on my personal face book account. Unfortunately, the ownership of these comments has portrayed me as a murderous bigot. Most everyone has discarded the pesky little facts and have bypassed the jury and gone straight to the executioner.

The media has continued to short run the story without facts. The public is continuing to pass judgment based on half the story. Tim was notified today by another party that they have been getting messages on their private number from Montana media sources requesting an interview. With as notorious as this trashing has made Tim and his friends, it is amazing the same Great Falls Tribune that broke the story cannot seem to find his number.

As Tim continues to seek a fair shake in this kangaroo court being held, he hopes that those that are responsible will do what is right. Everyone that has passed judgment without giving the courtesy of seeking out the facts shows how political correctness and social justice continues to prevail over honesty and integrity.

This too shall pass, and in the end, I will walk down the street with my head held high facing tyranny wherever it is exposed. Our liberty and freedom in this country and the sacrifices that have been made in the name of our republic must be defended.

Our Montana Constitution protects marriage between a man and a woman. Until the political machine changes that basic right, I will continue to stand in defending our Constitution and this provision.

Tim Ravndal

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