It's no secret that the president has a penchant for off-color jokes. But Donald Trump can even take them too far with people in his own inner circle, it seems, including his own vice president. The New Yorker reports that, according to a campaign staff member, Trump once joked that Mike Pence "wants to hang" gay people.
According to a source who was a member of Trump's campaign, the president joked about Pence's conservatism and religion, occasionally asking people who'd been by the VP's office,
Did Mike make you pray?”
It gets worse. The unnamed staff member told the magazine that Trump, when on the topic of gay rights, gestured towards Pence and said,
Don’t ask that guy — he wants to hang them all!
There's that wise saying that whatever someone says about another person says more about the former than it does about the latter. In this case, there's so much implicated in both that they bear a bit of unpacking.
Of course, it's all hearsay at this point until someone can provide evidence one way or another, and a timeframe for these comments was not given. Elite Daily reached out to the White House for comment but has not received a response at the time of publication.
First of all, let's dive in to what the comment says about Mike Pence. It's not news that Pence has acted against the rights of LGBTQ+ people in many ways over the years. Many people have interpreted Pence's 2000 campaign website to indicate his support for conversion therapy, though his intended meaning on this remains unclear, even if the language seems to point towards conditionally revoking federal aid for HIV/AIDS patients. So it's not beyond the realm of possibility that what Trump reportedly claimed was on some level representative of how Pence felt towards gay people, though perhaps not in such strong of terms.
If there's any shred of truth to what the staffer claims, the implications are appalling. (This is my opinion.) If Trump's was a campaign in which jokes like this would fly, that's troubling in and of itself.
We're assuming here that Trump's alleged comment was a joke of exaggeration, and we're taking it as such. But even if Pence doesn't really feel or think this about LGBTQ+ people, the joke probably still came from somewhere, presumably a history of Pence's antagonism towards that group. But let's move on and assume that Trump was just being bombastic and take it at face value: a pure (if bad) joke.
We will now attempt to clarify why Trump's joke was a problem: JOKES ABOUT KILLING LARGE GROUPS OF PEOPLE BASED ON THEIR IDENTITIES AREN'T OKAY. Full stop.
If true, it really wouldn't matter if Trump's joke had any basis in reality. The fact that Trump would think that what amounts to a homosexual cleansing is a laughing matter would be its own problem. What would that tell us about how the president himself feels about gay people? I shudder to imagine.
The disproportionate suffering of LGBTQ+ people is not up for speculation or opining. They are already being killed, and a more likely to be targets of hate crimes than any other minority; queer teens are victims of violence and suicide at a rate incomparable to their peers. What's not up for debate is the fact that Pence has voted numerous times to remove protections for LGBTQ+ individuals, or that Trump stayed all but silent during Pride month this year.
So if there's any veracity to the staffer's claim, and Trump did in fact make a joke about hanging gay people, we have a president who jokes about not just p*ssy grabbing, but also the murder of gay people.
It's worth noting that, per the New Yorker, Trump apparently gives Pence a hard time about his views on homosexuality. Maybe he's an ally in disguise, some might say, but if so, it's a very, very good disguise. And call me uptight, but last time I checked, allies don't joke about killing the people they are allied with.
For the sake of the wellbeing of LGBTQ+ people, we're really hoping it was all just a misunderstanding.