Rage Against His Bowling Shirts

A former moveon.org vol shows up wearing slogans deemed anti-American and is forced to move on from his bowling team and alley

Johnson, who was wearing a shirt on December 8 displaying a cross-looking bald eagle and the words "We Are Watching You," says he could take no more. He walked up to Tunay a few lanes over and told him, "I think that's a sick shirt."

An agitated Tunay followed Johnson back to his seat.

"He stood with his arms folded and said, 'I want you to look at this,'" Johnson said. "I said, 'I'm an Army veteran.' He said, 'You're a veteran and you're ignorant.'"

Ace bowler Jason Tunay in one of his fave tees.
Laura Segall
Ace bowler Jason Tunay in one of his fave tees.

Another bowler, Faye Stancill, who watched as the argument unfolded, says she was annoyed at Tunay's frequent use of the word "fuck." A third bowler then grabbed Tunay from behind and told him to sit down.

"I'm not saying I'm blameless," Tunay concedes.

Thompson, who knows quite a few of the bowlers at Deer Valley, says after the incident she became embarrassed to have Tunay on her team.

Word spread that bowlers should wear red, white and blue at the next league night, the week after Thanksgiving. That night, on November 30, Thompson asked the bowling alley to play the patriotic music CD, with the intent of sending a message to Tunay.

"They even played the national anthem several times," Tunay says. "It was specifically directed at me. I wish I could somehow say I was exaggerating."

While this was going on, Tunay went over to the soda machine to get a drink. That night, he was wearing a shirt that had a picture of President Bush and the words, "International Terrorist."

As he walked by, a guy wearing an Army Special Forces tee shirt "starts laughing in my face and starts being an ass. I said, 'Fuck you.' I mean, whatever."

Tunay suddenly found himself surrounded by a few vocally angry patrons.

At that point, observers say, manager Cianciola intervened.

"She comes over and says, 'It's time for you to leave,'" Tunay says.

Ribitzki says that's what troubled her the most. She fired off a two-page letter to AMF the next day.

"His skin color and T-shirt do not make him any less deserving of being treated with courtesy and decency," Ribitzki wrote. "It was sad, disturbing, and in my personal opinion, the bowling alley contributed to singling out this man for being different, and, in a sense, encouraged others to confront him by not stopping others from attacking him and threatening to remove him instead."

Tunay ignored Cianciola's command to leave and bowled out the rest of the night. However, his teammate, Thompson, says the situation had gotten too intense — so she and her two friends voted Tunay off the team, as the rules allowed them to do.

Mark Sims, president of the league, says he walked Tunay out to his car and told him of his teammates' decision. They agreed if Tunay paid his league dues for the remaining weeks, he would get the prize money if his team won.

"I said, 'I agree with you — Bush is one of the worst presidents we've ever had,'" Sims says he told Tunay.

Tunay showed up to the bowling alley December 8 with his "Impeach and Imprison" shirt to pay his dues.

He won't bowl there anymore, he says.

But he might show up every now and then to support Ribitzki's team — and he'll be wearing his best.

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