Kudos to former Scottsdale mayoral candidate John Washington for calling out both the Arizona Republic and state Representative Michelle Ugenti on his Scottsdale Trails blog, and for introducing me to the hilarious and currently inactive parody Twitter site RubbingUGently, a wicked send-up of the Snottsdale sexpot-turned-Teabagger from Legislative District 23.
Today's Republic features an earnest examination of Ugenti's House Bill 2004, which would make it a Class 5 felony to impersonate someone online with the "intent to harm, defraud, intimidate or threaten."
In its rather credulous report, the Republic paraphrases the femmebot Tea Party-animal as stating that, "she is confident her bill would not affect parody sites and is not intended to do so."A YouTube video pimped by the wag (or wags) at RubbingUGently
But as Washington notes, the article never mentions that during the GOP primary for LD 23, Ugenti was lambasted by the ribald, parody Twitter account RubbingUGently.
"[T]he back story here is that Ugenti herself is a 'victim' of the very parody efforts she claims this bill isn't targeting. Starting sometime last year, a Twitter account popped up on the Scottsdale radar entitled `Michelle @RubbingUGently.' It's a spoof clearly originating from a televised crude comment Ugenti made [as reported by Stephen Lemons in the Phoenix New Times, but never in the Republic] toward a male colleague at a Legislative committee meeting this past spring."
That comment was captured for posterity by the Arizona Legislature's video system.
At the time, I wrote the following:
Ugenti's lowbrow approach to politics was also on display as she chaired a recent session of the House Government Committee, which had just given a do-pass recommendation to a bill that would gut the authority of the Arizona Corporation Commission, and force it to get Legislative approval for certain decisions.
As the Legislative cameras rolled, Ugenti bantered with male colleagues about how long the hearing might go on and whether there would be a break for dinner.
One of them informed Ugenti: "Michelle, I have a hot date tonight."
"No you don't, stop it," she shot back. "Your right hand doesn't count."
Ugenti has become rather infamous for making inappropriate comments. And RubbingUGently (clever wordplay there, BTW) lampoons Ugenti's reputation as a wisecracking Republican party gal, with exaggerated and often risque fake Tweets.
Like this one from July 12:
"Sunday mornings are like my Saturday nights - just get on your knees, take a swig of wine & accept the body of a man into your mouth #Jesus."
Or this thought-provoking ditty on July 28:
"Ugh, Sorry I'm late. I was trying to figure out how to wear jeggings without camel toe #LD23."
Then this from July 11:
"Boobs aside, the best thing about me is my mind. But how do you take a picture of that??"
Sexist, inappropriate, crude? You betcha. But then, Ugenti's foot-in-mouth disease and her predilection for flippant, rude-girl remarks precedes her. Which is part of what makes the fake Twitter account amusing.
Does RubbingUGently cause "harm" to Rep. Ugenti? Not really, though I'm not sure what the legal definition of "harm" would be here.
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Parody is protected speech under the First Amendment. And if Ugenti doesn't get that, I suggest she watch (or re-watch) Milos Forman's The People vs. Larry Flynt, which covered the late Rev. Jerry Falwell's libel suit against Hustler Magazine for a parody of a Campari ad, wherein Falwell waxes sentimental about his "first time" in an outhouse with his mother.
So what does Ugenti achieve by introducing this legislation? Perhaps a bit of not-so-subtle intimidation.
As for the Rep missing the backstory, well, I'll be honest, I don't believe I'd ever heard of RubbingUGently before today, so perhaps the reporter didn't either.
But now that we know it exists, can we take Ugenti's bill any more seriously than we take Ugenti? I mean, hello, like most of the other nudniks in the state Legislature, she's practically the embodiment of self-parody.