Unfortunately, it's not a joke, so there's no punchline. There's a real live attorney general in Alabama who actually wants to enforce the sex toy ban enacted by the fundamentalist-dominated state legislature a few years ago. Troy King is serious about this -- he will bust your ass for a vibrator.
Sure, there are other states, especially in the South, that have some pretty ridiculous laws on the books. In Mississippi, for instance, it's illegal -- even for married couples! -- to have oral sex. The law's still on the books, presumably because none of the good-old-boy legislators there wants to become known as the guy who legalized blow jobs.
But Troy King is cut from a different cloth. AG King, widely known as a thin skinned, vindictive (that from the Alabama District Attorneys Association!) and spiteful little man and a "hateful punk," believes that sex toys are immoral and that he should be concerned with arresting those who use them.
With all the real crime that takes place in Alabama -- including a whole passel of shady dealings in politics, corruption, and graft, much of it involving King himself -- Troy's more concerned that the wimmen folk might let their lustful urges get out of control once they learn that "men" and "orgasms" don't always have to be in the same room.
Mobile Press Register political cartoonist J.D. Crowe's take on Troy King's sex toy phobia
My friend, fellow blogger and former Alabama gubernatorial candidate Loretta Nall gets the credit for originally alerting me to the outrageous sex-phobic shenanigans of Troy King last year. Loretta got some coverage from Dame Magazine on her "Sex Toys For Troy King" campaign, in which Loretta encouraged everyone to send the Attorney General a sex toy of their choice -- a brilliant bit of political theater.
I want to join Loretta in encouraging everyone to send sex toys to Troy King. Here's his address:
Office of the Attorney General
Alabama State House
11 South Union Street, Third Floor
Montgomery, AL 36130
Loretta also blogged about Troy's laughable, pathetically bad posthumous duet with a non-consenting Johnny Cash, and I was galvanized into action. When some idiot who never even met Johnny Cash starts screwing with the memory of The Man In Black, it is ON, homie.
In January of this year, I obtained online a 30-second sample of the King/Cash duet, which Troy had distributed to about 25 friends and supporters as Christmas "gifts," and I slapped together a little slide show video to go with it, which I then put on YouTube.
Next thing I know, I'm being interviewed by leading Alabama newspaper The Tuscaloosa News, and as I told them, as a native Alabamian myself, I really hate when some ignorant, pea-brained yokel like King makes the state a laughingstock.
Almost immediately, the video gets 1,500 views online. And Troy made a rookie mistake: His press officer ran his mouth to the press (Rule #1: If you're a public official, you never respond to a crank). To quote the Tuscaloosa News story, "King spokesman Chris Bence said the West Coast is a good fit for Elliott. 'Outside the state is the best place for him,' Bence said."
Within a few weeks, King pulled some strings and had the video pulled from YouTube; to do so he went through his friends at the John R. Cash Trust, who spooked YouTube into pulling the video with a spurious "copyright infringement" claim. (The claim is patently ridiculous, because a 30-second clip falls well within "Fair Use" doctrine, and in any event, the Cash version of the song on which King overdubbed his god-awful vocals has never been officially released.)
So I started wondering. What's up with a guy so vindictive, so petty, so insecure that he has to have his press agent answer some crackpot 2,500 miles away when I put up a 30-second video showing him in a less than flattering light? And when he feels the need to discredit me, he thinks that he can do it based on where I choose to live?
Now, here's where the shit gets deep.
If having dildo-phobia, a thinly-disguised fear of feminine sexuality and delusions of country stardom (even to the extent of desecrating the dead) aren't enough to convince you that Troy King is a nut job and a dirt bag, there's plenty more, folks.
Cartoon by JD Crowe
Among Troy's, other, um, "accomplishments":
• The selective prosecution of former Alabama Gov. Don Siegelman -- mostly for being the most popular and successful Democrat in the state -- was aided by King's office, and Troy's fingerprints, along with those of Bush operative Karl Rove, are all over the case. "Mr. King is an ambitious man who appears ruthless and vindictive," wrote the Decatur Daily. "That makes Mr. King a dangerous man who unfortunately wields extraordinary power over people’s lives."
• King blew up when, as state chairman of John McCain's presidential campaign, he was passed over to give McCain's introduction. Rumor initially had it that Alabama Gov. Bob Riley would attend the event. King didn't want Riley stealing "his" spotlight, and undoubtedly making it sting even more for the man who would be King, a film crew was on hand -- our insecure but vain hero wanted to be filmed speaking to a large and adoring crowd (for future campaign ads?) U.S. Rep. Spencer Bachus ended up giving the introduction, while a furious King's tantrums had worn out those around him. "Would all this be a factor in King’s unusual demeanor on stage behind McCain?" asked Alabama blog Doc's Political Parlor, which added, "People on both sides of the aisle noted how King rarely smiled... while he continually scanned the crowd like he was looking for someone or something. I would not have mentioned it here except that others also particularly noticed it and said how odd it was."
• Perhaps the paranoid King was scanning the crowd for an assassin. His megalomania and paranoia are becoming legendary; King wears a flak jacket everywhere, according to widely published accounts. King's sense of self-importance is gargantuan. Said a witness to one public appearance: "First, he comes right in and parks right up front in the spot marked off for the Governor. The man always wants front row parking. He won’t walk anywhere. It’s like he’s the president. And he’s wearing his flak jacket. He acted like there was a sniper on every roof." And this was in Elba, his hometown, where he is supposed to be widely popular.
• King is known for his adversarial relationship with local district attorneys in Alabama. He goaded district attorneys around the state by sending out critical press releases naming individual DAs who took a public stance opposing him on a widely publicized death penalty murder case. According to the Mobile Press Register, 15 district attorneys around the state were targeted with customized press releases. Newspapers throughout Alabama strongly criticized King for his ham-handed hot-dogging. "When it comes to political grandstanding, Alabama Attorney General Troy King is usually right up there with the best - or worst - of them, depending on your point of view," said the Florence Times-Daily. "Even King may have outdone himself with his latest effort, an attack on the Shelby County district attorney [Robby Owens] for his handling of a death penalty case." The Alabama District Attorneys Association questioned King's fitness for his job, noting that he has no real experience in trial law. "We think the association is right on point," the Times Daily editorialized. "His time in office has been marked by ethical and judgment lapses as well as a continual disinterest in taking the high road." It has been suggested that King’s takeover of the Gamble murder case was at least partially due to DA Owens, a fellow Republican, supporting and endorsing King’s 2006 opponent for Attorney General, Democrat John Tyson.
• King holds a grudge in the most unprofessional way. Troy was still so mad at Shelby County DA Robby Owens that, incredibly, he tried to get a judge to bar Owens' testimony in another, unrelated court hearing -- despite the fact that this time, Owens supported King's position!
• Harper's Magazine has anointed Troy "The King of Political Prosecutions." "Alabamians are waking up to the realization that their Attorney General has been playing political games with prosecution for some time," political writer Scott Horton wrote in the magazine last year. According to the article, King "played a very curious role in installing his former client, Congressman Bob Riley, as Governor in the face of mounting evidence of election fraud in Baldwin County."
• According to Mobile's Lagniappe magazine, an investigator working for King described how King pushed him for dirt on a former district attorney who was prepared to challenge King for the position of Attorney General: Asked to divulge details of those investigations, Anthony "Tony" Castaldo declined elaboration, saying that an investigator does not talk about the specifics of cases. But in October 2005, Castaldo was in Birmingham in a vehicle with King and one other staff member. Mobile County District Attorney John Tyson, Castaldo’s former boss, had recently announced his intention to challenge King for the state’s top prosecutor slot, and King was reading a newspaper story about it in the vehicle. “I can still see it,” Castaldo described, “King said, ‘Looks like Tyson’s throwing his hat in the ring now.’ Then he turned to me and said, ‘You used to work for him. You got anything we can use on him?’ I just looked at him and said, ‘I’ve worked for politicians and never spoke out of school about any of them and would afford you the same respect should the opportunity present itself.’” That wasn't the answer Troy King wanted. In the next months, Castaldo found his office lock was forced, his papers rifled and his timesheets examined. He has become a target of a Troy King vendetta, according to Harper's.
• King then initiated the perjury trial of the afore-mentioned Anthony Castaldo by forwarding "evidence" to the Jefferson County district attorney. Castaldo claims that the trial was pushed by King as political payback for refusing “to do political things” for the Attorney General, including helping attack John Tyson, King’s Democratic opponent in the 2006 general election. Castaldo was acquitted after only 45 minutes of jury deliberation. "It seems just a little odd that King would pro-actively foward a case to a district attorney so that he can charge one of his special prosecutors," noted Daily Dixie. "It’s also pretty telling that King gave the case to David Barber, who is one of only a handful of Republican district attorneys in Alabama, when the alleged perjury occurred in Bessemer which has its own DA who happens to be Democrat."
• King conducted a “year long vindictive witch hunt” in an effort to find "anything - old campaign records, finance records" to get Circuit Judge Dan King (no relation) “off the bench,” according to a sworn statement by the above mentioned Castaldo. The affidavit alleges that the prosecution of the judge was selectively based on Troy King’s disapproval of Judge King’s ruling on certain gambling machines in 2004.
• King admitted to the Birmingham News that he had asked Roy Johnson, former chancellor of the state’s two-year college system, to find a job for the mother of a friend — while King’s office was carrying out an investigation of the system and of Johnson. "It was a huge error in ethical judgment for the attorney general to seek a favor from the subject of a criminal probe," wrote algop.net. "But King’s ethical lapse goes even deeper than that," wrote the Montgomery Advertiser. "He didn’t ask for just any favor; he asked Johnson to hire someone when such widespread hiring of friends and relatives by officials in the two-year college system could turn out to be a part of the investigation." King announced that he was removing himself from the investigation -- but only after only after severe public reaction and criticism from around the state -- and proceeded to ignore subsequent calls for his resignation.
• King accepted luxury box seats at Atlanta Braves games from Alabama Power, the utility which has a monopoly on most electrical power in the state. The "gift" was not reported to the Alabama Ethics Commission. Bear in mind that King is supposed to be representing the customers of Alabama Power at the Public Service Commission. King claimed it wasn't a conflict of interest, and was "no different than a campaign contribution, which politicians get all the time." Except a campaign contribution would have to have been reported. The value of the gift was in the thousands of dollars. The boxes rent for more than $2,000 a day, and the food bill for King's party came to more than $1,262, according to the Tuscaloosa News. "Someone needs to have a long, heart-to-heart talk about high ethics with Attorney General Troy King," the News wrote. "He either fails to grasp the concept or scoffs at it. Either failing is especially critical for a man in his position." According to Daily Dixie, King reimbursed Alabama Power $436 for the food consumed by himself and his family only after the utility company "educated" the attorney general about ethics law. Power company officials explained to him that they could not pay for it since they were not physically present at the meals (isn't it nice to know that the Attorney General of Alabama is getting ethics advice from a lobbyist?). Notorious cheapskate King wouldn't spring for the other $826 in edibles consumed by the rest of his party.
• King's particular zeal for killing people has given pause to more than a few. "Attorney General Troy King can be criticized for many things. But nobody's ever called him a death penalty sissy," wrote the Birmingham News. "Indeed, King is so gung-ho about putting people to death that it's more than a little scary. His viewpoint on executions seems to be the more, the merrier." "To people like Troy King, courts are nothing but an annoyance," noted Alablawg. "All they do is protect 'the rights of criminals.' Troy King despises the Bill of Rights, because, in his mind, there are only two kinds of people: Good People and criminals... Like it or not, people lie, make mistakes and do stupid things. That includes cops, prosecutors, eyewitnesses, experts, and attorneys general. People are people even when they are state officials or crime victims. Because people are people, we limit their power to take away another person’s freedom," Alablawg continues. "Crime is serious, but so is executing someone. The balance struck between penalizing crime and protecting freedom is what Troy King derisively calls 'the rights of criminals.' No, they are not. They are your rights, and my rights." Beautifully put.
• King had his opinion on payments to indigent defense lawyers unanimously overturned by the Alabama Supreme Court. Under King's, er, "leadership," indigent public defenders were being paid an average of $4.98 an hour to defend capital murder cases, when possibly innocent people's lives were in the balance. "Attorney General Troy King maintains Alabama's capital punishment system is as good as any in the world," noted the Birmingham News. "Yet, considering its built-in flaws, King's assurances cannot be sustained with even a modest degree of confidence. Clearly, the best hope for somebody charged with a death penalty offense is a vigorous, thorough defense at the initial trial in circuit court. But the system in Alabama works hard against that obvious and basic premise."
• King forced the State of Alabama into a frivolous lawsuit against the U.S. Department of the Interior after the Department ruled in favor of a Native American tribe in an electronic bingo games case. The Department of the Interior saw through King's attempt to choose the interests of wealthy racetrack owners, who also operate the electronic bingo games, over an Indian Tribe. As with seemingly everything King does, this became personal and in a last ditch, doomed attempt to save face in a losing argument, he sued the federal government, using the tax dollars of the citizens of Alabama.
King gets his ankle bracelet removed -- photo opportunity!
• King dramatically wore an GPS tracking ankle bracelet for several days to "push" the Alabama Legislature to pass a law requiring some repeat sex offenders to wear the devices after release from prison. The law passed both houses unanimously, as expected, confirming that King's “push” was unnecessary and was actually yet another case of his callow ambition and political grandstanding.
• As a law student at the University of Alabama, King wrote nastily homophobic letters to the Crimson White, the student newspaper. King decried the tolerance exhibited towards gay students on campus: "The existence of the Gay/Lesbian alliance on this campus is an affront to the state of Alabama, its citizenry, this diversity and its students... One has but to look at the forces which the controversy has united--from the American Civil Liberties Union to the National Organization of Women to the Queer Nation just to name a few--to clearly see how corrupt a cause this truly is." When asked by current Crimson White staffers if his opinion had changed, King granted only that now he'd use "more judicioius language."
The people of Alabama deserve a better Attorney General than Troy King. Unfortunately, the next election for AG isn't until 2010.