Behind Piper’s Lemonade Stand: Sarah Palin’s Politics of Personal Destruction

Jun 09 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Those aren't crosshairs, silly! Relax!

Chip Thoma was Sarah Palin’s neighbor in Juneau, or to be more precise, he lives near the governor’s mansion. Back in 2009, he became upset about the traffic and pollution emanating from the tour buses coming by the Governor’s mansion and when he dared to voice this complaint, he found himself in Sarah Palin’s crosshairs. This story, like all Palin stories, involved her use of her children as a shield from scrutiny and at times, as a weapon, thus we have the story of how Piper Palin’s lemonade stand was allegedly created and used to harass a citizen seeking to address a traffic grievance.

Chip wanted the tours to stop, and that was probably not going to happen, but in a reasonable world, he would issue his complaint and a designated person would hear him out and see if any sort of compromise could be reached before telling him we heard you, can’t help you, see ya’. Instead, Sarah Palin was outraged that he dared to criticize her via traffic caused by the governor’s mansion.

First she labeled Thoma anti-tourism (perhaps a fair assessment but a childish response to a compliant about traffic), but that didn’t satisfy. She wanted blood, and the way to get that was to have her administration aides spread the news of her victimization far and wide. How best to do this? Set up a strawman so it appeared Thoma was attacking her kid.

Enter the infamous Lemonade Stand. Jeremy Hsieh of the Juneau Empire details the groundwork for how a complaint about traffic landed Thoma labeled a molesting child-hater.

Chip Thoma of the watchdog group Responsible Cruising in Alaska has been galvanizing some residents fed up with years of extra noise, traffic and safety worries brought on by tour operators routing their vehicles – especially buses – through narrow neighborhood streets. For years, tour operators shuttling cruise passengers to and from Juneau’s main attractions have incorporated a detour through a few neighborhood streets to get a drive-by glimpse of the Governor’s Mansion on Calhoun Avenue…

Or in Thoma’s words, “That five seconds ruins a neighborhood. … If the governor’s house had historical value and parking and a scheduled tour, I could see it. But since there is no parking in the area, there are no tours … it’s just an inappropriate venue they’re using there.”

The second version began in the blogosphere and has gone viral, with some dubious elements migrating back into mainstream media. The viral version goes something like this: Chip Thoma, a convicted felon and drunk driver from Juneau, has a grudge against Gov. Sarah Palin and/or despises 8-year-old Piper Palin’s lemonade stand, so as a veiled attack on them he mounted a grassroots campaign to eradicate bus tours in Juneau. Flaming, hyperbolic outrage ensued.

….In an interview, Thoma volunteered his criminal record, noting some 30-year-old convictions for driving while intoxicated and one cocaine-related conviction almost 25 years old.
“People have it in their minds that I’m an arch criminal,” he said.

What kind of flaming hyperbole you ask? After Palin alerted her followers to her feelings of being targeted, as explained and outlined in Frank Bailey’s book, the conservative internet began accusing Thoma of being a child molester, a maggot, and more. Just one example of the hyperbole can be found in blog ironically named A Small Corner of Sanity, that reposted an article from Conservatives for Palin under the title: “More Leftist Child Molestation: Shut down Piper Palin’s Lemonade Stand?”

A Juneau reader, and fan of Governor Palin (a rare breed in Juneau, I’m sure), tells me that Piper Palin has been running a lemonade stand in Juneau. And that one Chip Thoma is the man behind a movement to close it down.

Mr. Thoma leads a group of Juneau residents who are just “sick and tired” of the Palins and the tours that are conducted to the governor’s mansion (something that has been occurring in Juneau since the first governor took office). It seems that Governor Palin is so popular with tourists that thousands of people are walking from the docks to the governor’s mansion in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the first family. Mr. Thoma feels that this — along with Piper Palin’s lemonade stand, trampoline and buoy swing — is “bringing down the neighborhood.” It seems that Mr. Thoma doesn’t enjoy the Palin children very much. Grinch.

None of the bolded statements are true. The lemonade stand did not exist when Thoma filed his complaint. Thoma never tried to shut it down. Thoma never said he was sick of the Palins. Thoma never mentioned the lemonade stand, the trampoline, or the buoy swing. Where ever did they get such ideas?

Juneau Empire again:

In Palin’s response, she herself injects Piper into the discussion as a potential draw for tour bus traffic – an idea that earlier had only been published at Conservatives4Palin.com.

“I wanted to offer (Thoma) to hide Piper’s trampoline further in a corner of the yard … if it’s a matter of not giving anyone anything to look at so they’ll go away then I’d ask Piper to not giggle so loudly on her buoy swing or bicycle in the yard,” the ADN quoted her saying from a written statement.)

So, see, the buoy swing and trampoline came straight from Sarah Palin. The Palin fans then take this so far into the gutter there’s no coming back: “….is this troll simply upset that the better smelling tourists that show up in Juneau will confuse his nasal passages so much that he will finally be able to tell the difference between rotting fish and his wife’s genitals?”

So, man files traffic complaint, ends up being accused of being a child hater and then, the blogger brings up Thoma’s wife’s genitals in an unpleasant way. Whose family is being targeted here? This brings us to the latest development of the civil lawsuit filed by Theodore (Chip) Thoma, wherein he seeks damages for Sarah Palin’s alleged deliberate violation of his constitutional rights in an effort to silence and intimidate him. Little did Chip know that Palin wasn’t merely trying to silence and intimidate him so much as she was using him to represent the Evil Other who were always tormenting her. In order to further this myth, she had to fabricate a cute, viral-worthy news story and this is how we ended up with Piper Palin’s lemonade stand being targeted by the mean child molesting hater.

According to Frank Bailey’s book, “Blind Allegiance To Sarah Palin”, Sarah Palin was still fuming over being asked to pay taxes on the per diem she charged the state for living at home, as she was rarely in the governor’s mansion. And as Frank acknowledges, “By the time we finished with our politics of destruction, he (Thoma) surely regretted ever mentioning the governor’s name. He learned firsthand why so few people were willing to speak out against Sarah Palin. The costs were enormous. At Sarah’s direction, we had managed to construct a story with almost no basis in fact that painted her and daughter Piper as victims.” 



See how we went from a complaint about traffic to Mr. Thoma being a child hater who wanted to shut down Piper Palin’s lemonade stand? Piper didn’t even have her lemonade stand until after Mr. Thoma’s complaint. In fact, according to Frank Bailey, the lemonade stand was created as a way to attack Mr. Thoma.

Thoma ended up discredited nationally for his concern about traffic and pollution. And while his destruction is of note, it begs the larger ethical question for our society of how the politics of personal destruction are used to discredit adversaries in the age of the Internet. How did an article that was fed to Conservatives for Palin by Palin people with no facts to back it up end up being reported nationally as the story?

When you get down to it, all Palin had to do was meet with the Juneau mayor or simply ignore the complaint. Instead, she seized upon it as a distraction and justification for her avoidance of Juneau, a place she deemed ungodly and therefore unfit for her to live in. The AIP had long been bugging Palin to move the seat of government out of Juneau as well, so poor Chip Thoma ended up a discredited pawn in yet one more Palin revenge story.

Fabrications of this magnitude are allowed to fester and take hold of the national narrative. It’s all fine and good for this man to sue, but even if he is successful, how many people will hear of his vindication versus the number of people who hate him for something that never happened? Would you want to be Chip Thoma, targeted for exercising your constitutionally protected right to petition the government? Does the constitution state that anyone who was ever found guilty of a DUI or drug possession 30 years ago has no right to address their government? If not (and of course it doesn’t), why are we discussing Mr. Thoma’s ancient history? Oh, right. Because if we can discredit him, Palin wins.

Speaking out against Sarah Palin or even just speaking out around her can result in being caught in her crosshairs. And when you end up in Sarah Palin’s crosshairs, she uses not only state resources to come after you, but her Internet vigilantes.

I challenge lingering Palin fans to read the links provided in this article and find me one legitimate source that proves that Chip Thoma ever targeted Piper Palin’s lemonade stand, which did not even exist at the time of his first complaint. Since you can’t do that, what do you have to say to this citizen whose reputation your camp destroyed over malicious, untrue gossip? And lastly, if you are sincerely evangelical voters, you might want to consider what these facts suggest about your professed Christianity.

38 responses so far