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GEICO vs. FreedomWorks?

Last week, Matt Kibbe posted the voicemail from voiceover actor Lance Baxter (A.K.A D.C. Douglas). The voicemail was very calm, very steady, asking how many FreedomWorks employees were “mentally retarded”, and then goes on to ask what our spin will be when one of our members finally kills someone. And then he left his name and phone number.

Let’s state the obvious: This is sheer stupidity. If you’re even remotely recognizable and you are representing a company, you don’t alienate customers. It’s as simple as that. GEICO obviously saw the damage, and fired him.

D.C. released a press release today – because, well, why not. Here’s an excerpt:

“I called as a private citizen to make a complaint,” explains Mr. Douglas. “Racism and homophobia are my Achilles heal, but unfortunately my message included inappropriate words and I am sorry for that. However, telling their members to harass my employer to get me fired is an egregiously disproportionate response to my actions.”

First, it’s “heel.” And no, it isn’t disproportionate. If he called to make a legitimate complaint, it most certainly wasn’t made clear in the voicemails. I was under the impression that he was “writing a paper” and “needed to know the number of mentally retarded people that worked for FreedomWorks and were following it?” And when we called back to verify, he said his “questions had been answered.”

So conservatives are now applauding Geico, liberals are now slamming them for caving to the “teabagger” pressure, and poor D.C. Douglas is wailing away on his blog about the injustice of it all. Here’s an excerpt:

Unfortunately, the radical majority is provoked to racial paranoia and mob mentality by unethical Washingtonian operatives like Dick Armey and Matt Kibbe.  If we do not confront these kinds of groups, we risk letting a hate movement gain a dangerous level of influence in our country.

I’m sorry, who’s the one calling people retarded? There is no basis for the accusations of violence among conservatives. Sorry, D.C., you’re wrong.

Kibbe posted his follow up piece today at BigGovernment.com. Go check it out for more examples of the violence directed at FreedomWorks.

Who’s right? The bottom line is the GEICO has a brand to protect. If the voice of your company is leaving nasty messages that target a large portion of the population, you have to make a business decision. Good on GEICO for being smart.

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