Lawmaker’s social media habits are disturbing

There’s a term for intentionally sharing inflammatory, rude and upsetting content on social media: Trolling.

There’s also a term for using denial, misdirection, contradiction and misinformation, to delegitimize a group’s beliefs: Gaslighting.

Trolling and gaslighting often take place on social media behind fake accounts under pseudo names — some don’t shy away from sharing hurtful content.

State Rep. Jim Lucas, R-Seymour, made headlines again this past week for creating and posting what some have said was an offensive message to his personal, public Facebook page.

On May 11, Lucas posted an image of a group of black children dancing with the words “We gon’ get free money!” written on the photo.

Despite receiving a flurry of warranted backlash, Lucas, who represents District 69 (which includes parts of Jackson, Bartholomew and Jennings counties), said it wasn’t racist or offensive and refused to apologize Tuesday. Lucas claimed he was bored Monday and made several memes with various stock photos through a meme generator. He said the intention of the post was to criticize federal bailout efforts and that he believes the government is overstepping its authority.

Lucas told reporters he “doesn’t see color” and blamed the media for the attention received.

State Rep. Robin Shackleford, an Indianapolis Democrat and chair of the Indiana Black Legislative Caucus, sent a letter to House Speaker Todd Huston on Tuesday calling for Lucas to be removed from various committees.

While the Indiana GOP did not issue a statement, Huston made some changes Friday.

Lucas will no longer sit on the Interim Study Committee on Election and on the Interim Study Committee on Public Policy and has been demoted from vice chair to a regular member of the Standing Select Committee on Government Reduction.

Lucas originally stated he didn’t plan on changing his social media habits and that he believes politicians should act like “normal people” on the sites.

In a follow-up with Lucas, he said he regretted making the post and has learned from it. He deleted his page Friday.

The lawmaker’s social media habits weren’t normal or acceptable and haven’t been for years.

This past August, Lucas defended himself after commenting on a WISH-TV’s Facebook page article about Marquise Dozier, who had pleaded guilty to three counts of rape in Allen County. Lucas commented on the story link with a photo of a set of gallows.

In 2017, Lucas posted a letter stating women should arm themselves to avoid becoming “rape victims.” That same year, he shared an image responding to the Women’s March that showed a police officer pepper-spraying a woman in the face. The image read: “Participation trophies now in liquid form.”

In 2016, Lucas shared a meme of a woman trapped in the trunk of a car with the caption “Wanna know who loves you more: your wife or your dog? Lock them both in your trunk and see who’s happy to see you when you let them out.”

The type of content Lucas created was unnecessary and divisive. We should expect and demand better from elected officials.

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