The Tea Partiers are taking the high road. Just because Oregon middle school teacher Jason Levin has publicly denounced them as a bunch of "racists, homophobes and morons," they say that's no reason for him to lose his job.
All Levin really needs, they say, is some sensitivity training and some anger management therapy.
Levin, who declared his mission to "dismantle and demolish" the Tea Party on his "Crash the Tea Party" website, was placed on administrative leave last week while a state education board and his school district investigate whether the technology teacher promoted identity theft against Tea Party activists and misused school property.
But the Oregon Tea Party seems to be sipping chamomile. It doesn't want his neck -- just an apology from Levin and the Beaverton School District.
"We don't want to see Jason Levin fired, we want to see him helped," said Oregon Tea Party founder Geoff Ludt. "We want to reach out to him and we want to use his actions to create a teachable moment."
Levin, a media lab teacher at Conestoga Middle School, was placed on leave last week pending the conclusion of an investigation by the Beaverton School District into whether he used school hours or computers to work on his anti-Tea Party website, and if his political activity was appropriate behavior for a teacher of 6th, 7th and 8th grade students.
He is also being investigated by his state's teachers licensing agency, which was inundated with complaints after his incendiary statements became front page news.
In recent weeks, Levin announced his intention to embarrass Tea Partiers by attending their rallies dressed as Adolf Hitler, carrying signs bearing racist, sexist and anti-gay epithets and acting as offensively as possible -- anything, he said, short of throwing punches.
In an interview with Talking Points Memo, Levin said, "Our goal is that whenever a Tea Partier says 'Barack Obama was not born in America,' we're going be right there next to them saying, 'Yeah, in fact he wasn't born on Earth! He's an alien!'"
And in a now deleted post on website, Levin called on his supporters to collect the Social Security numbers -- among other personal identifying information -- about as many Tea Party supporters as possible at the numerous rallies that took place last Thursday.
"The more data we can mine from the Tea Partiers, the more mayhem we can cause with it!!!!" he wrote.
But the Oregon Tea Party says the teacher's actions are cause for a "teachable moment," not a trip to the unemployment line.
Ludt said his group sent out a press release to both the state agency and school district -- the same school district Ludt attended as a child -- on Monday in which they listed their demands.
The group is calling on the Beaverton School District to:
-- Apologize for inadequately supervising their teacher
-- Issue a written pledge to thoroughly investigate whether Levin encouraged his students to repeat overtly racist statements
-- Send a letter to all staff reminding them of district policy prohibiting teacher engagement in political activity on school time or using school resources
Despite being called “that loose affiliation of racists, homophobes, and morons” among a litany of other offensive names, the Oregon Tea Party says that as long as Levin successfully undergoes anger management and sensitivity classes, they see no reason why he shouldn't be allowed to teach.
"Levin sees us as enemies. We see him as a fellow human being who is obviously very angry and troubled. Political dialogue will never advance if we are unable to treat each other decently as human beings," Ludt said.
"Folks are out there are essentially rooting for the football team -- they're more interested in the games and not really looking at the issues. What we're trying to do is focus on the issues and the best way we can see to do that is to rise above the games.”
As for Levin's website, it has crashed and burned. The home page that once invited readers to help him demolish the Tea Party at all costs now simply reads: "Want to Show your support for Jason Levin? BUY A TEA-SHIRT."