In Washington, no one blinked when President Obama chose Harvey Milk, the slain San Francisco councilman and gay rights activist, to receive the Medal of Freedom. But in San Francisco, one man did.
His name is Randy Thomasson, and he heads the conservative policy watchdog Save California. On Wednesday, the group held a press conference outside San Francisco City Hall to protest the honor, spitting distance from where Milk was assasinated in 1978. Using a series of visual aids, Thomasson argued that the civil rights crusader was unfit for the nation's highest civilian honor.
"Is this for the Onion? Come on, this must be for the Onion," a casual observer announced to no one in particular.
That pretty much sums it up. Of the 16 recipients of the Medal of Freedom today—among them Stephen Hawking and Sidney Poitier—perhaps none is more artificially controversial than Milk, whose life and work inspired last year's Oscar-nominated film. Sure, California's enjoyed it's fair share ofreal gay controversy this past year (Prop 8, anyone?). But nothing stokes artificial controversy like TV news cameras.