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On Thursday morning, John Hood, president of the ultra-conservative North Carolina think tank the John Locke Foundation, sent out an apology via his Facebook page for a racially charged picture that was posted Monday on its official blog “The Meck Deck.”  The controversial image (pictured) depicted Obama lounging on the grass, dressed in S&M chains, leather, and high-heeled leather boots with a bucket of Kentucky Fried Chicken between his legs, reports the WRAL.

Blogger Tara Servatius (pictured below) posted a story Monday on the John Locke website that discusses Obama’s recent decision to take a public position against North Carolina’s proposed marriage amendment just to boost his chances of winning the state in November.  The editorial was accompanied by the controversial altered shot of Obama.

Hood claims that he did not know about the photo until late Wednesday evening, when outraged civil rights activists got wind of it and demanded that it be taken down from the site.  The fetish-wear photo, which has been referred to as blatantly racist and homophobic, was removed from the site as of 10 p.m. Wednesday night.  Hood issued the following apology about Servatius’ bad call on the company’s Facebook page:

John Hood is embarrassed and angered today. Earlier this week, a freelancer who blogs at the John Locke Foundation’s Charlotte site posted a piece about President Obama‘s opposition to North Carolina’s marriage amendment. It included an illustration that was offensive and utterly inappropriate for our blog or anyone else’s.

A reader brought it to my attention yesterday, and I had it removed immediately, but…the damage was done. I’m sorry I didn’t see it earlier and I’m deeply sorry it was our site for any length of time. The political discourse in our state and nation has grown increasingly coarse, unnecessarily personal, and destructively vitriolic. This is the kind of episode that can only make the situation worse. We should be able to disagree about controversial issues without it coming to this.

Critics are suspicious of the site’s slow reaction in taking the photo off their site, wondering why there were no registered complaints from readers, editors, or writers over the two days that it was posted.  Afterward, Hood relegated Servatius to the title of “freelance blogger.”  Yet the woman, who has since resigned from her position, seemed to have had a key leadership role at the company as the author of most of the blogs on the site.

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Servatius, who was the host of a radio talk show in Charlotte, North Carolina, was fired from her position last year due to her controversial opinions on politically sensitive issues.  Now, the “journalist” has also issued a laughable apology according to WRAL, which has left many stupefied:

I am genuinely sorry my inclusion of the photo along with my blog post has caused controversy for the John Locke Foundation.

If it has offended anyone, I sincerely regret that. That was certainly not my intention and I would feel awful if that was the case. It was meant to illustrate Obama’s southern political strategy, nothing more. An honest reading of the piece itself shows there is nothing offensive in it.

If you read the piece that goes with it, you will see that I actually think that holding the marriage ban vote this year is a bad political move in North Carolina because it could distract voters from the economy, which should be the main issue.

Best Wishes,

Tara Servatius

PS: At the time, I was searching for a picture of the president in drag to illustrate his southern political strategy of courting young voters, 70 percent of whom support gay marriage. It was one of the first photos to come up on Google Images.

Regrettably, I didn’t think about the racial implications of the picture when I posted it. I simply don’t think in those terms. Unfortunately some people do. To me,  fried chicken is simply a Southern Cuisine.”

NAACP President Rev. William Barber met with Hood on Thursday, according to WRAL to discuss the graphic image that was posted on the conservative think tank site.  Barber issued the following press statement on the foundation’s Art Pope Exposed site, regarding the offensive image:

We at the NC NAACP have learned of the disgusting picture of our President on the John Locke Foundation blog and website. What we have seen so far has both racist and homophobic overtones, both of which are contrary to the fundamentals of our democracy. It’s outrageous and it shows the kind of racialized, mean-spirited and divisive political attitudes that still exist in the South.

On Thursday, we will demand to know who authorized and developed such a racist and bigoted portrayal to be placed on the site of an organization that seeks to have so much influence into the shaping of public policy in NC. Whoever did it is completely over the line. It is reckless and dangerous. And should not only be an afront to the black community, the civil rights community, the LBGT community, but every North Carolinian.

So far, there have been no comments from President Obama about the disturbing graphic.

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