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Today, Mike Madden published a piece on Salon about the conservative tea-bagging parties staged across the country to protest Obama’s first Tax Day. In it, Madden quoted Brian Smith, a Greenville, S.C., man who attended the Washington, D.C. Lafayette Park protest while in town on business. Writes Madden:

Another seemingly sedate protester, Brian Smith, a marketer from Greenville, S.C., who was in Washington on business and came by the rally, wandered equally off message. “I love my country and I don’t like what’s going on,” Smith said. “Government—-to be honest with you, and this will probably be misquoted, but on 9/11, I think they hit the wrong building. They should have gone into the Capitol building, hit out, knocked out both sides of the aisle, we’d start from scratch, we’d be better off today.” I pointed out that “they” did try to hit the Capitol. “Yeah, I know, they missed,” he said. “The wrong sequence. If someone had to go, it should have been the Capitol building. On that day I felt differently, but today that’s the way I feel.”

I was curious: Did Smith feel he was misquoted? I called him to find out.

When I called Smith, he had yet to read the Salon piece, but he allowed me to read the paragraph back to him to gauge his reaction. “Well, the context is wholly facetious,” says Smith, “I don’t want my entire government to be gone, but we might be better off if we start from scatch.”

Did Madden fail to make Smith’s facetiousness clear? “In the way you read it, yeah, I think so—-don’t you?” replied Smith, raising another question: Was it Madden’s writing or my own delivery that caused the context to suffer?

Smith added that he, too, could have aided in further contextualizing the quote. “I probably should have said that they can leave peacefully, and that would be fine, too,” clarified Smith.

Beyond the lack of clarity on the facetiousness of his comment, Smith says Madden’s presentation was fair. “Yeah, I ‘spose,” Smith confirmed.

Photo by irrational_cat