A man who seeks votes for Oak Bluffs select board is prolific with Facebook memes that he acknowledges some find offensive.
In recent days, the memes have taken aim at transgender individuals playing sports; another shows the evolution of women’s private parts, and several take aim at Hunter Biden. One meme in particular provides “five rules to remember in life.” No. 4: “Many people are alive only because its (sic) illegal to shoot them.”
James Bishop, 74, makes no apologies for his posts, noting his career building hockey rinks and his tours of duty as a Marine in Vietnam. “I’m not some dumb country bumpkin,” he said. “I don’t trust any government. I was about 60 percent in favor of what Trump did, the other 40 percent — he wasn’t a politician, he was a businessman who was a typical brutal businessman. A lot of that could have been more politically correct. At 74 years of age, the rose-colored glasses are off. I’m brutally honest about my opinions.”
Bishop said he has Facebook friends who are the exact opposite of him politically. “We’ll sit down and have a drink — we’re still friends — because they have a right to their opinion and I have a right to my opinion. Some zealots out here are complaining. One of my friend’s sister-in-laws agreed to put a sign up in her yard. Immediately two of her far-left friends browbeat her down, and I removed the signs.”
Bishop said his friends know that he’s the type of person who helps others on the Island and elsewhere — purchasing and installing grab bars for elderly people at no cost. “That’s what you do for your community,” he said. “I’m not looking for T shirts. I believe in my community. That’s one thing I learned in the Marine Corps — take care of your community. If people think I’m a bad guy, so be it, and don’t vote for me.”
He’s running for office, he said, because the town’s been kicking the can down the road on issues such as wastewater and building a new town well.
Bishop has served on the town’s affordable housing committee. “There are too many people who serve on boards on this Island who do it because they just want to collect a T shirt,” he said. “Power corrupts people.”
Asked specifically about the memes he’s posted, including those that target transgender people and the LGBTQ community, Bishop said he has nothing against transgender and gay individuals. He said his first foray into working on a town board came at the behest of a gay woman and her spouse. “I have no problem with your sexual persuasion. I have no problem with your religious belief. I have no problem with your racial situation, OK? Don’t confuse that with stuff that I do online. I do a lot of that stuff just to poke the bear,” Bishop said. “The bottom line is live your life, leave everyone else alone, and we can all get along.”
He said he’s been called a white supremacist.
Asked if he thinks being gay or transgender is a choice based on calling it a “persuasion,” he said, “If you choose that lifestyle, that’s your lifestyle.”
Bishop went on to say, “I think there’s a certain physiology, wiring in their mind that they want to be gay. Good, let them be gay. If they choose that, fine.”
He followed that up by talking about the new law in Florida that bans teaching students in kindergarten through third grade about sexual identities, saying children shouldn’t be “indoctrinated into it.”
“It’s a physical desire, not a decision,” he said. “If they choose that, fine. It’s how they are. It’s what they are. There’s nothing wrong with it.”
Asked about a meme that shows a cache of weapons on a deck and jokes about the “amount of windows” with no mention of the guns, Bishop defended the post. “You’re part of the problem. You think that’s about gun violence. Have those people killed anybody? Have they attacked anybody? You bought into the mantra.”
Bishop said he has no problems with people having a gun. He calls guns an “asset.”
“I think it’s reprehensible when people kill people, but it’s rampant in America. If you look at where it’s happening, you get an idea who is doing it,” he said.
Bishop did not respond to The Times’ election preview questions. He said he was dealing with a family medical issue when those questions were sent.
He did participate in the League of Women Voters forum on Thursday.
Bishop went on to talk about some town issues. Along with the key issue of sewerage, he said there needs to be a better plan for parking downtown, more emphasis on public transportation, and he criticized offshore wind farms.
Asked if he’ll change his Facebook page should he get elected, he was noncommittal. “I apologize if it upsets some of the more sensitive people here. I care about the community,” he said. “I’m not a politician. I’m a doer.”