Monday, July 30, 2018

Bigfoot Steps Into Virginia's 5th District Race

Republican Denver Riggleman, a former Air Force intelligence officer and owner of the Silverback Distillery outside of Charlottesville, Virginia, who ran a short-lived campaign for governor last year, finds himself mired in a Congressional campaign with Democrat Leslie Cockburn, a well-known documentary filmmaker (Guns, Drugs, and the CIA; From the Killing Fields) and investigative journalist.

Riggleman named his liquor distillery after gorillas. In 2016, he wrote, “As you know, we are called ‘Silverback Distillery’ and we are proud to support any function that benefits the Virunga National Forest [located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo] and those awe inspiring gorillas.”

The two candidates are running to win the massive, triangle-shaped 5th Congressional District, which is bigger in area than New Jersey, and runs from Fauquier County in the north down to the Shenandoah Valley, through Appomattox and across Southside Virginia.

Over the last weekend of July 2018, their major conflict hit social media with one point being Riggleman's interest in Bigfoot. Cockburn (pronounced /ˈkoʊbɜrn/ KOH-burn; not cock-burn, btw), pointed out via Twitter that Riggleman was engaged in "Bigfoot erotica," through some of his writings.

It appears to have begun with Cockburn claiming Riggleman supported white supremacists and of enjoying Bigfoot porn:

With headlines like "Bigfoot Porn Has Become a Major Controversy in U.S. House Race. Seriously." (HuffPost) to "Thanks to Olivia Wilde's Mom, I've Had to Explain Bigfoot Porn Today and I'm Not Pleased" (Elle), it has been quite a 48 hours.

But what is the reality behind the media hysteria and campaign rhetoric? 

Politics aside (you have to judge the business about how each side claims that white supremacists use their material), how does the Bigfoot subject fit into this campaign?

Denver Riggleman's Bigfoot Interests 

One image shows Riggleman’s face superimposed on a drawing of Bigfoot, which also has its penis censored.

Riggleman explained that his "buddies" (Air Force intelligence friends? Facebook friends? Who?) "thought this pic was fitting for my birthday next week, and to celebrate my new book release in about a month or 2… Mating Habits of Bigfoot and Why Women Want Him.’”

Until all this media attention descended, Riggleman's interest in Bigfoot had him talking online about Bigfoot, and promoting an already self-published non-sexual Sasquatch book entitled Bigfoot Exterminators Inc.: The Partially Cautionary, Mostly True Tale of Monster Hunt 2006.

In essence, Riggleman clearly appears to be a fan of Bigfoot, not Bigfoot porn.

I'm not supporting Riggleman politically, but Bigfoot's behavior patterns have been an interest of mine for a long time. Any intrigue with Bigfoot, a weird sense of humor, and questions of the sexual activities of these unknown apes often go hand in hand. No pun intended.

In the July 27, 2018 article, which ran two days before Cockburn’s tweets, Cook Political Report noted that Riggleman’s Instagram account “was once peppered with images of what can only be described as Bigfoot-themed erotic art” and added that one friend chocked it all up to his “offbeat sense of humor.” Source.

The ignoring of Bigfoot's mating activities by serious researchers have been criticized by me.

This resulted in my writing "Chapter 13: Sex and the Single Sasquatch" in my Simon and Schuster book, Bigfoot! The True Story of Apes in America.

Riggleman's curiosity about Bigfoot has been morphed by others into "Bigfoot porn," perhaps too quickly and inappropriately. 

It has happened to me. Memes have been created about what I've had to scientifically say about the biology of Sasquatch, and it got outrageous.

This is a road down which many have ventured, never to return with their credibility.

Leslie Cockburn's Links

From the other side, the Republicans are now attacking Cockburn's ties to the progressives in her family, as well as her and their past writings on Israel's relationship with America. Cockburn herself has been criticized by Virginia Republicans for her earlier writing. Her 1991 book about U.S.-Israeli relations has been slammed by the GOP as anti-Semitic.

Leslie Cockburn married Andrew Cockburn, a member of a family with a strong Irish legacy of writers, and, indeed, she is an investigative journalism of some note. The Cockburns are related to Sir George Cockburn, 10th Baronet, who ordered the Burning of Washington in 1814. The Cockburns reside in Rappahannock County, Virginia.

Leslie Cockburn has two brothers-in-law, Alexander Cockburn and Patrick Cockburn, also journalists, and two half-sisters-in-law. One sister-in-law, Sarah, was best known as the mystery writer Sarah Caudwell. The other sister-in-law, Claudia, was a disability activist and married Michael Flanders, half of the well-known performance double-act Flanders and Swann; the two children of this marriage are the journalists Laura Flanders and Stephanie Flanders, her half-nieces.

Her husband Andrew's most famous brother, Alexander Claud Cockburn (June 6, 1941 – July 21, 2012) was an Irish-American progressive political journalist and leftist writer, who edited the political newsletter CounterPunch. Cockburn also wrote the "Beat the Devil" column (1984–2012) for The Nation.
Cockburn’s campaign biography says she was a journalist for decades. “Leslie’s distinguished career in journalism spanned thirty-five years. A producer for CBS News 60 Minutes, a correspondent for PBS Frontline, a Ferris Professor of Journalism at Princeton, a writer and author, Leslie has won two Emmys, two George Polk Awards, two Columbia Dupont journalism awards, and the Robert F. Kennedy Award,” the bio reads. Her husband, Andrew, is the Washington editor of Harper’s Magazine. According to the bio, the actress Olivia Wilde is one of their three children. Source.

One of Leslie Cockburn's books, written with her husband, Andrew Myles Cockburn (born January 7, 1947), is being discussed during the 2018 campaign. It is Dangerous Liaison ~ The Inside Story of the U.S.-Israeli Covert Relationship: Money, Mossad, and the Inside Story of the U.S. - Israeli Covert Relationship. See the PBS interview here.

Criticism of the book goes from it being anti-Semitic (although it is clear critic Alan Dershowitz has a long history of anti-Cockburnism) to anger directed at Leslie Cockburn because, no fault of her own, David Duke's and David Black's white supremacy Stormfront site likes her book. 

Some of Leslie Cockburn's books include:

Leslie Cockburn and Andrew Cockburn are the parents of Olivia Wilde.
Olivia Wilde in Cowboys & Aliens 

Wilde in HBO television's Vinyl

Olivia Wilde (born Olivia Jane Cockburn; March 10, 1984) is an Irish-American actress, model, producer, director and activist. She is known for her role as Dr. Remy "Thirteen" Hadley on the medical-drama television series House (2007–2012), and her roles in the films Alpha Dog (2007), Tron: Legacy (2010), Cowboys & Aliens (2011), Butter (2011), Drinking Buddies (2013), The Incredible Burt Wonderstone (2013), Her (2013), The Lazarus Effect (2015), Love the Coopers (2015), and Meadowland (2015). Source: Wikipedia.

Riggleman Further Denies Erotica Claims

By early Tuesday, July 31, 2008, word was spreading that Denver Riggleman had firmly denied Cockburn's claims. 

In an interview on Monday, Mr Riggleman described the image from his social media account as "a 14-year practical joke between me and my military buddies".
He told the Conservative Review that the image was a prank from friends who were joking about a book he is currently writing: The Mating Habits of Bigfoot and Why Women Want Him.
The book, he says, will be "a sort of joke anthropological study on Bigfoot believers"....Riggleman says he has found his rival's attacks "hilarious". "I didn't know there was Bigfoot erotica, even with all my Bigfoot studies," he said. "I thought this was such a joke that nobody would ever be dumb enough to think that this was real, but I guess her campaign did." He warned tongue-in-cheek that Ms Cockburn could alienate the "pro-Bigfoot" vote. Source.
“I do not believe that Bigfoot is real,” he also told local daily newspaper the Richmond Times-Dispatch, joking he didn’t “want to alienate any Bigfoot voters” with his admission.

Riggleman also was quoted by the New York Times as saying, "I have a sense of humor. I'm not going to apologize for personality."

The July 30, 2018 article in the New York Times was entitled "'Bigfoot Erotica' Becomes an Issue in Virginia Congressional Campaign." It said, in part:
In an interview, he said he did not believe in Bigfoot but had been interested in the topic since he was a child. When he was 10, he said, his grandfather abruptly ended a walk they were on because he “saw something mighty peculiar that was hairy and large” in the woods. (Mr. Riggleman does not claim to have seen anything himself.)
That childhood interest led to his participation in an ESPN article more than a decade ago that described his participation in a Bigfoot hunt in West Virginia.
He has participated in the writing of a book on the subject, Bigfoot Exterminators, Inc.: The Partially Cautionary, Mostly True Tale of Monster Hunt 2006. It was authored with the ESPN writer Don Barone and described another Bigfoot hunt in the Adirondack Mountains of New York. Source.
Denver Riggleman (who is identified as an "ex-intel officer from the National Security Agency") appears to have been conducting active field investigations for a long time. As the ESPN article mentions, this included his being on a BFRO paid expedition.

Riggleman noted to the ESPN writer that two decades after the Bigfoot sighting, "his grandfather still doesn't say what it was, only that it was big, brown and 'looked mighty unnatural.'" 

As I mentioned above, the Bigfoot claims have escalated the Republicans who, as the BBC News observed, "have in turn been targeting Ms Cockburn, depicting a 1991 book the former investigative reporter wrote criticising the US-Israel alliance as anti-Semitic, which she denies."

Post-Trump, Post-Reality World

Speaking of life in a post-2016 world, through the metaphor of The X-Files, Christopher Knowles reminds us that we may be living in a post-Conspiracy Culture reality. Did the rise of a reality television star to the presidency signaled the collapse of conspiracy culture?

Is it surprising that the facts behind a political campaign are muddled in the fiction of tweets, Bigfoot, and claims that have no truth, on either side?
So the romantic quest of a Mulder and Scully, firm in the belief that the "Truth"-capital T will set you free, doesn't even register in this day and age. If any Truth happens to darken your day, your Twitter and/or Facebook feed will chase those blues away. No one even cares about objective Truth anymore. Doing so is almost certainly a fireable offense these days anyway. So check with your HR dept. Christopher Knowles in The Secret Sun, July 31, 2018.
As Knowles says in his essay, "But with Trump's election, the Establishment no longer has any patience at all for conspiracy culture, other than its own."

So be it. Bigfoot, not the zoological Sasquatch but the psychological Hairy Beast, enters politics in 2018.

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