KTTH OPINION

Rantz: Council member blames racism for ‘sexualized’ photo criticism

Apr 3, 2023, 5:55 PM | Updated: 6:23 pm

binda...

From left, Jim Smith, Julieta Altamirano Crosby, George Hurst, Christine Frizzell, Shannon Sessions, Josh Binda (Photo courtesy of the City of Lynwood)

(Photo courtesy of the City of Lynwood)

Lynnwood City Councilmember Joshua Binda used a “sexual” social media post to promote his speaking engagement business to minors. It’s objectively inappropriate. Binda, however, doesn’t see it that way. He’s using the controversy to portray himself as the victim of racism. Given Binda’s Space Needle-sized ego and victim mentality, his reaction does make sense.

To promote his new business and thank student supporters, Binda modeled shirtless on Instagram, showing off a “Love Conquers All” tattoo on his arm. Critics said the pose and sultry expression sexualized the photo. It is also posted on Binda’s official councilmember Instagram account, linking to his city council page titled “Councilman Binda.”

In the accompanying text, he thanks student supporters and praises himself in a way only a 23-year-old with an ego competing with Meghan and Harry could muster.

“To all the students I’ve inspired, talked to, helped, coached, or impacted, this “Love Conquers All” tattoo is dedicated to you and my way of remembering you all forever and keeping yall [sic] with me everywhere I go moving forward. As much as I’ve inspired you guys, you all have inspired me. With that being said, I would like to announce that I’ve officially started my own public speaking business [sic] that I will be using to speak to and inspire kids all over the state, country, and eventually world🌎,” Binda wrote.

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Binda sure does love himself

Binda wasn’t done. He offered a paragraph praising himself in a way that would make self-promoter AOC blush.

“I truly consider myself a transformative leader of our generation. Someone’s [sic] whose [sic] meant to shift the culture and create change that makes a difference in this world. I am not the leader the system necessarily wants, but I am the leader the system needs and I’m here to shake things up and break barriers for future generations. I can feel the power dynamics shifting. Young people, it’s our turn now to shape the world and leave our mark. I’m fearless, I’m confident, I’m ready. Love you all,” he said.

Not everyone loved him back, calling out the post for the sexualized imagery as he attempted to appeal to minors.

The Lynnwood Times quoted several critics calling out the “unbecoming” behavior. One parent accused him of “promoting that sex sells to impressionable kids, especially young girls.” At a city council meeting last week, several residents called on him to resign.

“Is sexual marketing to inspire kids as a city councilman acceptable to this chamber?” one resident asked during public comments.

Council colleagues were not happy, either. One slammed Binda as showing a lack of decorum. Another said her mother was “rolling over in her grave” over Binda’s behavior. One accused Binda of creating these problems because of a lack of interest in taking the job seriously.

Of course, Binda blames racism

In response, Binda took to social media to claim he’s being targeted for being black. In an Instagram story, he said criticism of the sexualized ad “backfired” and that “the over-sexualization of fetishization of black and people of color is real and disgusting.” He went on to laud himself as a “role model for the younger generation” and said he will continue to “break barriers.”

“I have been silent with all the racism, discrimination, intimidation, and misinformation behind the scenes at the hand of these people that control these ‘media outlets,’ one specifically Mario Lotmore, that you see who is conservative as he literally ran for REPUBLICAN SENATE as they have made it their mission to tear me down cause they see the influence and power I have over the next generation and don’t like it,” Binda wrote in a meandering Instagram story. Lotmore is the publisher and owner of the Lynnwood Times.

At the council meeting, Binda inexplicably claimed, “I think it’s easy to sexualize something that was not meant to be sexual at all.” He is not quoted explaining how one can easily sexualize something not meant to be sexual.

Binda did not respond to a request for comment by The Jason Rantz Show on KTTH.

Binda is plagued by bad decisions

At 23 years old, Binda’s political activism landed him on the council, though his tenure has been rocky.

Binda was subject to an investigation for using his position to personally profit after filming a promotional video at council chambers for his motivational speaking gigs. He made over $12,000 in speaker fees last year, but maintained he didn’t think there was anything wrong with using his city council position to benefit financially, though city code prohibits it. The council member even reportedly used his city council email address to conduct paid business as a speaker.

He was also found guilty and fined by the Washington State Public Disclosure Commission for disclosure violations. The Everett Herald notes that his campaign finance filings “showed upward of $10,000 spent on dental work, hair cuts, plane tickets, towing expenses, and more.” He later reimbursed his campaign for the expenditures. And he was fined for failing to submit his personal financial affairs statement as required.

But now, he’s ready to go global with Josh Binda Speaks LLC. His speeches target elementary, middle, and high schools. And it’s noteworthy that Binda sees the criticism of his shirtless photo as racist. The Everett Herald quoted a speech he gave at Lake Stevens High School. He said his time at Kamiak High School, where he graduated, was an amazing experience in which he was “idolized” to the point he barely even remembered the pain from the scourge of racism.

“Like I said, I was a star athlete. I was ASB President. Everybody loved me,” Binda said, according to the Herald. “Because of the way people idolized me, I almost forgot that racism almost even existed.”

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This isn’t an issue for the Council

The criticism is unquestionably warranted. Binda posed in a sexualized manner in a post geared toward kids. He knew what he was doing. It is not, however, the business of the Council to investigate or even address. Posing shirtless, even if it aims to use sex appeal, is not illegal. And it’s hard to imagine what ethical issues arise that could even trigger Council interference. Binda is immature, consistently shows bad judgment, and has a monstrously unearned ego.

Like many other progressive activists, he’s thin-skinned and leans into uninspired claims of racism to deject valid criticisms.

Binda won’t ever take responsibility or admit fault because he has convinced himself he’s always a victim. It’s what will keep him from rising above a low-level politician who doesn’t demand much respect outside of a group of 15-year-old girls who may like his abs but whose lives will be limited to the barista jobs they stay in until their 43, constantly complaining they don’t make enough money. They could become so much more, but they fall for the egos of boring politicians who love themselves more than their community. Binda brags that he has “influence and power” over young people, and somehow he thinks that won’t turn younger people off.

Take it out next election

For any constituent angry about this conduct, they should use it during the next election cycle.

This is purely a political matter for the voters. If voters are bothered by Binda, they don’t have to vote for him the next time he runs. That is, assuming he runs for re-election, given the inevitable worldwide success he feels his speaking business will generate. Will he even have time to be a council member?

For now, the community is stuck with him. They’re right to shine a spotlight on his antics because it’ll serve as a reminder that he’s in his position to build his personal brand, not to serve Lynnwood. And that will make defeating him much easier.

In an ideal world, the council member would take this criticism as a sign to do more for the community and less for his image. He could show the community he’s a serious lawmaker focused on issues to make his community better, not nurse some low-level, faux-celebrity. But Binda can’t seem to control or hide his ego; it will catch up with him. Given his rocky start, he’ll almost certainly engage in conduct worthy of a recall. Let that happen and keep the council out of this controversy.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show on weekday afternoons from 3:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast. Follow @JasonRantz on TwitterInstagram, and Facebook. Check back frequently for more news and analysis.

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