As reported by Art Pope Exposed yesterday and on the Blend, the Meck Deck, an official blog of the Art Pope-funded conservative John Locke Foundation, published a ridiculous and offensive post  with a racially-charged and homophobic image of President Obama to go with author Tara Servatius’s piece this on POTUS’s opposition to North Carolina’s Amendment One, “Obama Goes Pro Gay Marriage to Get NC on Election Day.”

You won’t find the image on the site now, because after a flurry of Tweets and Facebook posts went out linking to the coverage, it quietly disappeared from the site without any explanation. But a screencap grabbed by Art Pope Exposed is evidence of the blatant racism and homophobia that courses through an organization that describes its mission in this manner:

The John Locke Foundation employs research, journalism, and outreach programs to transform government through competition, innovation, personal freedom, and personal responsibility. JLF seeks a better balance between the public sector and private institutions of family, faith, community, and enterprise.

Yeah, right. Freedom for everyone except people of color and gay folks.

The North Carolina NAACP’s Rev. Dr. William Barber, who wrote a powerful open letter to the state’s voters about why they should vote against Amendment One spoke about the Locke imagery of the President:

“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.”

As I said in yesterday’s post, Servatius whined about Barack Obama’s political strategy here in NC on the Locke blog,  complaining that the state has gone Purple and that the Obama campaign is targeting educated professionals (the “creative class”), and concerned that the GOP hasn’t targeted this demographic. The NC GOP has such disdain for the creative class that they cannot wrap their minds around the thought of moving to the center from the fringe-right to appeal to them. Servatius is someone to keep your eye on – Chris Kromm of Art Pope Exposed and director of the Institute for Southern Studies asks a pertinent question (my emphasis:

Servatius, a former right-wing radio commentator for Charlotte’s WBT AM, is a regular contributor to the Meck Deck and Servatius also runs the MeckDeck Twitter account, and authors a good share of their posts. How involved was Servatius in the decision to post the Obama image, and keep it up for two days? Last year, a Charlotte blogger noted that Servatius was a speaker at an event for the neo-Confederate group the League of the South.

UPDATE (12 PM ET): Locke Foundation blogger resigns. The President of the John Locke Foundation has put out a press release announcing it has drop-kicked Servatius, er, she resigned.

A freelance writer has ended her association with the John Locke Foundation’s Meck Deck blog today in the wake of criticism over an offensive illustration linked to one of her blog entries earlier this week.

Tara Servatius informed the Locke Foundation this morning that she wished to resign from her freelance writing for the blog, which focuses primarily on the Charlotte region.

The item posted Monday afternoon focused on President Obama’s opposition to the marriage amendment on North Carolina’s May primary ballot. The initial post included an image combining the president’s face with the image of a person wearing chains and high-heeled boots and sitting next to a bucket of fried chicken.

I’m embarrassed and angered today,” said JLF President John Hood. “The illustration associated with this blog entry was offensive and utterly inappropriate for our blog or anyone else’s. A reader brought it to my attention Wednesday. 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 on our website for any length of time.”

“The political discourse in our state and nation has grown increasingly coarse, unnecessarily personal, and destructively vitriolic,” Hood added. “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.”

Hood agreed with Servatius’ decision. “Given the severity of the situation, this is the best outcome for all concerned.”

Chris Kromm of Art Pope Exposed noted above that she was hardly some freelancer, having represented the organization on Twitter and was the author of many blog posts and Hood explanations for that image’s appearance and disappearance fall flat. In his update:

Servatius clearly enjoyed a leadership role at the Locke Foundation’s Charlotte website. In addition to controlling the blog’s Twitter account, Servatius was also by far its most prolific contributor: A look at the three most recent pages reveals 15 of the last 20 posts were written by Servatius.

Hood claims that he had the image “removed immediately.” Yet the blog’s datestamp shows the Obama image was posted at 4:41 pm on Monday, March 19, and wasn’t removed until after 10 pm the evening of Wednesday, March 21 — and then only after a flurry of online criticism. Hood’s apology doesn’t address how the image was allowed to stay on the site by Locke Foundation editors, writers and readers for that stretch of time without anyone registering concerns.

This isn’t Servatius’ first brush with racial controversy. In a photo that appears to be from 2010, Servatius can be seen addressing a gathering of The League of the South, a neo-Confederate organization that is listed as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center