A member of an Arkansas Tea Party group has resigned her committee seat after she opened an event last week by telling a racially-charged joke.

Inge Marler told the joke as an ice-breaker before a June 9 rally of the Ozark Tea Party. It details a fictitious conversation between a black boy and his mother after the boy asks about democracy:

“A black kid asks his mom, ‘Mama, what’s a democracy?’

“‘Well, son, that be when white folks work every day so us po’ folks can get all our benefits.’

“‘But mama, don’t the white folk get mad about that?’

“‘They sho do, son. They sho do. And that’s called racism.’”

Audio has surfaced of Marler telling the joke, too:

“I was caught off-guard,” the group’s founder, Richard Caster, told the Baxter Bulletin afterwards. “I wish she (Ozark Tea Party board member Inge Marler) hadn’t said it,” Caster said. “I am sorry about Miss Marler’s joke.”

Marler, who was member of the group’s steering committee, has since resigned. Caster announced that move in a statement to the paper, which included a charge to the media to do its due diligence in investigating other matters:

On Saturday, June 9th, the Ozark Tea Party came together to work towards a brighter future for America. Sadly, our vision and message was tainted by an incredibly inappropriate joke told by one of our committee members, Inge Marler.

I was shocked when it was told and as the leader of this organization, I sincerely apologize. Jokes like these have no place in American Politics.

Due to her unfortunate actions, Ms. Marler has agreed to leave the Ozark Tea Party Steering Committee. Ms. Marler did not speak for me or for the Ozark Tea Party when she told that joke. We hold ourselves to a very high standard, and her joke went against what we stand for as a Tea Party. As anyone who has organized an event knows, it is impossible to control every word that is said at the microphone. If I could have stopped her, I would have. Once again, I apologize on behalf of the Ozark Tea Party.

I was very impressed by the media coverage of our Tea Party. I was beginning to think that Investigative Journalism was dead. However, the media has proved me wrong. I would ask the media to continue to do their jobs and to discover the truth wherever it lies.

[...]

Ms. Marler was wrong in telling that joke and is no longer a part of our organization. She was held accountable. However, Eric Holder, who is the United States Attorney General, used tax dollars to pay for guns that were used to kill American citizens, and he has not been held accountable. Rep. Maxine Waters has not been held accountable. Rep. Barny Frank has not been held accountable. I would argue that given their positions of power, not only their words but the implications on their actions vastly out way the affect of Ms. Marlers’ inappropriate joke.

Lastly, Occupy Wall Street, who has been coined by the media as, “the Left’s answer to the Tea Party,” has not been held accountable for the rapes, vandalism and public defecation, that have occurred during their events, on multiple occasions. I have yet to hear of a Tea Party event where young women were raped, businesses were shut down, and activists were pooping on police cars.

I have no problem with the media holding us accountable. We held ourselves accountable. I just wish they gave the same treatment to everyone.

“I had no idea,” Caster, who is 21, told HuffPo in recalling the event. “She had given me her whole speech, and it was about her growing up in Yugoslavia and coming to America. I am on stage and then she said something not like what she gave me. I was shocked. I looked at the guy next to me and he said ‘oh my gosh’.”

“She is a gray-haired elderly lady, and I did not want to go up and yank her off stage,” he added. “In hindsight, I should have said something.”

Marler has responded, too. In a letter to the editor she says she is not racist. It reads, in part:

Yes, I told the joke to point out the hypocrisy and just how far we had come, how ridiculous we had become, in the name of “political correctness.” And as I told your reporter when I called him — he did not call me — that he should not read anything into it that wasn’t there. And I never mentioned “welfare abuse.” What I did tell him was “that I have no racist bone in my body, and that those fighting for our freedoms — black, white, red, yellow or purple — all bleed red.” But, if you want to talk about “abuse,” there is plenty to go around — the biggest being our government that is trampling on our Constitution, chipping away at our freedom and liberty and sabotaging our children’s future.

“In her heart, she is a good lady but she said something stupid,” Caster told HuffPo. “If I said that, I would leave the movement. We are good people.”

He later concluded: “It dawned on me that this little old lady got on stage and said a two-bit, retarded joke that she should not have said and it was all over,” Caster said. “It’s funny how a little old lady can cause a huge stir, and people with real power and nothing happens.”

As for the origin of the joke, Marler reportedly got it off the internet.