Tucker Max proposed Planned Parenthood donation sparks Internet fire

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by MARK WIGGINS / KVUE News and photojournalist ERIN COKER

Bio | Email | Follow: @MarkW_KVUE

kvue.com

Posted on April 4, 2012 at 6:22 PM

Updated Wednesday, Apr 4 at 6:41 PM

AUSTIN -- His best-selling chronicle of drinking and "hooking up" has sold more than a million copies, been turned into a movie, and earned Tucker Max both fame and infamy.

Recently a plan by the "I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell" author to publicize his latest book "Hilarity Ensues," as well as write off some taxes, has landed him in the middle of the national controversy over women's health.

The offer -- A $500,000 donation to Planned Parenthood in exchange for a clinic named after him.

"I'm pro-choice; I believe in their mission," Max told KVUE at his downtown Austin home. "When I was young, and poor, and stupid, there were more than a few times I had to go with girls to Planned Parenthood to deal with whatever various family planning issue came up, and thankfully they existed."

Max says the organization seemed interested at the beginning, but on the way to Dallas to meet with executives and sign the check, Planned Parenthood abruptly changed its mind and refused the money.

"They didn't just cancel the lunch, they just said 'We don't want your money,'" said Max. "And then that was sort of the end of it, I guess."

That was last August, and it may have ended there until a Forbes blog post by his publicist Tuesday sparked off a frenzy of Internet outrage. Blogs and comments defending Planned Parenthood's decision called the move a "publicity stunt" and Max a "career misogynist," pointing to derogatory remarks Max himself has repeatedly made about both women and Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood responded by referring KVUE to their policy on gifts, which states, in part: "Planned Parenthood reserves the right to decline offers of gifts and grants that may be discriminatory, are for purposes outside of our mission, or are too difficult to administer."

Max argues his over-the-top comments are intended to be humorous, not hurtful.

"I make jokes about myself; it doesn't mean I don't like myself," said Max. "I've made jokes about Planned Parenthood and about abortion because that's a funny subject. That's a place that comedians go a lot of times to make jokes. Daniel Tosh does it. Sarah Silverman does it. Everyone makes jokes about that because that's the way humor works."

Despite its disapproval of his work, Max believes Planned Parenthood could have done better if it had used the donation as a public relations move on its part.

"They could even say something like, 'We're in such dire financial straits because of Governor Perry and the federal government's actions that we have to take this money from someone whose jokes we don't like or agree with,'" said Max. "That's okay."

If the Internet response is any clue, many are taking Planned Parenthood's side, calling Max's attempted donation and his publicist's writing about it "disgusting and transparently self-serving."

Max is insistent his desire to help fund women's health isn't a joke.

"I am absolutely against cutting government funding to Planned Parenthood clinics and things like that. I agree with them in every way, and I was trying to not just agree but actually show my support in a real way," said Max. "I'm still on that side. I'll never not be on that side."

Like his books, it ultimately comes down to whether or not you buy it. 

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