By Heide Brandes
OKLAHOMA CITY (Reuters) - The Oklahoma Republican Party on Tuesday removed a Facebook post that compared people who receive food stamps to wild animals after it set off a social-media storm.
Titled a "lesson in irony," the post from Monday night says the U.S. government is proud that its food stamp program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, this year reached 46 million people.
"Meanwhile, the National Park Service, administered by the U.S. Department of the Interior, asks us 'Please Do Not Feed the Animals.' Their stated reason for the policy is because 'The animals will grow dependent on handouts and will not learn to take care of themselves,'" it said.
Oklahoma Republican Party Chairman Randy Brogdon said in a Facebook message on Tuesday the post was misinterpreted by many and he offered apologies to those who were offended.
"This post was supposed to be an analogy that compared two situations illustrating the cycle of government dependency in America, not humans as animals," he said.
The post had received over 1,000 "likes" on Facebook and loads of scathing criticism from those who say some of those who rely on food stamps are active military, the disabled, veterans and the elderly.
"Shame on you, OKGOP, for comparing children and families living in poverty to animals! Your lack of compassion and tact is embarrassing to the entire state," commented Liz Ragland of Oklahoma.
Solidly Republican Oklahoma ranks 15th in the nation in state food stamp participation rate, and the number of people there receiving benefits is rising, according to state data.
(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Lisa Lambert)