The increasing lunacy taking place in Tennessee symbolizes what is happening the the Republican Party across the nation as the open embrace of ignorance and anti-gay bigotry - and I'd add racism - become the pillars of the Party's platform. Given what seems to be a continued exodus of rational people from the GOP (not that there are that many left to begin with) one has to wonder where it will end. One also has to wonder what companies and businesses will want to relocate to states that are so increasingly out of the mainstream. A column in the New York Times looks at the phenomenon. Here are highlights:
Wishing doesn’t make it so, but don’t tell that to the Tennessee Legislature. It seems determined to lead the nation in yearning for an era when Genesis was the last word on science, when there were no gay people and nobody engaged in non-marital sex, so there were no teenage pregnancies and no unwanted children.
There was no such time, of course. But that doesn’t seem to deter the Republican majority, which has brought us such modern wonders as a bill to protect teachers who preach the “scientific weaknesses” of “biological evolution, the chemical origins of life, global warming and human cloning,” and a bill that would prohibit elementary and middle school teachers from mentioning the existence of homosexuality.
And now they have sent a bill to Gov. Bill Haslam that would bar sex-ed teachers in public schools from promoting “gateway” sexual activity. . . . This bill is a disaster in the making: It relies on the definition of sexual activity in state law, which includes any contact with even the clothed inner thigh of another person. Critics say it’s so vaguely written that if a teacher doesn’t stop a student from sitting in another person’s lap, he could face punishment.
But don’t get the wrong idea. Tennessee’s Republican legislators know the government can only do so much to enforce morality. Last year, they revised an anti-bullying law so as to exempt anyone who voices a religiously motivated belief.
Sure, said Rep. Jeremy Faison, a few teenagers committed suicide after getting bullied about their sexuality, but “they committed suicide because they were not instilled the proper principles of where their self-esteem came from at home.” We can’t continue to legislate everything,” he said.