People with terrible, horrible, no good, very bad ideas
I have been noticing a whole lot of horrible ideas coming dangerously close to fruition. I think they come from people living in a bubble in which nobody has the freedom to stand up and ask, “Is it really a good idea to do this?” Take the following examples…
As if school isn’t hard enough for some folks…
Tennessee state Rep. Stacey Campfield (R) has a proposed a bill that would make welfare benefits reliant upon the academic performance of the children of welfare recipients. The bill would require a reduction of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families (TANF, or welfare) payments if so-called satisfactory standards are not met. I know the Right is all about Ayn Rand and personal responsibility, but now they want that responsibility to fall on children. Campfield’s bill would deduct $60 from a family that is receiving $185, based on a child’s ability to pass a test. Pressure for the child to perform accordingly would become tied to their family’s ability to stay financially afloat in the face of reductions.
“You had better nail that multiplication test, Jimmy. Or else the family won’t be eating tonight!” But no pressure.
Don’t try this at home (or anywhere else, for that matter)
Like so many Republican voters who believe way too much of what they hear on in Right Wing media and blogs, Roxanne Rubin was absolutely convinced that America has a serious voter fraud problem. The 56-year-old Nevada casino worker decided it would be awesome to put this notion to the test by actually voting twice — first at her home polling place in Henderson, and then a second time near her workplace in Las Vegas. Unfortunately for her theory, voter fraud is both easily detected and vigorously enforced. A Vegas poll worker did their job and searched the database, discovering that Rubin had already voted. A complaint was filed and now Rubin has discovered that voter fraud is neither common nor easy. In fact, it is a Class D felony in Nevada — just like involuntary manslaughter, forgery, and third-degree arson — and carries a prison sentence of 1 to 4 years with possible fines up to $5,000. Soon, Rubin was doing the perp walk.
Rubin’s lawyer tried the ol’ “it was just a test”-argument. He argued that Rubin had “zero intention of voting twice” when she attempted to vote a second time. The court wasn’t having it. Luckily for Rubin, the government mercifully offered her a deal to plead guilty to a lesser misdemeanor charge. Instead of serving jail time, she is to pay a couple grand in court costs, do 100 hours of community service work, take a mandatory “impulse control class,” and “promise to stay out of trouble.”
In other news, there’s such a thing as “impulse control class”?
PTSD… it’s not the abbreviation for a school district
A high school in the far northwest suburbs of Chicago will be conducting a school shooting drill that will include all the usual securing of the classrooms by teachers: locking of doors, closing of curtains, switching off of lights, and huddling in shadowy corners. While it’s kind of sad that this has to be done these days, it has to be done these days. But that’s not all they are doing. Someone thought it would be more awesome to raise the stakes a bit. So, this drill will feature something extra special for the kiddies: the sounds of gunshots as blanks are fired in the school’s hallways. Yes, nothing like a bit of post traumatic stress to round out the school day.
The sound of gun shots… in a high school… in a CHICAGO high school. Nobody saw a problem with this. Nobody?
Parent/teacher conferences on steroids
Tennessee state senator Stacey Campfield — sound familiar? Yes, it is the same person from the first story — has introduced a bill in the Tennessee senate. Not only does it forbid teachers from mentioning homosexuality as a thing that even exists, but it also now requires teachers who suspect a student might be gay to NARC on them to their parents. As in, they would be required by law to share their suspicions with the kid’s parents. Because both teaching and being a teenager aren’t hard enough. Now teachers must become detectors and policers of sexual identities, and students can expect this to shared with their parents.
And what, pray tell, are parents supposed to do with this information? Change their student? I would hope that most parents would look at the ratting teacher and nonchalantly reply, “Yeah, I know. So what? What business is that of yours?” But I also realize that this could create huge problems in some homes that are not as accepting.
A recent study shows that as many as 40% of homeless youth are LGBT, and the reason many are homeless is because their parents rejected them, either forcing them to leave or causing them to run away. Some of the students who face such rejection resort to substance abuse or suicide. And I would assume that many of these high school students are confused and anxious about what they are. They don’t even really know. But this bill would mandate the sophomore geometry teacher to do something about the slightly effeminate boy in the back of the class. I thought Tennessee was the “volunteer” state.
See Dick and Jane. See Dick pop a cap in Jane.
The Missouri state senate is considering a bill that would make it mandatory for all first graders in the state to take a gun safety-training course. And the NRA is footing the bill. Aren’t the Republicans afraid of the U.S. becoming a “nanny state” that thinks it is better at parenting your child than you are? Well, nothing like mandating that every first grader gets very familiar with handling a gun, no matter what you, as a parent, may think about guns. I don’t supposed we could counter that with a mandated course on tolerance for those same first graders. No, that would be going too far.
Ironically, Missouri is one of 29 states in the union that does not mandate sex education in school. So, it’s okay to learn gun safety in the first grade, but its not okay for high school students to learn about how to avoid disease and unwanted pregnancies. Could this be why Missouri teens have some of the highest rates of STDs in the country?
A ray of hope?
But fear not, I say. As depressing and ridiculous as these stories are, I believe they are local anomalies, part of what comes from isolated municipalities that are lacking in opposition parties and the free flow of ideas. They are living in their own little bubbles.
On the national side, I am cautiously optimistic that things are getting better. There seems to be the sprouting of a a new spirit of cooperation and negotiation, even if it is only because Republicans finally discovered that they have lost the popular vote in 5 of the last 6 national elections. Whether it is gun control, immigration, or the debt, log jams are breaking and things seem to be moving. This will likely last only until the GOP regains some confidence and thinks they can get out ahead of their skis once again, but for the time being, I’ll take it.
There’s even been a thawing of relations between Chick-fil-a and a gay activist. No, really. No matter where you side on this, you should read this. Rarely have I read a piece that treats both sides with such respect and dignity. It gave me some hope yesterday.
When you only work with the same people who talk and think exactly like you, you get ideas like I’ve highlighted here. Crazy and extreme becomes normal. Like Marilyn in The Munsters, you no longer realize how you look to the outside world.
It’s only by talking to people with different ideas and experiences can you come up with better ideas.