There should be a law against laws like these.

May 19th, 2016

I was done with the Tennessee General Assembly for a bit, happy to write about barbecue and revisit smoky memories. 

When they shut down this year, we barely dodged the bathroom wars that North Carolina is currently fighting and limited our bigotry to counselors rather than the blanket bigotry Mississippi just adopted and, even though I know it’ll all come up again next session, I was thankful for small favors.

Then the legislators and lobbyists started giving each other accolades and awards for the messes they’ve made, and I just had to get my Nashville on again.

Statistically, you and I are much more likely to be struck by lightning while in the next door bathroom stall to a transgender person who just committed voter fraud, or being bitten by a rabid skunk while sitting between an outraged counselor or therapist and a same-sex couple carrying concealed weapons in a college chapel pew than we are to fall victim to anything the legislature has proposed or passed laws to protect us against.

Meanwhile, Tennessee continues to discriminate against, well, pretty much anybody who’s different from the straight, white, middle-aged, insured, male Christian members of the Tennessee General Assembly.

And so it goes.

As published in The Memphis Daily News, May 20, 2016, and in The Memphis News, May 21-37, 2016



The old joke goes this way:

Every morning on the commuter train to work a man watches another man read his paper, meticulously folding every page to a single column width, then unfolding and refolding as he reads each column top to bottom. Finally, unable to stand it anymore, the first approaches the second and asks, “Why do you do that?” “It keep elephants off the train,” comes the reply. “That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever heard,” says the first man. “See any elephants?” asks the second.

We have a supermajority of elephants in the Tennessee General Assembly.

Take rampant voter fraud. Please. You know, the Tennessee law that protects us from the threat of in-person voter fraud by requiring state-issued photo ID to vote – you know, the law that makes it much harder for the old, the young and the poor to vote. In 2012, a Carnegie-Knight Initiative studying election fraud in all 50 states all the way back to 2000 found a total of ten cases of voter impersonation nationally, one in every 15,000,000 prospective voters, .00000006666667%. In Tennessee, the number from 2000-2012 was zero.


Take the legions of morally compromised counselors and therapists now saved. Please. You know, the Tennessee law made by the self-righteous to isolate and stigmatize those they deem less righteous – a law that would allow counselors to refuse to counsel those different from themselves – a law both moronic and oxymoronic. On what planet was this a problem?


Take how much safer we feel now that our professors are armed. Please. You know, the Tennessee law that puts guns on state college campuses – a law that every college president opposed, that every police chief and everyone charged with campus security advised against, that they all warned would increase not decrease the danger. We just gave the NRA a seat in our college classrooms, right between their BFF’s – intimidation and fear. And Rep. Andy Holt of Dresden promises to keep loading legislation until everybody is armed everywhere. Mr. Holt isn’t half-cocked; he’s completely cocked.


Take the Tennessee laws made by men telling women how to manage their pregnancies and their bodies. Please. You know, the laws codifying sanctimonious, judgmental lectures and closing clinics while denying affordable healthcare insurance to 280,000 working Tennesseans and affordable healthcare to everyone.


We debate legislation regulating the safety of skunks as pets, but do nothing about regulating gun safety in homes. While there is no record of the skunk threat to children, a recent Commercial Appeal story quoted a study from last year showing that toddlers shoot themselves or somebody else about once a week nationally – 23 and counting so far this year.

That stinks.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about the legislature mercifully shutting down thinking I could give it a rest until the herd returns, but then they had a celebration trumpeting their year, another year of elephants.

I’m a Memphian, and before we celebrate we need real solutions to real problems.


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