Note to Michigan Voters:
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari.)
This is what a real Democrat and human being sounds like.
This is Michigan State Senator Gretchen Whitmer speaking out against the perverted "Matt's Safe Schools Law" that was turned inside-out by equally perverted Republicans in the Michigan state house. The bill passed on November 2nd in the higher chamber 26-11, a razor-sharp party line vote. All 26 Republicans voted for it, all 11 Democrats voted against it.
Essentially, the Republican scumbags in the state Senate took a bill that was supposed to prevent gay Michigan teens and other victims of bullying from committing suicide by removing the threat of bullying and to enforce the law at the school level.
But since your typical Michigan voter thinks the Republican Party has the right answer to everything, Rick Jones spearheaded the movement to pervert the language of the bill so that it will actually have opposite the desired effect as long as the bully has the presence of mind to whip out the Christ card and say that he beat the shit out of a gay student who would then commit suicide on religious and/or moral principles.
Obviously, this sets an extremely dangerous precedent not only in Michigan but in other states and even at the federal level. Because if a student is allowed to bully a fellow student to death with impunity solely on the grounds of religious and moral convictions (and what morality worth claiming would allow bullying?), then where do we draw the line? Are white kids supposed to be allowed to bully minorities and remain free of exaction for invoking white nationalist beliefs if the Aryan Brotherhood stuck their jackbooted foot in the door as has the AFA and its state chapters, the NRA, the Tea Party, Focus on the Family and a whole host of right wing lunatic fringe organizations?
After all, if immature homophobes now have the right to bully with impunity in Michigan, why not extend those special immunities to other students such as racists, jocks or atheists who may have a problem with Christian students? As Arizona's SB 1070 anti-immigration law and the austerity hysteria that's taken place from coast to coast has amply demonstrated, right wing agendas have a habit of acting like Texas drought fires.
It's homophobia at its finest. Rick Jones, you might know, is a member of the Michigan AFA, the most hateful bunch of bile-spattered, right wing cunts and dickless bullies this side of Westboro Baptist Church (email: SenRJones@senate.michigan.gov, phone # (517) 373-3447). The head of the Michigan AFA, Gary Glenn, actually said of the bill "it’s just a Trojan Horse to push the gay agenda."
Glenn, aside from looking exactly like the kind of person you see lurking around the peripheries of elementary schoolyards while pitching a tent in the front of his raincoat watching 6 year-old girls playing hopscotch, is of the impression that gays do not need protection or "special" protection, as he prefers to term it, simply because there aren't enough of them to care about.
Well, the same could be said of Mormons, who comprise roughly 2% of the US population yet successfully spearheaded and funded a homophobic agenda that overturned state law by repealing gay marriage in California with their Proposition 8 ballot measure. Statistics will never be accurate but I suspect that if all 300,000,000 of us were polled and gave completely truthful answers, you'd find that a significantly higher percentage than 2% would be classified as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered.
The almost ineffably despicable defense of the perversion of Matt's Safe Schools law is that homosexuals are not only given special protections that exclude straight kids (the bill never sought to do that) but that it's a way of indoctrinating straight kids into the homosexual agenda that's evil enough to seek to prevent the suicide of its youngest members.
There's so much that is fundamentally wrong with this line of thinking it's not even worth belaboring. We liberals and progressives and especially gays and bisexuals know damned good and well that you're born with your sexual orientation and that gays aren't seeking "special protections" but the same rights that everyone enjoys. And we also know damned good and well that if the LGBT community wasn't singled out for special persecution starting at the elementary school level, then gays and bis wouldn't need those "special protections", to begin with.
So Michigan State Senator Whitmer decided to let the right wing have it with both barrels on the floor of the State Senate in Lansing. It's gone viral and justifiably so.
Michigan blogger Chris Savage personally interviewed Senator Whitmer and she had this to say about Republican hypocrisy:
Today we passed a bill in the Senate that says the Pledge of Allegiance must be said in our schools every day. But, if a kid doesn’t want to participate, they don’t have to. They put a clause in the bill that says those kids can’t be bullied. So they were willing to put in a specific group of protected kids into that bill but not in their anti-bullying bill!
Senator Whitmer and Representative Jeff Irwin, both Democrats, are leading what would've a month or so ago been considered a Quixotic campaign to drastically revise the language in the House version of the bill. Hearing backlash they honestly didn't expect, Republicans suddenly wanted to "compromise" and reach across the aisle simply in the interests of gutting as much of the House version as they could get away with before torpedoing their incumbency.
Experts in semantics and refined through the bottomlessly contemptible contortions of spinmeister Frank Luntz, Republicans in the Michigan House want to water down the original intent as much as possible if not outright drown it. Now, instead of a student being protected from any degree of bullying that causes the slightest form of emotional, mental or academic distress, the burden of proof is then thrust upon the student with the simple insertion of the word substantially.
So, in the unlikely event the god bags in the state Senate pass it, it would be up to the student to prove that "educational opportunities, benefits, or programs" be substantially interfered with as well as "substantial emotional distress" inflicted on them, as well as "Causing substantial disruption in, or substantial interference with the orderly operation of the school." (Emphasis mine)
How orderly is a school supposed to remain when a student commits suicide and inviting the inevitable grief counselors that inevitably disrupts the school's curriculum?
Matt Epling, the student after whom the law was named, committed suicide nine years ago while he was still in the 8th grade. It's hard to see how orderly his school had remained when other children his age who had no real concept of death were told the news, at how guilty the members of the faculty must have felt on hearing the same news.
Rep. Irwin seems to have his finger on the pulse of the problem:
The second part of winning is what Irwin calls “the outside game” or winning elections. What’s critical for Democrats here, he says, is that they actually act like Democrats. Too many Democrats across the country are trying to lay low, take middle-of-the-road positions and try not to offend anyone so that they can be reelected. “What people want to see is them being real progressives,” he said. “They need to walk the walk, not just talk the talk, and tell folks what they’re really about.” If they do that, he said, “it will get people fired up and active at election time.
This squarely puts a lot of blame of the crime of enablement on spineless Democrats at both a state and federal level who consistently underestimate the size and power of the liberal/progressive voter base. And the voter base can also be blamed. Because when Democrats chafing under the liberal label see high profile Democrats such as Russ Feingold and Alan Grayson get unceremoniously tossed on the ash heap of history, they see that as an object lesson in the importance of keeping their liberal light under a bushel.
In short, Democrats are, ironically, afraid of being bullied by phantom hordes of evangelicals and Tea Baggers.
It never occurs to Democrats that if perhaps they consistently rail against Republican evil that perhaps it would resonate with a larger segment of their constituencies than they'd originally thought. It also never occurs to Democrats that the radical right wing never felt comfortable in the middle of the road and that they shamelessly suck up their splinter factions and lunatic fringes such as the Michigan AFA. It never occurs to them to "pander" to their own base even if we're on the side of the angels.
Except this time children such as Matt Epling and Jamie Hubley, the Canadian teen who'd slashed his wrists last month after being the victim of incessant bullying over his sexual orientation, are getting thrown under the wheels of the bus. But at the rate they're committing suicide, they may not even wait long enough for us throw them under.