by Justin Robbins
If the past several days (even weeks) of politicking and conventioning have shown one thing, it is that the concept of statesmanship is dead. There is no market left in the American mind for reasoned debate, considered pragmatism, or ideological compromise. Regardless the issue, we demand our champions not only vanquish the opposition, but “take out their families” and give us three syllable chants with which to taunt any who dare question our methods.
Not surprisingly, the weapon of choice in the trenches of today’s political battlefields, seems to be the meme; a quip, quote or sound bite the user believes encapsulates every nuance of an issue in under 25 words. This is a tactic employed by all sides; whether you believe there’s a #WarOnChristianity, #WarOnLGBT, or you #JustNeedToPee. Most who deploy such devices tend to congratulate themselves for their cleverness and their immediate, decisive victory.
Another casualty of these times is intellectual honesty; lying mortally wounded at the feet of, among other tactics, the legislative pledge. A favored weapon of bullies and other special interest groups, the pledge is typically used in place of reasoned argument to extort favorable votes from elected officials. Case in point, the transgender bathrooms lawsuit issue, deftly misrepresented here by the non-prophet Montana Family Foundation (MFF).
You may have heard that Montana Attorney General Tim Fox recently drug Montana into a lawsuit over what the MFF calls a “directive” from the Obama Administration regarding bathroom use by transgender school children. What neither the MFF nor the sly Mr. Fox want you to know, is there was no directive issued. In the wake of North Carolina’s notorious HB2, which essentially codified Christian privilege and spawned a battalion of Teflon-coated bigots, President Obama’s Department of Education issued “guidance” for K-12 school districts navigating the transgender topic.
“Guidance”, however, is nowhere near juicy enough for the chronically persecuted. If your goal is to empathize with, or even emulate a guy who was literally crucified, you at least need to be “directed.” So, in the finest tradition of professional victims, Mr. Fox and the MFF charged to the front lines of an imaginary battle, and loosed the cannons; joining a 9 state lawsuit, and demanding our legislators pledge to it their support.
Montana tax payers will once again have their wagon hitched to the wrong side of history, while the self-appointed defenders of “traditional values” coerce our elected representatives to forfeit their independent, informed judgment in order to tilt at windmills. Perhaps, this actually is all we can expect from here on in; ill-informed, reactionary legislators too timid to stand up to naked emperors shouting distorted, bigoted absurdities.
For those who have not followed this story, or the above links, I’ll offer this summary: Governor Bullock fully supports local management of this issue; a status which has not been endangered by outside guidance. For those who need the meme:
“Bigotry is the disease of ignorance, of morbid minds; enthusiasm of the free and buoyant. Education and free discussion are the antidotes of both” – Thomas Jefferson