I’m sure my dear – and sadly neglected – readers will be pleased to know that during my self-imposed hiatus, I never actually stopped hunting down the latest nuttery that the religious right appears to be able to spout at will. However, the net effect of this is that I now have a folder on my PC that is so full of malevolent weirdness that I’m half expecting the gang from Warehouse 13 to burst through my door and dunk my laptop in a jar of purple goo. I hope they send Claudia when they do come, ‘cos I totally have an artifact that I’d like to… but I digress.
So, as the first month of 2013 draws to a close, I’ve decided it’s time to gird my loins, get my ass into gear and once again cast my jaundiced eye on the collective crazy out there… before I fall too far behind.
You see, if January is anything to go by, 2013 promises to offer a bumper crop of crazy. Just wading through my folder, I see we have the repulsive antics of the NRA and the Sandy Hook truthers; right-wing wailing over Obama’s re-election and the looming martial law he’s going to declare; gays being blamed for everything from Sandy Hook to hurricanes (again!); an African-American commentator on World Nut Daily using the Civil War as proof that states can secede without permission (you know, the war that was fought over releasing his ancestors from slavery); and Republicans continuing to make complete and utter fools of themselves. If they’re not plotting to change the election laws to ensure that they’ll never lose another election – because that’s easier than changing their policies and their complete disregard of and contempt for the electorate – they’re pondering if e.coli can evolve into humans, or plotting to charge rape victims who have an abortion with tampering with evidence -because an unwanted baby is clearly the only evidence of a rape that matters to them.
However, for this post I’m going to look at some proposed legislation currently before committee in Arizona. Now, before I continue I must just say one thing. As a foreigner, I find the whole Pledge of Allegiance thing a bit… weird. I have no problem with being patriotic and loving your country and your flag, but I find that daily chanting of the Pledge by schoolchildren a little creepy. I grew up in the dark days of apartheid, under a Christian Nationalist government, and even we didn’t have that kind of indoctrination. Ok, maybe “indoctrination” is a harsh word, but are people so paranoid that they insist you pledge your allegiance to the country every day? What happens over weekends, or during holidays? Do the kids set 5 minutes aside in their bedrooms to chant the Pledge, or do they become Godless Commies, until they get back into the classroom and can restore their faith in their country? It all seems a little weird – and somewhat creepy – to an outsider. And don’t get me started on the Bellamy salute…
However, leave it to batshit insane Republican legislators with too much time on their hands and taxpayers’ money to waste, to take the creepiness to a whole new level. State representative Bob Thorpe is proposing a Bill that would require children to “recite an oath supporting the U.S. Constitution” in order to receive a graduation diploma.
The full wording of the Bill (HB2467) reads:
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Arizona: Section 1. Title 15, chapter 7, article 1, Arizona Revised Statutes, is amended by adding section 15-701.03, to read:
15-701.03. Graduation requirement; constitutional oath
BEGINNING IN THE 2013‑2014 SCHOOL YEAR, IN ADDITION TO FULFILLING THE COURSE OF STUDY AND ASSESSMENT REQUIREMENTS PRESCRIBED IN THIS CHAPTER, BEFORE A PUPIL IS ALLOWED TO GRADUATE FROM A PUBLIC HIGH SCHOOL IN THIS STATE, THE PRINCIPAL OR HEAD TEACHER OF THE SCHOOL SHALL VERIFY IN WRITING THAT THE PUPIL HAS RECITED THE FOLLOWING OATH:
“I, _________, DO SOLEMNLY SWEAR THAT I WILL SUPPORT AND DEFEND THE CONSTITUTION OF THE UNITED STATES AGAINST ALL ENEMIES, FOREIGN AND DOMESTIC, THAT I WILL BEAR TRUE FAITH AND ALLEGIANCE TO THE SAME; THAT I TAKE THIS OBLIGATION FREELY, WITHOUT ANY MENTAL RESERVATION OR PURPOSE OF EVASION; AND THAT I WILL WELL AND FAITHFULLY DISCHARGE THESE DUTIES; SO HELP ME GOD.” (my emphasis)
Now, over and above the fact that he’s asking students to take the same oath government officials and people in the military take, there are a whole bunch of problems with this piece of insanity:
- How on earth can you have the phrase “take this obligation freely” in there, when the alternative to not taking the oath is not receiving your graduation diploma? There is nothing free about that – it’s out and out coercion.
- There are also no exceptions – unlike the Pledge, where students can opt out, with a letter from their parents. That means that people who are Jehovah Witnesses, or Muslim, or Quakers have a problem – because they are generally opposed to federal loyalty oaths on religious grounds.
- For that matter, what about atheists, who would clearly have a problem with the “So help me God” portion? Either they lie to graduate (which then falls foul of the “without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion” clause), or have their First Amendment rights trampled upon – ironically by the kind of moron who would be the first to claim he’s being persecuted, because homosexuals feel they deserve the same basic rights he enjoys. Add Buddhists to the mix, who also have no central “God” to ask for help. Will a Muslim kid be allowed to say “So help me Allah?” I doubt it – after all, we all know the God this moron has in mind – that blonde-haired, blue-eyed, rich Anglo-Saxon God of the Conservative Testament.
- What about foreign students attending school in Arizona? Will they be forced to renounce their citizenship, or just not graduate? Then again, given that they’re probably filthy liberals anyway, from countries with socialized medicine, I’m sure the Arizonan legislators would be happy to see the back of any foreigners. If a child of illegal immigrants says the oath, is he automatically a US citizen?
There is so much wrong with this proposed legislation. Quite possibly the worst being that it does absolutely nothing to actually promote or improve the quality of education in Arizona. It’s just the efforts of a little man to impose his beliefs on the populace at large. Of course, it’s easier to spout ineffectual crap like this, than dealing with actual problems.
Arizona has the highest drop-out rate in the US – 7.8% in 2009-2010, with a graduation rate of 74.7% – well below the national average of 78.2%. Graduation rates are the number of ninth graders who go on to graduate within four years. Then again, a dumb electorate is exactly what these people need in order to stay in power.
Added to this is the fact that Arizona also heads up the national list for the highest incidence of alcohol use, binge drinking, and cocaine use amongst its youth, not to mention access to drugs at school. Arizona schools ranked #1 for alcohol use, binge drinking, and for students who were offered, sold, or given drugs at school. They ranked #2 for cocaine use and drinking on school grounds. Hardly a pretty picture.
One would think that idiots like Thorpe would be far more concerned with these dire threats to the future of the country. However, tackling drop-out rates and drug problems is probably far beyond his mental capabilities. So instead of trying to improve his schools, the people who are in charge of fixing the education crisis are proposing solutions that would only waste more classroom time and exclude many students from graduating, despite fulfilling their current requirements.
Good to the Republicans have everybody’s best interests at heart, because nothing fixes a problem like more creepy chanting.