I am sure that today's “Stevo over-reacts to a socially conservative idea” post is going to offend a lot of people who read it. And if you are one of those people who are easily offended, I suggest you just stop reading.
Because this proposed "Missouri Prayer Amendment" is just about the most ridiculous thing our well intentioned religious friends in these parts has ever tried to jam down our throats. And considering we live in a region of the country where a state school board said "no, no way, no how, never!" to teaching evolution as a credible scientific theory on multiple occasions, that's saying something.
The sponsor of this piece of proposed amendment is a representative from Odessa named Mike McGhee. If you listen to Rush or Radioactive at all (and I do pretty much every day), then you get bombarded by this gentleman’s ad in favor of this amendment at least once an hour. The man ... I'm sorry folks, I’m trying to be polite here, but the man is bat sh*t crazy. He actually believes "liberal politicians and animal rights activists" are "conspiring" to “destroy our families” and to "destroy our way of life"*. Yeah, because the Humane Society of Kansas City is certainly scheming to stop Missouri farmers from being able to sell beef on the free market.
(*: those exact phrases are used in his radio advertisement seeking your vote next Tuesday. Missouri: now officially every bit as screwed up as Kansas!)
He’s running for the state Senate, and apparently the entire basis for his campaign is this amendment. He mentions no accomplishments from his tenure in the state House of Representatives, mentions nothing about what he’s done to prop the economy up, what he’s done to secure funding for his district, nothing – except that for five straight years, he sponsored this “Missouri Prayer Amendment”, and I’m guessing that after attempt number five, Republican leadership grew so sick of his one-idea tenure that to simply shut him up, they agreed to put the referendum on the ballot.
(Something I am fine with, by the way. If the people of this state genuinely believe a "war on prayer" is the greatest challenge or obstacle or idea in this 2012 election cycle, then let's have a vote. That's the beauty of democracy -- what I think is the most important issue (THE ECONOMY), someone else disagrees with entirely. I love this country ... even if we do sometimes pander to the looniest amongst us.)
Anyways, in today's Star, there was an article outlaying what this proposed amendment to our state's constitution means for us, the apparent targets of liberal extremists who mean us only evil, harm, and irrepairable damage. For your reading pleasure and my own sanity, I intend to respond to it, Stevo style.
(As always, that means the article will appear in italics, and my comments will appear in normal font, usually prefaced by my initials to indicate I am, uuh, commenting. And the article can be read in its entirety, without my response, by clicking on this link.)
Here we go.
Missouri "Right to Prayer" Amendment Sparks Debate
by Jason Hancock, the Star's Jefferson City correspondent
"When Missouri voters cast ballots on the so-called "Right to Pray" amendment to the state's constitution, they'll be deciding whether students should be able to opt out of school assignments that they think run counter to their religious beliefs.
"Yet that's not spelled out on the August 7 ballot."
sk: of course it's not spelled out. Because if people actually read this piece of crap proposed amendment, they'll conclude -- correctly -- that this is one gigantic stinking piece of crap. This is nothing more than your typical right wing scheme to get voters to the polls. We see it every two years, and it's as predictable as anything the Democrats do -- (1) religious right is worried their candidate will be identified as an escapee from the loony bin, so (2) they manufacture some "social cause that causes moral outrage" to rally their people and get them to vote. Usually the evil "boogeyman" is gay marriage. This year, they've apparently decided on those "evil liberal politicians attempting to outlaw prayer" as the "key issue" to be voted on.
You know, because 15.2% unemployment, $15.98 trillion (and climbing) in national debt, and 48.3% of the populace living on income provided by the federal government, those CLEARLY are not the "key issues" of the 2012 election cycle.
"To its supporters, the amendment enumerates rights already in the US and Missouri constitutions, and forces government and public schools to respect religious liberty."
sk: is there anyone drawing breath in this nation that believes those rights AREN'T respected by the government and public schools? (Note I did not say the courts. You can argue (albeit erroneously) they don't care much for your right to pray, but that's beside the point.)
I'm being quite serious here -- is there ANYONE, ANYWHERE in this nation, who has been arrested for saying a prayer, for attending Mass, for preaching the word of God, whatever God that word might be about? Are our prisons overcrowded with people persecuted for their faith, imprisoned for their religious beliefs?
No, really, once again -- I'm asking this with all due sincerity. Can you identify a single person currently being held behind bars because he or she said a prayer before eating dinner, or being systematically tortured for preaching moral certainty to their children? This ... I'm telling you people, crap like this offends the hell out of me. This is nothing more than a pathetic "rally the base" exercise. (As if the base isn't sufficiently fired up to fire President Obama 99 days from now.) Good God. Even God has to be looking down from heaven and shaking His head in abject disgust at what the religious right will do in His name to win an election.
And I say that as someone ready to vote yesterday for Mr. Romney. No, really guys, it's people like me who are going to decide this election. And when the sensical 20% sees garbage like this? You tend to offend us, and drive us to the opposition's camp.
"To its critics, the amendment poses a problematic fix for something that isn't broken, and ultimately could open school curricula to theological negotiation."
sk: great, just great, that's exactly what this country needs -- teaching religion to eight year olds. Because clearly, we've done such a GREAT job teaching basic science, math, and reading skills, that teachers have plenty of time on their hands to teach about Job's hardships.
I mean it -- this crap INFURIATES me. Mainly because:
"Both sides agree the final say probably will be made by the courts."
sk: and boom goes the dynamite. Rep. McGhee and his fellow supporters of this waste of paper are conceding that "yeah, we probably have crafted a law here that stands a decent shot of being sued to prevent its implementation, which will force us to piss away hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars defending the coming lawsuits -- taxpayer dollars we don't have, and refuse to tax anyone to raise. But hey, lookie -- prayer! Those evil liberal politicans are going to beat you like a government mule if you dare to bow your head in reverence to a higher power! So vote early, vote often!!!"
What a disgrace.
"Last year, lawmakers approved a proposed change to Missouri's constitution they said was aimed at prohibiting government or school officials from adopting policies to prevent prayer in public places, as long as the prayer does not result in disturbance of the peace or disruption of a public meeting or assembly.
"The summary that will appear on the ballot asks voters whether the constitution should be amended to ensure:
* That the right of Missouri citizens to express their religious beliefs shall not be infringed.
* That school children have the right to pray and acknowledge God voluntarily in their schools.
* And that all public schools shall display the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution.
"The summary goes on to say a "no" vote will not change the current constitutional provisions protecting freedom of religion."
sk: wait, what? Let me get this straight, because I am kind of slow, and am not often accused of possession a high level of intelligence. What the supporters of this amendment want me, as a citizen of the state of Missouri, and as a registered voter to boot, what these people want me to do is vote yes on an amendment -- not a bill, a freaking AMENDMENT to the constitution -- that does absolutely nothing at the end of the day, because as the language of the proposed amendment notes, these rights said amendment is seeking to institutionalize into the Missouri governing documents, ALREADY EXIST IN SAID GOVERNING DOCUMENTS!
We're wasting thousands of dollars to hold a vote -- and then potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars to defend a victorious outcome -- on something that is already legal?!?!?! We're going to tell the single mother of three whose boyfriend just beat the crap out of her "sorry chica, no room at the shelter tonight -- we had to cut out a few beds so that people can vote on whether or not we're going to allow them to pray". Well, why not -- after all, there was no room at the inn for Mary and Joseph, why should there be room at Newhouse or some other worthwhile organization for that poor, desperate mother of three.
That's what this piece of legislative garbage does -- it's taking money far better spent elsewhere, and pisses it away on drafting ballots, campaigns, and language to hold a vote on something that's already a protected right. THIS is responsible governing? THIS is a good idea? THIS is what conservatives genuinely believe that, unless it passes, their way of life is threatened in some way, shape, or form?
I'm outraged. I am outraged at this worthless waste of money, paper, and ink. And anyone with a conscience, to say nothing of having an IQ higher than room temperature, should be enraged by this ridiculous exercise as well.
"Supporters and critics agree that the right to pray in public is already enshrined in the US constitution and Missouri constitution."
sk: then why the f*ck are we voting on this? Other than pathetic pandering to the base -- a base which, again, if you believe even 2/1000ths of what the mainstream media reports, it's a base that is FOAMING AT THE MOUTH to fire Barack Obama. This isn't 2004, where a beleagured incumbent who probably deserved to be fired, had to motivate his base into showing up to defeat the "evil" John Kerry and the "frightening" John Edwards. (OK, fine -- John Edwards is "frightening", in addition to "corrupt", "sleazy", "reprehensible", "pathetic", and "morally bankrupt".)
Again, I ask a simple question: why are we holding a vote on something that's already a protected right at both the state AND the federal level? What am I missing here? Better yet, what are we as taxpayers missing out on because funding for legitimate needs has to be shifted to hold a vote on, and then legally defend, this proposed amendment? How can ANYONE behind this monstrocity look at themselves in the mirror and not immediately feel a sharp desire to hit their knees and repent to their God and their citizenry for their outrageous waste of the public dollar?
And yes, they currently have that right! The right to hit their knees and pray for forgiveness! Which is what they should be doing. Instead ...
"But state representative Mike McGhee, an Odessa Republican who sponsored the amendment for five years, said many people were unaware of their rights."
sk: ok, forget for a moment that this "right" we're going to be voting on in a week, is already a "right" we possess. Even suspend reality for a second and conclude, like Mr. McGhee has, that the random citizen living in Missouri is so stupid, so clueless, so utterly bereft of an ounce of common sense or intelligence, that said dumb, mentally challenged voter not only makes the retarded horse on "Family Guy" look mentally sharp, but that dumb, mentally challenged voter needs a benevolent, well-intentioned person like Mike McGhee to inform them of what their rights are.
(dana wright voice) For the love!
(For those of you who don't listen to "Radioactive" ... well you should. (2-6pm every day on 98.1 and 980.) For those of you who do, yup -- take a drink! For. The. LOVE! (gulp). OK, fine, we're fair and balanced here. (scott parks voice) Gimme a break! (gulp).)
Here's my question -- again, assuming you share Mr. McGhee's belief that the average person walking around the state of Missouri is a dumb f*ck moron: WHY DO WE NEED AN AMENDMENT TO TELL US WHAT OUR RIGHTS AS CITIZENS ARE?!?!?!
Why are we pissing away time, effort, and money on something designed to simply INFORM people of what they already have the right to do? What sensible person amends the governing document of the state simply to let average Joe know "hey dude, you can pray! No, really -- it's like legal and all!"
I'm telling you, this bill so enrages me, I'm halfway stunned I've only dropped the f bomb twice so far in this post. This is such a f*cking waste, this is so f*cking stupid, that you ... well, you'd have to be as f*cking stupid as Mike McGhee thinks you are, to actually vote yes on this insanity. (And I just more than doubled the f bomb output! Is this post f*cking great or what!)
"We're just trying to get the word out", McGhee said. "You have the right to pray at a city council meeting, a football game, or a school board meeting as long as you don't disturb anyone else."
sk: is there seriously, and again, I am slow and, at least in Mike McGhee's eyes, am mentally retarded and completely incapable of actually reading the damned constitution on my own to see what's in there, but in all seriousness, is there ANY person above the age of three, with an IQ north of 20, who actually DOESN'T know they possess that right? The right to pray?
So why in the hell do we need a damned amendment to the constitution to simply INFORM us that, yes Toto, you can put your hands together, bow your head, close your eyes, and thank Jesus for the Filet-o-Fish you're about to consume? What kind of person thinks THIS is an effective way of stating the obvious?
If you want to simply "get the word out", that it's OK to do as the Good Word instructs you to, and say "thank you God" for whatever happens in your life, why is THIS the way you have to employ to get the word out? Why couldn't a simple press release, press conference, or sh*t, a flyer mailed to your constituents (again, on our dime!) work?
I mean, certainly you've heard right? There's no need to "get the word out", Mike, because EVERYONE has heard.
That the bird is the word!
(Come on, I couldn't resist. Admit it, you just laughed out loud. You're welcome.)
"Left out of the summary that will appear on the ballot, however, is a provision that say no student "shall be compelled to perform or participate in academic assignments or educational presentations that violate his or her religious beliefs."
sk: we already have a system in place for handling things like this, Mikey. It's called a parental consent form! As Swoozie Kurtz noted in the opening scene of "Cruel Intentions": "Christ! How could you be so stupid!"
If you have children sir, I'm sure at some point in time in your existance on this planet, you've had to sign your name on said parental consent form. Schools all across the state of Missouri utilize them.
Furthermore, if you don't want your kid hearing something being taught in his or her school? Like, say, you think your little junior is incapable of being taught sex education by anyone other than yourself? Then you have the right, as a parent, to yank your kid out of the school and either enroll him or her elsewhere, or teach little Johnny or Sally yourself!
My God, when did we become so stupid as a public as to fall for tactics like this? Or worse yet, since when did we become so clueless as an electorate, that we need "brave heroic politicians" like Mike freaking McGhee to tell us how best to raise our kids? Or worse yet, since when did we become so incapable of an intelligent thought or opinion, that it falls on "brave heroic politicians" like Mike freaking McGhee to make every decision for us?
THIS ... is why I am dreading voting for Romney in 99 days. Because with the good (he actually gets economics 101), you get the bad (a boatload of politicans like Mike McGhee running the country).
"Susan German, president of the Science Teachers of Missouri, said the amendment could have a major impact on the teaching of certain topics in classrooms around the state.
"It is evident that some of the major areas of concern include teaching the age of the Earth, evolution, or climate change in the science classrooms," German said in a letter to the organization's 450 members. "While this may not be a direct attack, it certainly opens the door."
sk: wait a second -- let me make sure I read this properly.
Ms. German is concerned about a potential erosion of teaching credible, universally recognized scientific standards, so what does she do? Does she, I don't know, spend five f*cking years crafting an amendment to the state constitution, to address a problem that doesn't exist? Or does she do what any sensible person would do, and, oh, for sh*ts and giggles, she enunciates her thoughts in a flyer?
THAT, Mr. McGhee, is how you address a potential problem that doesn't exist, even though you believe it does -- you detail your concerns in a mailing to your followers, and make sure the major media outlets are informed of said concerns. Hell, you can schedule a presser to boot, if anyone in the media can stop laughing at you long enough to show up and cover said presser.
You do NOT hijack the damned constitution and waste thousands of dollars on a stupid amendment that accomplishes nothing, other than making trial lawyers in Jeff City a boatload of money!
"German said her organization had not taken a formal stand on the amendment, but it is urging its' members to go beyond the summary to fully understand potential ramifications."
sk: uh oh, don't let Mike McGhee know that. He doesn't want his supporters reading this proposed ridiculousness, he just wants them to know that he's defending their right to pray over the Happy Meal they're about to enjoy. He wants to make sure you know that he's "standing up!" to the evil boogeymen who apparently want to take your Bibles, cut off your hands, and take a guillotine to your head if you dare to make a religious expression in their sight.
The religious right and its snake-oil salesmen disgust me even more than the sleazy corrupt "reverends" MSNBC trots out on a regular basis to race-bait the masses. (I'm looking squarely at you, Jesse and Al.)
"You can't put the entire amendment in the summary, but letting students opt out of assignments is a pretty big change," said Anthony Rothert, the legal director for the ACLU of eastern Missouri. "I don't know if voters will know that this is what they're voting for."
sk: well this is positive -- it's still a week until we vote on this damned thing, and the ACLU is already pointing out the flaws it plans to sue over. In the words of James Petigru the night South Carolina seceded from the Union: "you fools don't know what you've done".
Even better -- did I read this right? This amendment is so damned long that it can't fit on a ballot? I notice as part of this amendment that Mr. McGhee and his supporters want to post the Bill of Rights in every classroom. Mr. McGhee, have you ever READ the Bill of Rights? Because EVERY LAST ONE OF THEM could fit on a f*cking ballot!
"McGhee said his intent wasn't to allow students to opt out of a class on evolution, but rather to give students a chance to take a class "on Buddha or Islam, or for a Muslim kid to be able to say he won't take a class on Christianity if he feels it contradicts his faith. I want to make sure a student knows he can bring his Bible to study hall if he chooses."
sk: what moron doesn't already know he or she has the right to do that? And while it's been nearly 20 years since I was last in a classroom, I don't recall public schools teaching classes on Christianity, or any religion for that matter, that is a mandatory course ... so how does this allow some Muslim kid to get out of taking said class on Christianity, considering said mandatory course doesn't even exist?!?!?!? FOR. THE. LOVE! (gulp.)
And don't even get me started on the fact that study hall should be used to, I don't know, STUDY the damned curriculum you're being taught, not read about Jonah living in a whale for a couple days. GIMME A BREAK! (gulp.)
"If the curriculum of a school results in conflicts with the constitutional amendment, McGhee said, "why not just change the curriculum so that it will be pleasing to all students?"
sk: here's a thought: if a proposed constitutional amendment creates more trouble than problems that it solves, why not scrap the damned thing and come up with something that doesn't create confusion, doesn't lead to parents taking on teachers, and doesn't ensure a nasty protracted lawsuit from the ACLU and other like-minded organizations and parents, lawsuits that will cost the state in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, money the state doesn't have? (And can't raise either, because after all, all tax increases are evil, and must be opposed before they're even announced, let alone debated on their merits.)
Here's a thought, Mike: how about you take your damned amendment, and shove it where it belongs -- in the trash recepticle with the rest of today's garbage?
"Kerry Messer, president of the Missouri Family Network, dismissed concerns that the amendment would have dramatic impact on lesson plans.
"Will somebody try to opt out of a class over something like evolution? Probably so," he said. "But I don't see the courts applying the amendment that way at all. This is only about religious liberty. If a Christian student is told they must kneel and bow east in a mock Islamic prayer to sensitize students of the Muslim community, that student can refuse to participate."
sk: where exactly is this forced kneeling to Muhammed actually being practiced in Missouri, Mr. Messer? Provide me with just ONE documented instance where this occurred within our state, sir. Just ONE documented occurrance. And where in the hell are students in Missouri public schools being forced to pray to a God other than their own, Mr. McGhee? Where?
And what responsible adult, regardless of their views on evolution*, what sane, rational, responsible parent would choose to not expose their child to the accepted scientific theory of the day as to how we came to exist?
(*: I personally believe in creation, believe it or not. The idea that one cell mutated over trillions of years into everything we see around us, is patently absurd. Having said that, you are a failure as a parent if you don't at least expose your child to the prevailing scientific beliefs of the day. After all, the most ardent supporter of "the earth is flat" for 1500 years ... was the Church. It took those "liberal activists" in Spain giving that "animal rights crusader" Christopher Columbus a couple boats and some cash to find out that, well, golly gee whiz Beaver, we was wrong about the earth being flat! I know, that's over the top. Sorry.
But I do believe that you are an abject failure as a responsible adult if you intentionally deny your kids exposure to what most of the world believes to be scientific fact. Because sometimes, what YOU believe in, as a person of faith, is 100 percent wr ... wr ... wr ... possibly incorrect. Oh, and sometimes? That guy wearing a frock behind your pulpit is a child molester the Church refuses to hold accountable for his crimes. Why I refuse to attend Mass 101 -- don't call me a sinner when person calling me a sinner, is committing the most horrific crime imaginable.)
What truly frightens me, isn't the Pandora's box this amendment is going to open, and it isn't even that people like Mike McGhee think the voting public is so stupid, so ignorant, so completely clueless, that they need an amendment to inform them of their most basic of rights. What truly frightens me, is that enough people in this state ARE so stupid, ignorant, and clueless, that they're going to vote for this thing because they think it's a good idea. THAT is what frightens me -- that we really are as mentally retarded as Mike McGhee and others like him believe us to be. Prove me wrong Missouri.
Please -- prove me wrong.
"Gregory Lipper, senior ligitation council for the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, said the measure's language is so broad that noone knows for sure what its impact might be.
"In trying to solve a made-up problem, this amendment generates a flood of legalese," he said. "It adds more fine print to the Missouri constitution than you'd find in the typical apartment lease".
sk: "it adds more fine print than you'd find in a typical apartment lease". This brought to you courtesy of the folks who scream bloody murder 24/7/365 (or this year, 366!) about getting government "off of our backs" and "out of our lives".
The party of "don't you dare tell me how to live ... unless you're pregnant, because us old white guys know more about your vagina than you do, missy! We demand you vote for this amendment to guarantee our already God-given and government-supported right to pray ... but you gay people, hell no you don't have the right to marry like we do, or adopt kids, or even to draw breath, goddammit, because you're a sinner, and sinners deserve to die!"
OK, fine, that was a little over the top ... but in all seriousness, why is it that the party of limited government (a concept I strongly support, by the way), why is it these people always demand that government legislate morality?
Steve Rule 42: You cannot legislate morality. You can, however, legislate insanity. The religious right will always attempt to do both.
Why is it they demand freedom of religion for themselves, yet if you happen to not share their faith or beliefs, you're a subhuman person who deserves none of the protections they're afforded?
Again, I personally am not a religious person. I have no use for religion, frankly. Another Steve Rule: religion is the the cause of 95% of the world's problems, and the solution to none of them.
But if you are a person of faith? That's great. I am all for your right to believe as you want to believe. All I ask is that you afford me, and others who think like I do, the same rights you seize for yourself. Amendments such as this one? Don't accomplish that purpose. In fact, this amendment does the exact opposite of that -- it seeks to force what your view of freedom of religion is, on me.
And I don't appreciate that.
"The only thing that's certain, Lipper said, is that the amendment will result in a "flood of long and costly lawsuits" at taxpayers' expense.
sk: perhaps Mr. McGhee can pray for a treasury windfall to pay for the defense of this amendment. Because if even $0.01 of current revenue in the state treasury is spent to defend this atrocious idea, Mr. McGhee should resign and return to private life.
"Messer, however, said he doesn't expect a significant change in the number of lawsuits, but rather a change in the way a governing body makes decisions. He contends that instead of being solely motivated by the fear of being sued for allowing religious observances in schools or other public venues, now government officials will have to contend with the threat of a lawsuit if they curtail those activities.
"This amendment," Messer said, "turns the tables."
sk: stop the tape. Where, pray tell, are government officials denying access to public buildings to folks of faith? That, like banning personal, unobtrusive prayer, is COMPLETELY unconstitutional, as the Supreme Court has found time and again.
Yet another "problem" this amendment "solves" that actually not only is not a problem, it is a problem that simply doesn't exist.
"If the amendment passes and problems arise --"
sk: and if it does, they will.
" -- the Legislature can always go back and make corrections, said McGhee, who is running for State Senate."
sk: no they can't! My God, THIS is the most outrageous thing in this posting to date, that a freaking REPRESENTATIVE to the damned state house doesn't understand that you can't CORRECT language in an amendment!
This isn't a piece of legislation sir! It's an amendment to the state constitution! The ONLY way you can "go back and make corrections" to an amendment sir, is to pass ANOTHER amendment!
I swear -- the next time any of my conservative friends want to rip into me for something some liberal I like or support does? Fine, go ahead. But your side has elected at least one mentally challenged individual for at least five years running, and that individual is Mike McGhee, who doesn't understand the constitutional process, doesn't realize you can't "clean up the language" of an amendment, and genuinely believes that our kids are being forced to kneel in the direction of Mecca three times a day during this Ramadan month.
"But because the measure is an amendment to the state constitution, any proposed changes that clear both the House and Senate would have to once again be placed on the ballot for the voters to ultimately decide."
sk: bango. That "liberal media" and their constitutional facts. When will they ever stop harassing us Christian folks?!?!
"North Dakota voters in June overwhelmingly rejected a proposed amendment to that state's constitution aimed at preventing government officials from implementing laws that could be considered an obstruction of the exercise of religion.
"In Missouri, however, even those opposing the prayer amendment concede it is likely to pass.
"It wouldn't surprise me at all if this passes overwhelmingly," said Rothert of the ACLU. "If you just read the summary, it seems like a real moderate proposal. The real action will come down the road, when lawsuits are filed by students trying to opt out of assignments."
sk: let this sink in, Missouri voters -- North Freaking Dakota voters had enough common sense not to fall for this half-wit idea. North. Freaking. Dakota. A state that hasn't voted a Democrat for President since FDR was still upright and ambulatory. A state that is so heavily conservative, the DNC doesn't even bother to campaign there, let alone send the Democrat ticket there. Even North Freaking Dakota saw this crap for what it is -- CRAP!
Are we, fellow Missourians, are we dumber as a citizenry than North Dakota? Are we as stupid as Mike McGhee believes we are, that we don't realize we have a right to pray in private, we have a right to practice our religious values as we see fit in the comforts of our environment? We'll find out a week from tomorrow.
And for what it's worth, my money is sadly on "yes, we is that damned stupid" ...