- Back in the day, if you wanted to locate the quintessence of American intolerance and backwardness, you had to look South—the deeper South, the better. But the Alabamas and Mississippis are now looking relatively fair-minded and rational compared to the nation's new standard-bearer of hatred and stupidity: once-moderate Kansas.
- This week's lead item from the one-time home of reasonable Republicans like Dwight Eisenhower and Bob Dole: a bill to legalize discrimination against gay couples passed the state house, and will likely soon become law.
- Not only would the bill let private business refuse service to gays and lesbians if such people offend their "religious beliefs", it would—even more shockingly—allow state government employees—ambulance drivers, for instance, or social-service workers—to do the same.
- The upshot, as Prospect alumnus Jamelle Bouie puts it, amounts to nothing short of "anti-gay Jim Crow."
- As Chris Johnson notes at the Washington Blade, the Kansas atrocity is part of a national trend in anti-gay activism: "As more states legalize same-sex marriage and efforts to pass a U.S. constitutional amendment prohibiting it have faded," he writes, the haters are increasingly turning to "religious exemption bills allowing for discrimination against same-sex couples."
- You can expect plenty of other state lawmakers to copy the Kansas bill. Which should come as no surprise by now: Whether it's anti-abortion ugliness, anti-immigration extremism, or dancing to the Koch brothers' tune, Kansas always seems to be on the leading edge of awfulness nowadays.
- It's all part and parcel of the "Kansas revolution" being led by faith-based Governor Sam Brownback and far-right lawmakers the Kochs spent hundreds of thousands to install in 2012.
- Brownback and Co. are making Kansas a heavenly place, indeed, for rich folk and corporations like Koch Industries—and hell on wheels for welfare recipients, women seeking abortions, immigrants, and people of color who want to vote.
- The governor is darn proud of such efforts, telling The New York Times that he hopes to build a model for other states to emulate: “We believe this is a strategy that builds a strong state in the future on the red state model."
- While it's tough to top a new Jim Crow regime, Kansas's Koched-up lawmakers are working feverishly to transform the state into even more of a national disgrace—sorry, red-state model for the future. Just this week, a House committee began discussing a resolution urging Congress to buck President Obama's efforts to combat climate change, declaring it a hoax. They're also busy nullifying the state education board's reading, math, and science standards—partly because they latter are dangerously "evolution-friendly."
- They're stripping local governments of their power to regulate guns.
- They've even declared "war on YMCAs," with a Republican donor-inspired bill that would make the organization pay sales taxes, adding 10 percent to its membership fees.
- Meanwhile, a voter ID lawsuit spearheaded by Kansas's attorney general, anti-immigration zealot Kris Kobach (author of the notoriously racist laws in Arizona and Alabama, among others), headed to court this week. Along with Arizona, Kansas is asking that the federal government require those registering to vote to show a passport, birth certificate, or other proof of citizenship.
- Less-insane Kansas Republicans—along with the state's put-upon Democrats—are raising a ruckus about the loony-toon turn their state is taking. Even so, with Brownback likely to win re-election in November, and with old-school Republicans like Senator Pat Roberts being assailed by the Tea Party—and forced to move to the right—Brownback's revolution isn't likely to peter out any time soon.
- In fairness to Kansas, however, the state did give sane Americans one thing to cheer about this week: likeable farmer and Olympic competitor Katie Uhlaender. It's pure coincidence, no doubt, that her sport—skeleton, in which competitors hurl face-first down the ice at 80 mph—is pure, unadulterated, batshit crazy.
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