(The following is my latest post for Daily Kos.)
It wasn’t too many years ago that an unenlightened society hid them away from the world, shamed that God was punishing them by afflicting their family with such a disease.
When people spoke of them, it was in hushed whispers. “He isn’t quite right,” or some other such euphemism was used.
That shame of the past has not yet left us. In Missouri, we still have a place where the unwanted are sent, a place that we still speak of in hushed whispers, but only because we don’t use that kind of language.
A place filled with Boo Radleys without his redeeming social qualities.
We call it the Missouri General Assembly.
Some of them we place in the Senate. How else can you explain a Jane Cunningham?
For the most part, though, our Senate is more selective in who it allows in its doors. It is nothing like the House of Representatives.
It is the House, for instance, that gave us former Rep. Cynthia Davis, R-O’Fallon, a woman who became famous nationwide when she noted that hunger was a good motivator. “A starving child is a motivated child,” certainly a slogan to live by. After a failed attempt at moving into the State Senate, Mrs. Davis has now bolted the Republican Party and is running for lieutenant governor as a Constitution Party candidate.
Or how about former Rep. Ed Emery, R-Lamar, now a candidate for State Senate. Emery headed a committee that came to the startling conclusion that all of the state’s illegal immigration problems could be solved by eliminating abortion, since abortion was severely cutting back on our available workers. He included that in the committee’s final report, noting that it had come up in testimony before the committee. He neglected to note that it was his own testimony.
And you can’t forget soon-to-be speaker of the house Tim Jones, R-Eureka. This week, he told an interviewer on KMOX in St. Louis that he did not expect any legislative push in 2013 trying to keep people who were not born in the U. S. from becoming president. “I haven’t been pushing that,” he said. If that is the case, then why in the world is Jones’ name (along with the name of the aforementioned Cynthia Davis) among the plaintiffs in Orly Taitz’ birther lawsuit?
I mustn’t forget to mention Rep. Steve Cookson, R-Fairdealing, a former public schoolteacher and administrator who sponsored the “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which had it passed, would have provided an insurmountable obstacle for teachers trying to deal with bullying or even classroom discussions about issues like “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” or Steve Cookson’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill.
Following in the footsteps of those who have fought discrimination against African-Americans, Hispanics, women, and other minorities, Rep. Wanda Brown carried the banner for another group that she believes has been the victim of prejudice in the workplace- the owners of guns. Her HB 1621 says, "It will be unlawful employment practice to discriminate against an individual because he or she has a conceal/carry endorsement or uses a firearm for a lawful purpose." Somehow under clouds of paranoia she saw something happening that the rest of us have yet to see.
The latest to join what seems to be almost a contagion affecting the Missouri House is Rep. John McCaherty, R-High Ridge. Only a few days after Aurora movie theater shooter James Holmes murdered 12 people and injured 59 others during a midnight showing of Batman: The Dark Knight Rises, McCaherty, a minister, is raising money for his re-election campaign by raffling an AR-15, the same type of weapon that Holmes used to cut down 71 innocent people.
You would expect that when word got out that McCaherty, reportedly one of the few ministers in Missouri to sport an assault rifle, would have dropped the whole idea, realizing that it was a slap in the face to those who lost loved ones in the theater massacre. Not a chance. Instead, McCaherty, in a twisted way of looking at things, accused the media of being the ones who were offending the families and told his supporters not to talk to them. The following passage comes from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
"(T)he less attention we give them the quicker they move on to the next story," the email reads. "The families affected do not need the media beating them up, or drawing out the story anymore. So please....Do not answer any questions about the event at all."
The people I have named above are part of the hidden shame of Missouri, the people we speak about in hushed whispers. They are the people we keep sending to Jefferson City. Yes, it was obviously in poor taste for me to compare these far right-wing politicians with people who cannot help their illnesses. For that, I offer a sincere apology. But isn’t it time we found a more humane way to deal with these people who have a hard time fitting into polite society and make the House of Representatives truly the house of the people?
If these people truly are indicative of those they are supposed to represent, then Lord have mercy on us all.