In a post earlier this week, the irreverent national political website Wonkette.com labeled the Tennessee state legislature "the world's stupidest imaginable governing body." (See this week's cover story for more on the subject.) Wonkette has taken several (well-deserved) shots at our lawmakers in recent months, but this latest insult came on the heels of the news that several of Tennessee's GOP lawmakers had decided to sign on to a lawsuit demanding that President Obama reveal his birth certificate.
Frankly, it is hard to imagine a stupider and more pointless course of action for supposed adults to undertake. Obama provided a copy of his birth certificate online in June 2008, and it was judged authentic by Hawaii state officials. His birth announcement was in the Honolulu paper in 1961. His mother is American (which makes him a citizen if he wasn't born in the U.S.). State health records list his birth. Do these wackos really think that in 1961 there was a plot afoot to fool the American public 47 years later?
It comes as no surprise that one of the signees is Representative Stacey Campfield (R-Wacktown), whose inability to get a single bill passed in his four-year tenure is exceeded only by the ludicrousness of the bills he has proposed. These include bills to issue death certificates for aborted fetuses, to deny birth certificates to children born of illegal immigrants (who are American citizens), to prohibit classroom teaching about the existence of homosexuality, to allow faculty to carry guns in classrooms, and to allow any veteran to carry a gun at all times, to name just a few.
And speaking of guns, it hasn't been a good week for The Commercial Appeal, which posted the state's searchable database identifying the name, address, and birth date of those with concealed-carry gun permits. After a storm of protest, much of it misguided (several gun-friendly websites posted the names and addresses of Commercial Appeal employees, the great majority of whom had nothing to do with management's decision to post the database), the CA removed the permit-holders' addresses and birth dates from its site but kept the list of names. That half-measure assuaged no one, drawing criticism from those in favor of keeping the posting (you weenies!) and those opposed to it (you fascists!).
The lesson: Aim carefully before shooting yourself in the foot. Twice.
In the 14 years I've been the Flyer editor, I've gotten lots of hate mail. It mostly used to come in envelopes filled with pages of scrawled handwriting. I read them and put them in the wastebasket, chalking it up as a natural by-product of writing for a liberal paper in the conservative South. Lately, the angry folks have switched to email, and it comes in waves ...