Like the groundhog emerging from his burrow, like a spring crocus pushing through the leaf litter, like the Carolina wrens that return each year to nest in my magnolia, Tennessee's legislators return to Nashville at the end of each January, dreaming of the great works of public service they will perform in the months to come. (See Jackson Baker's cover story)
Like most of their fellow Tennesseans, they are concerned with the great issues of the day: guns, gays, and God. This, after all, is the bunch that in prior sessions has proposed (and, in some cases, passed) legislation to forbid teachers from mentioning homosexuality to students younger than 8th grade; allowed guns to be carried into bars; protected students accused of bullying gays, if they did so for religious reasons; required the teaching of alternatives to the theory of evolution in science classes; approved "abstinence only" sex education that forbids the use of certain sex-related words — labeled the "gateway body parts" bill.
That list barely scratches the surface of the recent legislative activities of the group called "the world's stupidest imaginable governing body" by the political website Wonkette and ranked number one in Mother Jones magazine's list of "50 Worst State Legislatures."
The reigning clown prince of this circus is Senator Stacey Campfield of Knoxville, whose legislative proposals and anti-gay obsessions have drawn the regular attention of TMZ, Jay Leno, Stephen Colbert, Bill O'Reilly, AmericaBlog, and Huffington Post, to mention but a few.
Campfield, to put it kindly, does not appear to be a rocket surgeon. His blog, "Camp4U," is a treasure trove of bad grammar and grade school humor. A recent headline: "Buler. Buler. Anyone?" I assume he was attempting to quote from the movie Ferris Bueller's Day Off, but who knows? He describes himself as "just an average guy with a cool job." If Campfield is "average," I'd hate to see the shallow end of that gene pool.
The best part of Campfield's blog is his attempt to bar others from quoting him, to wit: Any unapproved quotation from this blog in any part shall be seen as admission by the user to its value as a commercial product and shall be billed at the rate of $1,000.00 per word.
I guess I now owe Campfield $35,000, by my count. Good thing I didn't use the word "gay." God knows what that would cost me.
My stepdaughter, Agatha, has moved back from Brooklyn to live in our garage apartment until next summer. She's a law school grad and clerking for a federal judge in Memphis. I love her dearly, but she has one habit that has caused me stress. She takes in foster dogs ...