Dear Governor Haslam... 

Recently, you blamed the media for the unfavorable attention being paid to the social agenda of your party. I have held my opinion of your administration mainly to myself. But you have crossed the line with this latest "move." As a moderate conservative, I supported you during your campaign. There was a time when I thought you might stand up for the best interests of the state. That time has passed.

First of all, the legislature is objectively embarrassing. There is no positive way to spin hate. The party mantra of "job creation" not only rings hollow but plainly stinks when compared to the slate of social laws that are pitched every session. What sort of jobs are you people after? Inquisitors?

A man of your privilege should know that educated people who can be depended upon to solve critical problems in medical research, logistics, and higher management don't respond well to xenophobia and witch-hunt politics. If you want the media to stop reporting this tomfoolery, then stand up for educated, well-mannered people who live here and who are horrified and ashamed by the backward and hateful agenda that apparently equates to success in our General Assembly.

You came into power touting your business background. But you seem unclear on the concept of "executive." By promising to veto embarrassing, generally unconstitutional legislation, you could have sent a message to educated people who might invest here or move to Tennessee to do research at Vanderbilt or at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital. These reckless, self-serving bills play well in the backwoods hollers of Tennessee. (The Daily Show likes them too.) But how many jobs do those people create? More than FedEx's Fred Smith?

In fact, the recent snubbing of FedEx over the issue of guns in employers' parking lots is a perfect example. A major employer in this state was effectively told to shut it by state senator Mae Beavers of Mt. Juliet. This makes a mockery of your jobs rhetoric.

Beavers is hardly alone in her humiliating dance in the court of the gun lobby. Educated people are quick to see the irony behind your party's invocation of Christian morality in service to the false god of profit and the outright scourge of gun violence that destroys lives and families among our state's poorest citizens. This makes a mockery of any claims to Christian values.

Anyone who has worked in management in white-collar industry knows that women and gay people are indispensable. This was once made very real to me when I was starting a business here. The potential partner in the concern was an older man, Southern and brusque. He asked me one day in talks, "What do you think of the gays?" As an open-minded child of the New South, I stalled and stuttered wondering what on earth was coming next, when he added, "If I could hire only gays, that's what I would do. They are the best people I can find." He employed many Tennesseans.

You have been made a fool of by Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey. Your nomination was a Pyrrhic victory. (Look it up.) The cost of your failure may very well be the ability to recruit people like Fred Smith (Yale '66) to Tennessee. But speculation aside, you have definitely lost my support — just like John McCain did when he chose Sarah Palin as his running mate.

Until you stand up to it or openly acknowledge that your party's agenda has become that of seeking lobbying money and riling up hatred, I will fail to take you or your party seriously. I sure as hell won't become a Democrat, but I will hound superstition and political avarice at every turn, because educated people read this paper and others. Their voice deserves a place in our state. Tennessee is becoming a place where educated entrepreneurs and doctors of international renown would feel unwelcome.

Blame the media, do you? The media will have to speak to and for people like me until you decide to stand up for Tennessee — and for yourself.

Joe Boone, a Memphian and self-described "swing voter," works as a Flyer copy editor.

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