I try hard not to wander into the political swamp.

But sometimes politicians provide such enticing bait that even the most cautious just cannot stop themselves — in this case, me.

The impetus for my swamp tour stems from the tried-and-true talent lawmakers have for disguising (not very well) what amounts to no more than political pandering and attacking the “intelligentsia” in dictator-like fashion.

And so, I give you Kentucky House Bill 14 and House Bill 18 and similar legislation in 23 or more other states. (Not-so) great minds thinking alike.

The Kentucky bills both propose broad and undefined restrictions on teaching race, gender and religion in K-12 and post-secondary classrooms.

The bills are essentially gag laws for the “liberal” side of the political food fight and “ungag” laws for the “conservative” viewpoint.

Alas, no matter what roads we travel, we end up at the same place, a roadblock for getting anything useful done.

While the state that serves as my home since 2005 wallows in issues far more important than crafty lawmakers hunting for votes by butting into classroom teaching, this is where the politicians choose to spend their overpaid time.

The state offers a losing tax structure that drives business and its young folks to border states. It by all estimation offers a mediocre education system and a worse health care system. These come with a lagging economy.

So instead of butting into how to teach history, why not focus on the state’s long history of ineffective legislative efforts to address real problems?

Why? Simple.

They care more about pandering for votes and developing fodder for campaign attack ads.

One of my favorite lines comes in House Bill 18:

“. . . a local board of education or board of a public charter school shall ensure that no public school or public charter school offers any classroom instruction or discussion, formal or informal, or distributes any printed or digital material, including but not limited to textbooks and instructional materials, that promotes any of the following concepts:

1. One (1) race, sex, or religion is inherently superior to another race, sex, or religion”

The sponsors of HB 14 and HB 18 are all Republicans.

The Kentucky Legislature website shows 30 Republican senators, among them are one African American and three women. It shows the Kentucky House of representatives has 75 Republicans, among them no African Americans and 13 women.

Seems like one race and gender is inherently superior when it comes to lawmaking.

And that becomes more apparent when you look at redistricting in the same states where lawmakers want to dictate classroom teaching.

They have herded black voters into single districts to make more districts “winnable” for their party partners.

Again, it sure smells like one race is inherently superior to another.

Added to the Monkey Pile of bad law is HB 130: “Freedom of Speech at Public Post-secondary Education Institutions”

This bill — all sponsors Republicans — calls for blanket enforcement of the First Amendment in post-secondary public schools.

So we have a bill that wants to gag people who teach about issues of race, gender, etc. And we have HB 130, a bill filled with regulations to protect everyone’s free speech, including I assume teachers and administrators in colleges and universities who teach about race, gender, etc.


In my lifetime, I have found no one goes the extra mile better than lawmakers to breach the First Amendment and to be fair, college administrators.

It is no shock that in public opinion polls, lawmakers sit near the bottom of professions regarding public trust — even lower than journalists.

But lawmakers do not care. Once elected, the primary mission is to get reelected.

And for that, silly lawmaking works.


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