America’s 7 Worst State Legislatures
Mitt Romney was channeling former Supreme Court justice Louis Brandeis when he gushed, at the first presidential debate in Denver, that “states are the laboratory of democracy.”
Perhaps he meant meth labs.
Still under the influence of the 2010 conservative landslide, state lawmakers over the last 12 months alternatively sought to ban abstract concepts, combat invisible threats, and generally strip away rights from the constituents who sent them to their respective chambers. In a year in which Washington was synonymous with inaction, America’s state legislatures offered the best possible argument for gridlock. After all, sometimes getting things done can be a lot worse than the alternative.
No statehouse was immune from crazy. But a few stood out above the rest. Here’s a quick look at the worst of the worst. Rankings are purely scientific:
1) Tennessee: MoJo’s cutting-edge algorithm awards a 500-point bonus to any state legislature that inspires a news story with the phrase “gateway body parts” and “governor signs” in the same paragraph. Republican Gov. Bill Haslam accomplished the feat in May when he signed into law a new abstinence-only sex education program that critics warned would prohibit almost any discussion of sexual activity during sex ed. As Bristol’s WCYB dryly reported, “News 5 looked into the bill and learned its language has been mocked across the country…”
The gateway body parts bill was part of a new push to crack down on various other gateways, including gateway words, such as “gay.” GOP State Sen. Stacey Campfield’s bill sought to prohibit the discussion of homosexuality for grade schoolers. Campfield articulated his views in a January radio interview:
Most people realize that AIDS came from the homosexual community—it was one guy screwing a monkey, if I recall correctly, and then having sex with men. It was an airline pilot, if I recall. My understanding is that it is virtually—not completely, but virtually—impossible to contract AIDS through heterosexual sex.