Ah, the Indiana legislature! An inexhaustible source of blog fodder.
Yesterday, it was Brian Bosma twisting the rules in order to deny GLBT people equal rights. Today….well, remember that old adage to the effect that it is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt?
There’s a legislative equivalent–an ironic twist on our usual understanding of “do nothing” legislators. Usually, we think of a “do-nothing” Congress or General Assembly as one that quite literally does nothing–doesn’t pass legislation or attend to business. (That’s not always a bad thing, either; these days, when a legislature is active, it’s as likely to be creating problems as solving them. HJR3, anyone?)
But there is another way to do nothing, and State Senator James Smith has produced a perfect example. Here is the entire text of a bill he has introduced:
Celebration of winter holidays in schools. Provides that a school corporation may: (1) instruct students about the history of traditional winter celebrations; (2) allow the use of traditional greetings concerning the celebrations; and (3) display on school property scenes or symbols associated with traditional winter celebrations if certain conditions are met and the scenes or symbols do not include a message that encourages a particular religious belief. Requires the department of education to develop guidelines to assist school corporations in developing appropriate instruction and displays.
In other words, this bill would allow schools to celebrate winter holidays in any fashion consistent with the First Amendment.
Perhaps Senator Smith’s next bill will allow us to kiss our mothers, ride a bike, or write a letter without fear of state interference?
I assume Smith’s intent is to reassure the good folks back in Mayberry or wherever that passage of this (absolutely meaningless) measure will make life harder for the atheists and non-Christians who are waging that War on Christmas that only the wingers can detect. And he’s counting on those constituents to be totally unaware of how the Constitution and legal system actually work.
Not an unreasonable assessment. Just depressing.