Feeling Better About Tennessee’s Unhinged State GOP

borgIt’s pretty depressing this time of year looking in on the Tennessee legislature’s weekly wing-nut chronicle — those persistent reminders of just how far our GOP-led state can stray from sanity. Fortunately, for those of us dispirited by the right-wing mayhem that sucks all the rational air out of the room in Tennessee, scientific psychology offers an easy remedy: social comparison theory. In simple terms, we can shore up our self-worth by comparing ourselves with others. The good news is it turns out Tennessee lacks a monopoly on unhinged conservatism. So let’s take a quick look and feel better about ourselves.

Exhibit A: Michigan Republican National Committeeman Dave Agema, who put up on his Facebook page a post that (as quoted in the Detroit Free Press) “depicts gays as sexually promiscuous, rife with sexually transmitted diseases and responsible for ‘half the murders in large cities.’ ” Asked to clarify his views on homosexuality, Agema told a Slate writer that “this is not about hate but a lifestyle that is against 230 years of American history and filled with medical, psychological, legal and costs reasons to oppose it.” See? We aren’t the only state with GOP crazy-bigot juice in the water supply. On the other hand, a group of more than 20 Republicans in Michigan did sign a statement calling Agema’s actions “deplorable” and calling for his resignation, so apparently theirs is a tad more dilute.

Exhibit B: In Idaho, a public school science teacher finds himself under fire for using the word “vagina” during a biology class on human reproduction. You probably don’t need me to point out that the school is located in an area that has the state’s highest teen pregnancy rate.

Exhibit C: And then there is Ben Carson, the Maryland-based celebrity right-wing pediatric neurosurgeon who has been getting conservative buzz as a possible 2016 presidential hopeful. Turns out that in a recent appearance on Fox News the good doctor likened support for marriage equality to pedophilia and bestiality: “Marriage is between a man and a woman. It’s a well-established fundamental pillar of society and no group, be they gays, be they NAMBLA, be they people who believe in bestiality, it doesn’t matter what they are, they don’t get to change the definition.”

There … now don’t we all you feel better?

A version of this post appears on the Nashville Scene‘s Pith in the Wind blog.


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