If you have any doubt we live in Jesusland, consider the mind-boggling avalanche of Puritanism to which we've been subjected lately.
First, there is, of course, the candidacy of Ralph Reed for lieutenant governor. It's been a long time since the state has had a major candidate as wacky as Lester Maddox, the avowed racist who chased black people out of his Hemphill restaurant with an ax handle and became governor in the '70s.
But Reed comes close. The piety-spouting former head of the Christian Coalition and Georgia Republican Party turns out to have received $5 million in payments from gambling interests, according to a congressional report released last week.
It's slimy enough that the good Christian took gambling funds, but the payment was to conduct an anti-gambling campaign against his donor's competitor. The notorious Jack Abramoff was part of the gig and the two tried to hide the money in nonprofit organizations to avoid public scrutiny of an action that goes far beyond the usual hypocrisy of right-wing moralists.
Just like ol' Lester, Reed shows no contrition for his actions. In fact, although it's well documented, he simply denies it, in the usual fashion of Republican argument these days. And like the arch-segregationists who supported Maddox, Reed's constituency is unruffled by questions of ethics and law.
Meanwhile, the state readied to enforce one of the dumbest laws to be adopted by the General Assembly in a long time. The new law prohibits sex offenders from living within 1,000 feet of a school bus stop. So, a huge percentage of the state's 10,000 registered sex offenders would have had to leave their homes by July 1.
Last week, a federal judge did grant a temporary reprieve to eight people who filed a suit questioning the constitutionality of the law. But the reprieve only applies to the eight plaintiffs.
Now, let me get this right. Legislators want to monitor the behavior of sex offenders. But they pass a law that requires them to immediately vacate their homes -- which means the state stands to lose its ability to monitor the offenders. It further disrupts the lives of people who, I assume, have already served sentences, further stigmatizing them and making integration into normal life more difficult.
Local law enforcement officials are bamboozled about how to enforce the law, while its supporters bloviate endlessly about protecting the precious children. Of course, if these blowhards were really interested in the precious children, they would act more proactively to improve education and health services. What this is really about is protecting their precious pork-filled jobs with razzle-dazzle campaigning against perverts.
Speaking of pervs, what a political plum befell Gov. Sonny Perdue when a judge overturned the state's new law outlawing gay marriage. The judge's reason was that the law seems to violate the state's "single-subject" rule by affecting both marriage and civil unions.
Plaintiffs argued successfully that the law could preclude the granting of marriage benefits to those in civil unions if the state decides at some point in the future to recognize those.
The issue went before the Georgia Supreme Court last week, giving Perdue and friends the opportunity to make their usual declarations about the sanctity of marriage and the terrible peril from which they plan to snatch it. As usual, too, they did not bother to explain how people who want to get married endanger marriage -- rather than reinforce its importance -- but such technicalities matter little to hate mongers.
Best of all for Perdue and friends, if the state Supreme Court does overturn the law, Perdue plans to call a special session of the General Assembly to draft a new bill that will be put on the ballot in November, guaranteeing another avalanche of hand-wringing wingnuts at the polls.
What else? The new city of Sandy Springs continues to turn itself into Tobacco Road for the nouveau riche. The new council there is trying to roll back bar closing times from 4 a.m. to 2. They've already adopted an adult entertainment law that, among other things, prohibits the sale of alcohol at strip clubs -- the same law Atlanta had a few decades ago.
Meanwhile, Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin's payoff to her own religious constituency -- enforcement of Sunday bar closings -- continues to cause thousands of Atlantans to swell the churches for Sunday night suppers and fellowship. As it happens, though, venues that serve food can serve liquor on Sundays. Thus, rumors are flying that church cafeterias have been hung with mirrored disco balls and booze is flowing from Kool-Aid dispensers. Praise the Lord!
Cliff Bostock holds a Ph.D. in depth psychology.
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