Ain't we lucky to live in Atlanta, Ga.? We can't buy liquor on Sunday because we should be praising Jesus instead of partying. Summers, we can picnic at Stone Mountain Park and watch a laser light show that celebrates the Confederacy and causes grown-ups to whoop and holler in remembrance of the glory days of slavery and secession. Is anyone still holding GWTW-themed Tupperware parties for creationists only?
Oh sure, we are in occasional peril of being dragged into the 21st century, but no matter how newfangled things get, we can always depend on one institution to keep us firmly rooted in the Southern Gothic tradition. I'm talking about the Georgia General Assembly, that august body of pig farmers and bankers who make our laws.
Every January, on the second Monday, they lock the doors of their trailers back home and come to the big city to legislate the hell out of us. Two whoop-ass actions last week deserve mention.
First, state Rep. Clay Cox, R-Lilburn, has resurrected the ghost of the war on Christmas past by reintroducing legislation to prohibit state, municipal and county agencies, including school boards, from banning the utterance of "Merry Christmas." House Bill 12 outlaws the prohibition of any "verbal expressions relating to the celebration or observance of any public or legal holiday."
That means the government also can't prohibit a kid or teacher from saying "Happy Hanukkah" or, for that matter, "May your firstborn be bled to death in a sacrifice to the sun on this happiest anniversary of the reconsecration of the Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan." But everyone knows the real intent is to pound Christ's name into the kiddies' heads.
Cox, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, said that he had been contacted by teachers, students and government employees who were "afraid" to say "Merry Christmas."
The House Civil Judiciary Committee asked Cox to cite guilty schools. He said fliers advertising a parade were not permitted distribution at a Lilburn elementary school because they included the word "Christmas." Instead, he said with outrage, an announcement of a "winter parade" was made.
And, of course, he refused to name the school. (Remember that many incidents Fox News cited in its reporting of the war on Christmas two years ago turned out to be fiction.) Nonetheless, the Judiciary Committee's members, knowing which side their fruitcake is buttered on, gave preliminary approval to the proposed legislation.
The bill, as any pinhead not courting the religious right can articulate, mainly creates confusion, since it presumes the First Amendment doesn't already limit regulation of such speech. The bill does specify that it should not be interpreted "to abridge the right to prevent unlawful speech or expression, including, but not limited to behavior that," in the words of a Supreme Court decision, "materially disrupts classwork or involves substantial disorder or invasion of the rights of others."
Thus, third-graders would have the specific right to say "Merry Christmas" and "Praise be to Satan" to their hearts' content but could be thrown into the dungeon for, um, "unlawful speech." What precisely is unlawful speech? Obviously, Cox has not bothered to read "Tinker vs. Des Moines School District," the case that took up the question of free speech in the public schools. Under that Supreme Court decision it would obviously be impossible to forbid a kid from saying "Merry Christmas." So the bill is just political grandstanding.
Personally, though, I think it should be unlawful for third-graders to speak Clay Cox's pornographic name. It undoubtedly causes a lot of disruptive tittering among elementary-school students.
Speaking of dicks, an even more deliciously dumb decision by the House authorizes the erection of a statue of former U.S. Sen. Zell Miller on the state Capitol grounds. Miller, infamous for his 2004 keynote address at the Republican National Convention, is a flat-out looney tune.
In his 2004 address in support of George Bush, he told one infuriated lie after another. Then he staged tirades when reporters questioned his facts and the rationality of his positions.
There is no word on the form the statue will take, but I humbly suggest an audio-animatronic figure in a diaper with Tourette syndrome (or "First Amendment-itis," if you prefer). An electronic sensor could cause the statue to call anyone who approaches it a "godless, fetus-murdering, proterrorist faggot sucker of clay cocks and ..."
Of course, it would wish visitors a "merry fuckin' Christmas" while its veins and eyes popped out.
All hail the Georgia Ginral 'Sembly, where no political inanity fails to trump common sense.Cliff Bostock holds a Ph.D. in depth psychology. For information on his private practice, go to www.cliffbostock.com.
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