A View from Lick Skillet by Gerald Largen: Legislature’s policy is to promote ignorance

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Regular readers will recall that as late as 6 February we wrote a scathing critique of Scott DesJarlais’s misuse of our tax money to finance his re-election campaign through federally paid mailings of flyers masquerading as information, but which were nothing more than campaign literature. Some of our Republican friends were unhappy with this criticism of their fair-haired boy. (Oops, as Gov. Rick Perry would say, we forgot. Dr. Scott is as hairless as a Mexican hairless pup, as the many colour photos in the flyers show.)

Recent news reports fully vindicate our criticism. It seems that Dr. Scott ranked number one in spending on mailing to constituents. Of all 435 congressmen, our Scott was the No. 1, Premier, Nonpareil, Outstanding, First Rate, Big-spender when it came to using our tax money to promote his campaign for re-election.

In the three month of last quarter alone, he spent $224,346 of tax money, yours and mine, on these self promoting, self-agrandizing mailings. We haven’t yet seen any figures on the cost of his telephonic “Town Hall” meetings, but we assume that they aren’t cheap. But after all, it’s not his money he’s spending, so everything is hunkey-dorey, right?

Isn’t it wonderful how these Republican budget-cutters, “hold the line on spending,” fiscal conservatives, can, when it come to their own purposes, out spend all those Democratic big spenders and fiscal liberals? Our Scott has proven that he can, and will, outspend them all, whether Republican or Democrat. Ain’t politicians wonderful?
Gentle reader, there is ignorance in the world — there always has been, and sad to say there always will be. But, by and large, most of the paid-up members of the Human Society, are embarrassed about their ignorance — most want to at least ameliorate, if not eradicate, it.

Not so, however, in the case of the Republican Majority in the Legislature of the Formerly Great State of Tennessee.

These folks are not only proud of their ignorance, they are arrogantly proud of it. They stroke, they caress it, they hold it to their throbbing bosoms, and regard it as a thing of beauty, as precious as any jewel. But remarkably enough, for a thing which they so highly treasure, they are not only willing, but are anxious to share their ignorance with the populace at large. In fact, they are now rapidly moving on the front of requiring ignorance, mandated ignorance as it were.

One can scarcely scan any issue of one of the state’s daily newspapers without encountering a story of some new legislative proposal by these proud proponents of mandatory ignorance, and as the session nears its end, these instances are sort of bunching up.

For instance, closing public records of all sorts, and in last Tuesday’s News Sentinel, we read of their joyous attempt to repeal evolution; of attempts to have the Ten Commandments put up in governmental buildings; of repeal of any limit on the money these folks can collect from their adoring supporters, collections which in the ordinary world of reason would likely be characterized as bribes, but in the present controlling Republican hierarchy, whether state or federal, whether legislative or judicial, such collections are proclaimed “First Amendment Expressions of Political Belief! Yeah, right.

The father of the Bill of Rights, George Mason, is likely spinning in his sepulchure right now. And Ben Franklin is preening himself for his prognostication when, after the Constitutional Convention, a woman had asked him, “Dr. Franklin, what have you given us?” and he replied, “A republic, Madam, if you can keep it.”

It is indeed questionable whether we can keep it when it is daily subjected to the atrocious assaults of the present day ignorance espousing, anti-Republican Republicans.

From the first Republican Convention in 1856, through Lincoln, T. Roosevelt, Taft, Elsenhower and Nixon down to Reagan and the Bushes, no Republican leader has demonstrated such a dogged devotion to the pursuit of ignorance. In fact they all, despite any other faults have supported pursuit of learning.

Even Dubya Bush, whom no one can accuse of having an elevated intellect, backed the advancement of education, even though his chosen vehicle of “No Child Left Behind” has not proven successful, and has no doubt been a great disappointment to Dubya.

In some instances the pandering to ignorance might seem a political necessity, but the present activities of the Tennessee GOP legislative assault on learning has gone to the extreme, and it will take decades for Tennessee to regain its status as a state populated by folks who honour learning, and have always within our means tried to promote education.

But, as Poe’s Raven croaked — “Never more, never more.”

Shame on all of them, from the Chief Ignoramus, Ron Ramsay, down to the fearful Freddies who simply go along to get along. These latter should remember, as has been well said to this effect: “To remain silent when we should speak, makes cowards of men.”
Last week, we were privileged to attend the grand re-opening of Harriman’s Princess Theatre, and a grand occasion it was indeed. The programme was filled with examples of local talent, all of whom displayed remarkable musicianship and talent. Two especially outstanding performances were the piano renditions by Dr. Eric Littleton, who is definitely a home town boy, although his professional career has led him to upper East Tennessee. We can remember when Eric was not even a teen-ager, but even then showed clearly the signs of success.

His parents, Jim and Gloria, are no doubt bursting with pride at their off-spring’s multiple talents and multiple successes, as they should be.

The other especially moving performance was the Babbahatchie Band, If the National Anthem has ever been more expertly performed, it could have only been by the Marine Band when led by John Phillip Souza, one of whose marches the Babbahatchie also performed with great elan.

If the grand opening performances are to foretell the calibre of entertainment to be put forth at the re-invigorated and restored Princess, we are all in for a fine time, quite comparable to the grand entertainment put forth at the old movie palace in the days our youth.
One final note of a personal nature: Over the years many have urged us to write our recollections, which we have promised to consider doing. Recently Bill Hall has requested that we provide him with some such recollections to run in the monthly free paper he is working on with Robert Menard, called the Roane Review — not to be confused with the old Roane Reader which has resumed publication after the sad demise of Sandra Stout.

The first segment of our recollections have been published and the second and third have been written. We hope to continue to produce a new one each month for some time.