Call it a lesson learned. When I was young, parents the problem was kids listening to rock music, and the solution was to put stickers on albums warning parents that their children might hear explicit words.
These days the problem is apparently smart kids learning biology, and the solution is to put stickers on textbooks warning kids that they need to talk to their parents about what the state of Arizona thinks.
True, we are not certain what lesson was actually learned, but the tale is hardly unfamiliar.
And now, the update from the one and only Laura Conaway:
The board acted at the urging of the same group that backed gay discrimination bills in Indiana, Arkansas and Louisiana, the Alliance Defending Freedom. Based in Arizona, the Alliance insisted that Gilbert’s biology books were out of compliance with an Arizona law requiring school districts to present childbirth and adoption as preferable to abortion. But soon after the Tea Party majority decided to censor the biology books, voters in very conservative Gilbert decided to replace them with a new majority. Shortly afterward, the outgoing board reversed course and decided against going ahead with ripping pages out of biology textbooks.
From the beginning, superintendent Christina Kishimoto had warned her bosses on the board that removing information from the books would only send kids to the Internet to find out what they were missing. With the new majority taking over, Kishimoto told us late last year she would have a team of biology teachers go over the books this summer and likely put together two or three pages of information that they would include in an envelope glued to the inside back cover.
Last night, though, a local viewer emailed us Gilbert’s solution, and it turns out to be much smaller than expected.
As you can see below, teachers are adding this small sticker to the inside back cover of the honors biology textbooks.
The Gilbert Public School District supports the state of Arizona’s strong interest in promoting childbirth and adoption over elective abortion. The District is also in support of promoting abstinence as the most effective way to eliminate the potential for unwanted pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. If you have questions concerning sexual intercourse, contraceptives, pregnancy, adoption or abortion, we encourage you to speak with your parents.
And there is a political moral to the story. Remember that this intrusion of the moral authority of the state government of Arizona is brought to you by small-government Tea Party Republicans.
To the one it is part of a conservative notion whereby small government means using local government to tamper in people’s lives, like citing square footage in order to censor Zombie Jesus. Or, you know, TRAP laws, by which Republicans use zoning regulations to shutter businesses providing goods and services they don’t like. Women’s health care, for instance. The infamous abortibudget, for instance, in which Republican presidential candidate and Ohio Gov. John Kasich refused to use his line-item veto to strike anti-abortion provisions from the state budget. Here’s a fun one: Abortion providers must obtain transfer agreements with local hospitals. This is similar to the admitting privileges debate in other states; many abortion providers can’t get local admitting privileges because they do not admit enough patients to the hospital. But Ohio, knowing this wasn’t popular with the courts, went with another idea. A “transfer agreement”. A doctor needed a transfer agreement with a local hospital before providing abortion services. The hospitals, meanwhile, are explicitly forbidden under law from entering such an agreement. It’s no wonder Mr. Kasich didn’t want to discuss the anti-abortion law he signed, and the only real question remaining is why the Cleveland Plain Dealer tried to scrub that episode from history. One need not be a paid pundit to recognize, also, that it is always Christian supremacist moralism.
At least it’s not forcible insertion this time.
But it is using the state to deliver a moral message intended to undermine reality. And this in itself is problematic.
Which leads to the other. Only Tea Party activists in Arizona could rush to follow in the footsteps of Tipper Gore and somehow manage to screw up even worse.
At some point, we must admit the entire Tea Party brand really is that stupid.
Benen, Steve. “Ohio’s Kasich approves sweeping restrictions on reproductive rights”. msnbc. 1 July 2013.
—————. “The gag rule Kasich doesn’t want to talk about”. msnbc. 31 October 2014.
Conaway, Laura. “Arizona town decides not to censor books, adds stickers instead”. msnbc. 14 August 2015.