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Opinion | We could all use a break from this awful, terrible, no good session

This legislative session has been particularly awful. Anthony Daniels asked for the one thing we could all use: A break.

Anthony Daniels
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Anthony Daniels said it, but we were all thinking it. 

Those of us with working brain cells and a smidge of empathy for our fellow humans have watched in disbelief this session of the Alabama Legislature, as far-right Republicans have scrapped and clawed their way to out-stupid each other in an effort to get the attention of the perpetually outraged and afraid crowd. 

Bill after bill, meeting after meeting, it has been one embarrassing, offensive, deplorable act after another. Most of them built on farfetched fairytales that they “heard” or that was brought to them by a “group of moms.” 

So, as the House’s Education Policy Committee met on Wednesday, and Rep. Mack Butler – who has already expressed his desire to “purify” Alabama’s schools – stepped to the lectern with an expansion of the utterly detestable “don’t say gay” bill from last session, it didn’t exactly take a genius to know where things were headed. 

As part of the expansion, Butler and Rep. Mark Gidley, a pastor, wanted to include a provision that would ban teachers from displaying flags “related to or representing sexual identity.” 

Apparently, the way to purify a school is to remove the First Amendment protections. 

But first, Rep. Barbara Drummond had a rather simple question: “What do these flags look like?”

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Seems reasonable, no? 

If you’re going to codify into state law a ban on something, you should at least be able to identify what it is that you’re banning, right? 

Gidley introduced the amendment but Butler handled the speaking parts of this two-man fear mongering show. Butler’s response, in general: You know what we mean.

“I think we all know what we’re getting at,” Butler literally said out loud in front of people. “Some schools are displaying the Pride Flag.”

Quick aside: Remember when so many people said that these bills, such as the “don’t say gay” bill, were essentially efforts to eradicate gay people from society and force people to pretend as if gay people don’t exist and/or that gay people were an abomination simply for existing? And Republicans acted all outraged and claimed that that sort of talk was just Dems exaggerating the true intentions, and that they meant no harm to gay people at all? Yeah … 

Anyway … this lawmaker wants to create a law that bans the displaying of a flag because it might remind young people that gay people exist. 

Drummond asked Butler if there would be an education component to the bill, so school officials would know which flags should be banned. Or if there would be a penalty for displaying these “sexual or sexual orientation” flags. 

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Butler said no to both. 

And that’s when Daniels, the House Minority Leader, entered the chat. 

Daniels asked Butler to explain the impetus for the bill – the alleged “group of moms” who complained. Did they send pictures of the flag? Who were the moms? Did they provide context for their complaints? 

“My concern is that we continue to try to pass laws related to isolated incidents when there’s a local school board there to address these things,” Daniels said. 

After some back and forth, during which Butler admitted he didn’t know the context for the complaint or have any information about what the flag in question looked like, Daniels said, “So you don’t even have all of the information to make an informed decision that we need to go down this road.”

And that’s when Butler dropped out this doozy of a Facebook-post-by-your-crazy-aunt-come-to-life: 

“Just today, when I was in Rep. Gidley’s office, we had a lady sharing with us about her grandson that was literally indoctrinated and became a girl,” Butler said. In real life. Out loud. On purpose. In front of people who he knew to be awake and listening. 

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“She felt like it was the teacher who did it,” Butler continued, undeterred by the sheer stupidity of what he was saying or Daniels literally laughing out loud at him. 

And that’s when Daniels said the thing that all of us sane people have been thinking.

“Man, give me a break.” 

Sweet Lord, give us a break. From DEI and divisive concepts to trampling on trans kids to book bans to criminalizing helping someone with an absentee ballot to banning sex education to declaring frozen embryos to be children to stealing money from public schools to pay for rich kids’s private school tuition it has been one hell of an awful session. And we’re barely halfway through it. 

Even for Alabama, where screwing the little guy while setting pandering records is common, this session has been a standout for stupidity and awfulness and the just plain weird. A session with entire pieces of legislation built on the singular fever-dream stories of fictitious moms and brainwashed grandmas. 

In half a session, we’ve managed to set the state back decades from an educational standpoint and again made national news for all the wrong reasons. 

So, yeah, as Daniels said so succinctly: Please, give us all a break.

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Josh Moon is an investigative reporter and featured columnist at the Alabama Political Reporter with years of political reporting experience in Alabama. You can email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter.

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