There’s a reason Jon Stewart had a segment titled “States: The Meth Labs of Democracy” on last night’s episode of The Daily Show. When left to their own devices, some state governments have a tendency to produce rather unsavory legislation – so Stewart took a look at a few bills considered lately that are just downright stupid.
“I believe it was Martin Luther King Jr. who said ‘the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice’ … however it appears some of America’s state legislatures would like to make that arc longer, and maybe have it bend not as much towards justice, but backwards and up their own asses,” Stewart said to introduce the segment, which is a pretty accurate explanation of the whole thing.
First, there is Kansas, which is considering a bill that would, essentially, let parents – or any adult with written permission from a child’s guardian – hit their child harder. Or, as Stewart described it: “Are you holding back from punching the shit out of your children because you fear legal repercussions? Well fear no more, your nightmare is over, whereas theirs is just beginning.”
But how exactly does the new law define harder? The bill’s text says that “‘corporal punishment’ means up to ten forceful applications in succession of a bare, open-hand palm against the clothed buttocks of a child,” which, as Stewart points out, sort of sounds like it was worded by a serial killer.
Of course, this is all despite evidence that corporal punishment is less effective than other child-rearing techniques like time-out, and that it could lead to emotional issues later in life. But who cares? If you want to beat the crap out of your child, Kansas says you have that right!
Also going on in state legislatures: Missouri has a bill that would let parents opt their child out of learning evolution in school, and some Missourians believe that nothing not in the Bible should be taught in school. And there's Kansas again, that has proposed legislation which would allow employees the freedom to discriminate against a customer on the basis of sexuality. Arizona has a similar bill, but allows discrimination on religious grounds.
Oof. On second thought, maybe it's best to just try to ignore what goes on in state governments.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.