published Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

Cook: Making laws like it's 1949

Tennessee lawmakers are a few curlicues away from requiring all public school kids to learn how to read and write in cursive.

Not required art class. Not PE class every day. Not courses in coding or nonviolent conflict resolution or civics, each year, every year.

But cursive, the form of handwriting preferred by the Donner Party and Whigs everywhere.

I'm not against it, really. Not for it, either. Just seems there are a batrillion other important issues that ought to hop to the front of the line. So why legislate cursive?

I think it's nostalgia. Wistfulness. A yearning for the good ol' days, which is beginning to seem like part of the operating manual for our Legislature.

Let's gaze into the rearview mirror together ...

• Monday, March 3: With only one "no" vote, lawmakers in the Senate vote to legalize switchblade knives.

They'd been illegal, you know, along with all knives with blades longer than four inches -- some people call them swords -- and other outdated things, like child labor.

Now, state senators are working to allow citizens to carry switchblades as their God-given right.

Somewhere out there, Ponyboy Curtis cheers. (Stay gold, lawmakers. Stay gold.)

• Three weeks earlier: With only seven "no" votes, lawmakers in the Senate vote to cancel a 2009 law that allows city councils and county commissions to ban guns in local parks.

With a gut-punch to the autonomous power of local governments, the long hand of the state Senate decreed that anyone with a handgun permit is now free to carry their weapon into any municipal park or recreation area ... and cities and counties can't stop them.

It's like an addiction. Lawmakers can't get enough of guns, feeling the never-ending urge to insert them into any and every public and private space in the state.

Bars. Churches. Campuses. Trunks.

It is the cock-loading of our democracy -- guns here, there, everywhere -- that reflects an antiquated, Wild West model of conflict resolution and unblinking interpretation of the Second Amendment.

(In other news: District Attorney Buzz Franklin refused to charge the North Georgia man who shot and killed a man with Alzheimer's who was wandering the neighborhood at night with his dogs. As the confused man knocked on the wrong door, the man inside the house felt threatened, grabbed his gun, went outside and then fired, killing the 72-year-old. To summarize: anyone in Franklin's district who feels threatened when someone knocks on your door can now shoot to kill ... and get away with it.)

• Around Valentine's Day: Led by Chattanooga's Rep. Richard Floyd, lawmakers condemn Sex Week at the University of Tennessee-Knoxville.

While Sex Week includes a list of excellent presentations -- discussions on religion, abstinence and hook-up culture -- it also caters in the sensational and Mardi Gras-gaudy.

So lawmakers are fighting back, and quite naturally, they're going too far, throwing the baby out with the act of making a baby. They're considering bills that would prohibit UT from using student fees to bring in outside speakers, because, after all, the last thing we want is college students learning about the outside world.

"Have Gun Week instead," one reader told UT officials. "You certainly won't have the opposition you have now."

"Let them get off campus," Floyd said of Sex Week organizers. "They can go out there in a field full of sheep if they want to and have all the sex week they want."

Somewhere out there, Little Bo Peep faints.

• Thursday, March 6: Lawmakers prevent Gov. Bill Haslam from expanding Medicaid without their approval first.

As the sick get sicker and public hospitals beg for federal dollars, lawmakers half-nelson the possibility of our governor doing something to help them. Haslam casually replied that he'd been planning to get permission anyway, which was a Fonzie-cool, slick answer. (Somebody give the man a switchblade!)

This is not really about health care. It's about our ongoing subterfuge of anything-Obama. It's about legislating from an outdated paradigm. It's about the filibuster of anything thoughtful and creative and bold, as lawmakers pine for the days when kids wrote in cursive and people carried switchblades and nobody talked about sex and nobody ever elected a black man named Barack.

Somewhere out there, Andrew Jackson plans his return.

Contact David Cook at or 423-757-6329. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter at DavidCookTFP.

about David Cook...

David Cook is the award-winning city columnist for the Times Free Press, working in the same building where he began his post-college career as a sportswriter for the Chattanooga Free Press. Cook, who graduated from Red Bank High, holds a master's degree in Peace and Justice Studies from Prescott College and an English degree from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. For 12 years, he was a teacher at the middle, high school and university ...

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ibshame said...

You forgot this gem of a piece of legislation from the TFP yesterday: The Tennessee General Assembly is considering a bill that would require voters in partisan primaries to declare that the party they are voting for "most closely represents [their] values and beliefs." What this is meant to do is discourage those in opposing parties to cross over when their intent is to maliciously malign the election of either primary party," said the bill's sponsor, Rep. Joe Carr, R-Lascassas, as the House Local Government Subcommittee discussed the legislation. Carr is challenging Lamar Alexander for his U.S. Senate seat in this year's Republican primary.

This is funny, Carr is worried Dems will cross over and vote for Alexander in the primary. So, he decides to come up with another obstacle for voters but this time it's aimed at protecting the "integrity" of the primaries.

Someone should ask him, what about independents? Does this mean they don't get to vote? The realization Alexander is way ahead of him when it comes to fund-raising must be a heavy burden. So he thinks the only way he's got an even shot at the playing field is if he can keep the Dems from crossing over to vote for Alexander.

Alexander on the other hand kept a real low profile on the VW/UAW controversy and let Corker be the front man because Corker had nothing to lose. Alexander didn't want to tick off the Dems in Middle and in particular West Tennessee because to do so might mean they would in fact cross over and vote for Carr in the primary just to keep Alexander out. Haslam tried to help Alexander by dangling the prospect of selling a megasite in Memphis to a Car Manufacturer even it was already affiliated with the UAW. Evidently the Suppliers could go to Memphis but not come to Chatt. If the Dems had someone strong enough to run against Alexander they could crush him but they don't so he's safe.

Carr wants to remove Alexander's safety net. This bill is a desperate attempt on his part to make it happen no matter it requires one to take a loyalty oath to a party in order to vote. I know loyalty oaths to upholding the Constitution of the United States are legal but a loyalty oath to a POLITICAL PARTY IN ORDER TO VOTE? Something definitely "rotten in Denmark."

It's too bad the Dems don't have strong candidates like they once had, people like McWherter, Naifeh, Bredsen(All came from either Middle or West Tennessee). Maybe one day this part of the state will be fortunate to have a Strong Dem seek the Governor's Mansion or some higher office. Would be very nice to see a Governor Berke or a U.S. Senator Berke or even higher.

March 11, 2014 at 11:06 a.m.
ibshame said...

Update: Carr's bill has failed. He might as well drop out now. Alexander will crush him. Loyalty oath to a party, that's almost as bad as the Road Kill Bill.LOL

March 11, 2014 at 2:40 p.m.
BHirsh said...

I agree.

Students should instead be taught the 4 basic rules of gun safety, proper sight alignment, and trigger control.

And the school should get a nice outdoor range so they can refine their skills.

You wanna talk 1949? THAT'S IT.

March 11, 2014 at 4:36 p.m.
conservative said...





March 11, 2014 at 5:27 p.m.
John_Proctor said...

"Let them get off campus," Floyd said of Sex Week organizers. "They can go out there in a field full of sheep if they want to and have all the sex week they want."

Republican conservative Richard Floyd is an advocate of bestiality? Who knew he was such a swinger?

March 12, 2014 at 9:24 a.m.
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