Katy Burns: When it comes to crazy legislators, New Hampshire is tops
For a few years, one of my sisters and I have had fun sparring via email over whose state’s legislators were crazier. Er, more eccentric.
Della lives in North Carolina, which – while not remotely in a class with our brother Tom’s South Carolina, known the nation over for the bizarre behavior of its elected officials – has, like us, its share of lawmakers who are regularly celebrated by late-night comics.
Just last year, the legislature in North Carolina voted to make it illegal for officials in any state agency to consider the accelerating rates of sea level rise – and they’re rising remarkably quickly in that state, so dependent on a fragile barrier beach coastline – when planning for the future. Yes! Make the rising of the oceans illegal! King Canute would be so proud. And certainly Della was. Points for North Carolina!
And it was a measure that might have come out of our own climate change-averse former legislature. But in fact our then-lawmakers were too busy with other things.
For example, they were considering a bill that would have made many New Hampshire laws subject to conformity with the Magna Carta. You know, that ancient British document dating to 1215. It also entertained a measure to make it illegal for federal officers to enforce federal gun laws in our fair state, to allow felons to own and to carry guns, and to do away with vaccines in public schools.
In fact, the sponsor of that last proposal also tried – unsuccessfully, thankfully – to do away with compulsory education altogether.
Clearly the good legislators of New Hampshire were leading the craziness parade.
Alas for connoisseurs of such stuff, the 2012 election decimated the ranks of the reality-impaired lawmakers here in the Granite State.
But never fear – North
Carolina legislators leapt into the breach with a vengeance.
Just this year, Della crowed, her state’s lawmakers have proposed amending the state’s marriage statutes to mandate that divorcing couples would have to file a notice of intent and wait for two full years, during which they would be required to take courses in conflict, communication and child-rearing.
Legislators also want to make it a felony punishable by up to six months in jail for a woman to bare her breasts – specifically, “the nipple, or any portion of the areola, of the human female breast” in public. One lawmaker opined that in the case of “questionable fashions” a little bit of duct tape ought to solve any problems.
As toppers on the legislative cake, the solons of Raleigh want to adopt both a state currency and – these are ambitious, imaginative folks – a state religion as well, declaring North Carolina exempt from the U.S. Constitution and U.S. court rulings.
No question, I had to concede to Della. North Carolina was unquestionably winning the craziness contest. And then . . .
Della, meet Stella!
Stella, of course, would be New Hampshire’s own Stella Tremblay, the legislative luminary from Auburn who exploded into national prominence last week when she opined online that the horrific bombings at the Boston Marathon were – ta da! – a conspiracy plotted by the federal government.
Game over, declared a chagrined Della. And the crown goes to New Hampshire!
Somehow I knew it was only a matter of time. When a little state like ours elects a 400-person House of Representatives, well, it’s inevitable that a few crackpots will end up in the mix. And Tremblay certainly seems to be one.
“The Boston Marathon [bombing] was Black Ops ‘terrorist’ attack. . . . Drones and now ‘terrorist’ attacks by our own Government,” she wrote.
Tremblay’s charges drew immediate nationwide attention. And let’s just say that most reaction wasn’t kind. Particularly when it became known that earlier in her political career Tremblay had tried to persuade her 399 fellow House members that President Obama wasn’t an American citizen. Or that she had labeled Woodrow Wilson a Hitler sympathizer.
But there were Tremblay defenders as well, folks who thrive on the internet underground. Perhaps emboldened by them, the indomitable Stella wrote darkly about “military with black backpacks on the last mile of the marathon,” some with detonators, who “were seen moving quickly away from the area of the bomb just . . . before it went off.”
Finally she faced reporters and cameras. “What am I going to apologize for?” she asked defiantly, before complaining that “People call me an idiot.”
You don’t say, Stella.
One of the happier aspects of this sorry affair is that both the executive director of the New Hampshire GOP and House Minority Leader Gene Chandler immediately and thoroughly disowned and denounced the Auburn legislator for her lunatic ravings.
Just as Chandler had, to his credit, earlier distanced himself from the three other Republican legislators who filed complaints seeking removal from office of 189 fellow legislators who had, in the words of the complainants, “violated the U.S. Constitution” for voting to repeal the recently enacted Stand Your Ground law.
And Chandler was quick to denounce, as well, Republican Peter Hansen, who apparently believes that “vagina” is just a handy synonym for “woman.”
Chandler’s responses are a wholly welcome change from the previous House regime led by Bill O’Brien. That was when there was an abundance of crackpots in residence under the Capitol’s golden dome and many, many strange things happened.
Among those odd happenings was an attempt by a handful of legislators – birthers, like Stella Tremblay – who tried to persuade the Ballot Law Commission to remove Obama’s name from the ballot. When their demand was denied, the legislators actually rushed members of the commission and their advisers, causing some to take refuge in an anteroom.
This did not sit well with Attorney General Michael Delaney, particularly since one of his staff members was among those having to hide from the raging lawmakers, and he complained to O’Brien.
O’Brien’s response? He criticized the attorney general.
I’ll bet even Della would agree. North Carolina might have a crop of crazy legislators every now and then. But in the long run, they are in endless supply in our own Granite State.
(Monitor columnist Katy Burns lives in Bow.)