An Open Letter to NH State Representatives About Their Treatment of Fourth Graders
We need to talk about why mean comments and abortion issues shouldn't be directed at kids.
I’ve spent the better part of a week hearing about the fourth-graders from Hampton Falls who sponsored a bill to make the red-tailed hawk the official state raptor of New Hampshire.
I DVR stuff a lot. So I didn’t get around to watching John Oliver’s excellent HBO program “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” until Monday night. I was both thrilled and horrified that they chose to highlight this story.
Here’s how it breaks down; I was thrilled because the show is genuinely funny, well-written and well-produced. Oliver is a “Daily Show” alum, and in fact filled in for Jon Stewart when Stewart was out to direct a movie. Oliver’s program is an unabashed knock-off of the “Daily Show”, but with a much bigger budget.
Big bucks and a week to make a show versus trying to do a show daily on a basic-cable budget means that the “Daily Show” is good, but “Last Week Tonight” is better. When I saw that they were covering our little state with the giant legislature I knew it was going to be good. I also knew that it was going to deftly highlight everything wrong with politics and government.
It’s important to remember that politicians are just people with a job. If you rise to the level of Congressional Representative, Senator, Governor or President then you are breathing some rarified air and, politics aside, you probably are a pretty bright individual with something to offer.
But in New Hampshire, our state legislature is comprised of over 400 individuals from all walks of life from all corners of the Granite State. Bottom line is that anybody can be a state rep. I could be a state rep. Let me be clear on this; should you ever see my name on a ballot somewhere, do not vote for me.
I would be a terrible state representative, but in theory it could happen.
As a class project they submitted a thoughtful bill to name an official state raptor. Why not? New Hampshire has an official fresh water game fish, the brook trout. We also have a state salt water fish. It’s the striped bass. Our bug is the lady bug. Chinook is our dog. That’s a breed, not a dog named “Chinook”. The white potato is our state vegetable.
side from the sheer boredom initiated by the white potato, it too could be fodder for some really bad attempts at humor. If you’d like to pause a moment to think up your own white potato joke I can wait.
So why not a state raptor? Why not the red-tailed hawk? Folks who follow me on Twitter and Facebook may remember that I encountered one of these majestic birds close up in January.
While driving on Route 1-A in Rye I saw a bird sitting on a speed limit sign. Didn’t know if it was real or a joke. I stopped to get a closer look and discovered this handsome bird that certainly had no fear of me or the other folks that had also stopped to check the bird out.
I posted the bird’s picture not knowing what it was. Several folks on social media identified it as a red-tail hawk. It’s a pretty awesome bird!
So the fourth-graders show up to see politics in action and get sucker-punched by several alleged grown-ups who compare their bill to everything from hot dogs to Planned Parenthood. I’d actually kind of like to see the hot dog thing happen. I’d vote for Oscar Mayer just based on the catchy jingle.
The Planned Parenthood comment is unconscionable. Sometimes a dog needs a muzzle., but people usually need them more often.
Word is that the offending legislators can’t be disciplined because the rules say that the discipline should have taken place during the session that the offense occurred in. Well that’s a stupid rule. We’ve all been through the five stages of utter amazement:
- Did that person really say that?
- Am I sure they really said that?
- Were they trying to be funny or are they really that stupid?
- OMG. I think they really are that stupid!
- Yes, yes they are that stupid.
Sometimes it takes a bit of time to process that. I’ll invoke the wisdom of another fine comedian here. It was Ron White who told us that “you can’t fix stupid”. Sure you can make fun of it. Mostly you just want to smack it but that would be wrong.
It’s obvious that the level of stupid that can be reached in one session of our legislature exceeds our ability to repair, discipline or properly apologize for said level of stupid. The first thing that needs to happen is for this rule to be changed.
We’re obviously going to hit Stupid Defcon 1 again and we need to be able to deal with it more effectively in the future. The kids deserve an apology. While some general apologies will be offered, none seem to be coming directly from the snarky morons who started this whole thing.
In an effort to better understand the process I checked with my friend Curtis Barry at the Dupont Group in Concord. Curtis explained to me that once a bill is defeated, it pretty much closes the door for any future bills that are “substantially similar”. I was disappointed to hear that these intrepid kids really would not have another chance to make their case. Then Curtis asked me “Would they really want to?”
Not all lessons are easy and hopefully these kids have some adults in their lives that can make this a “teachable moment”. Maybe one of the kids will be inspired to become a politician someday and actually fix messes like this one. But then again would they really want to?