Daily Archives: April 18, 2012

Mario Piperni on Backwoods Tennessee

Tennessee’s ‘Don’t Say Gay’ Law

April 18, 2012 By

Meanwhile, in the closely contested race to determine which state has the most regressive, bigoted and narrow-minded lawmakers in the U.S., today’s contender…

Tennessee’s elementary and middle school teachers could face more pressure not to talk about homosexuality with their students next year after the so-called Don’t Say Gay bill cleared a House education committee Tuesday.

Some Republican leaders have questioned the need for House Bill 229, which prevents the teaching of alternative lifestyles, noting that it is already illegal under state law to teach sex education in grades K-8.

Here’s how Republican Rep. Joey Hensley justified his hate bill.

I have two children — in the third- and fourth-grade — and don’t want them to be exposed to things I don’t agree with…even though the state board disallows this now, I’m afraid it does happen, and sex education is talked about in a way that it is acceptable

A reader of The Tennessean writes…

When I was in tenth grade the girl sitting next to me in History class was pregnant with her second child! Both fathered by her step brother. Apparently she wasn’t getting sex education at home and needed it from somewhere.

Another adds…

As usual our state leaders take the “ostrich with it’s head in the sand” approach, avoid reality, and propose laws that would make even the Red Queen in “Alice in Wonderland” question their sanity. They also exist in a time warp. It’s one thing to insist that all law be based on the point of view of the religious white middle class. It’s another to insist it be based on the point of view of the 1970s religious white middle class.

The idea that you can’t say gay in the classroom is absurd. The idea that you can’t teach sex education in grades K-8 is even more ludicrous. Why have sex education at all if you insist it not be taught until, so to speak, the cow is already out of the barn?


Oh Tennessee…you are sliding back to the dark ages. Anti-gay legislation, creationism (Christian I’m sure, not Hindu , etc.) in science classes, guns in bars and churches, pro-bullying. What is next? Let me guess…women’s reproduction rights or our immigrants.

Politicians 0. Non-politicians 3.

Ezra Klein on Increasing Inequality

Early in the recession, there was some talk that the economic crisis would, among other things, slow or even reverse the run-up in inequality. It didn’t. In fact, the recovery, such as it is, has made inequality worse.

The Wall Street Journal reports that new numbers out of the Labor Department show that between the mid-2009 — the technical end of the recession — and the first quarter of 2012, workers in the top 10% of the income distribution saw their wages rise by 7% percent. Workers in the bottom 10% only saw their wages rise by 2.5%.

For comparison’s sake, between 2003 and 2007, workers in the top 10% saw their incomes grow by 12.9%, and workers in the bottom 10% saw their incomes grow by 8.4%. In both cases, the “growth” gap between the richest Americans and the poorest Americans was 4.5%.

And that’s just wages. Financial markets and corporate profits, which many of the richest Americans depend on for their wealth, have recovered far faster than the labor market or the housing sector. So if you’re a middle-class American family that owns your home, your main asset likely hasn’t recovered, and you may still be out of a job. If you’re a wealthy investor, your portfolio has likely reached new heights, or come very near to it. That’s exacerbated inequality on the wealth side, which we don’t track as closely, but which arguably matters more as it governs the sort of investments families can make in their future.