Here's a story from the two states that come immediately to mind when someone refers to "the American heartland". Put the USA on a dart board, and the bullseye is right there on the Kansas and Nebraska border. And on the election map, they're the center of the big red zone. The odds of gay marriage ever being permitted in Kansas have got to be lower than the odds of Bill Gates converting to using Lotus Notes, but it's perfectly legal for a 22 year old man to marry a 14 year old girl there. And in Nebraska, where one of their greatest fears must be that the full faith and credit clause of the US Constitution might force them to recognize gay marriages performed in other states, the Attorney General is willing to discount the legality and sanctity of the Kansas marriage and prosecute said man for statutory rape. And the parents, no doubt fine upstanding citizens representing the epitome of "traditional American values"... don't get me started about their role in this!
I'm not making this up! Read about it here.
FALLS CITY, Neb., Aug. 29 - On Sunday evening, Matthew Koso tipped three ounces of formula into his 4-day-old daughter's mouth, then hoisted her atop his shoulder in hope of a burp. On Tuesday morning, he is scheduled to be arraigned on charges for which the newborn is the state's prime piece of evidence.
Mr. Koso is 22. The baby's mother, Crystal, is 14. He is charged with statutory rape, even though they were wed with their parents' blessing in May, crossing into Kansas because their own state prohibits marriages of people under 17.
I'm not sure which state is more in the wrong, here. I'm not sure which state is being more hypocritical. More than anything, the whole situation is evidence that the folks in the heartland are perfectly good at screwing up their own traditional American values. They don't need any help with that from us Blue State Liberals.
1. Jon johnston08/31/2005 09:22:13 AM
So, did you post this on my behalf, or what?
The only thing this is proof of is that every state has an Attorney General who wants that position so they can grab enough headlines to become governor, a senator, or some other higher position. And here, you've assisted in the process. Perhaps a more worthy study would be to locate a state that has an AG that doesn't go around looking for cases on which to grandstand.
I will conclude by making the equally asinine statement that at least people in the heartland have values that they're capable of screwing up.
2. Richard Schwartz08/31/2005 10:51:11 AM
I posted this on nobody's behalf but my own, Jon. Frankly, I don't know you well enough to have made a judgement about whether this would interest you or not, not to mention whether you would "benefit" from anything I might have to say about it. I can't even conceive of what "hot button" I've pressed to make you decide to say that. I know you're not in Kansas or Nebraska, though perhaps you're from one of those states originally... but I have no idea.
Yeah, I made a broad generalization, but I said nothing about you or any other specific individual. If you identify yourself as being part of the "heartland" and object to my lumping you in with a generalization, I can accept that. I invite you to change my knowledge and perception of what the "heartland" is, what it represents, and how it is portrayed by the parties and pundits.
That's why comments are open.
As it happens, I agree about the Nebraska AG in particular. Knowing nothing more about him than what I have read about this case, I say he's grandstanding. I recognize that he is grandstanding to a constituency, and on the assumption that he is a savvy politician and based on other things I know about American poliitics, recent and past, I have concluded some things about that constituency and it's electoral strength.
I even agree about AG's in general being politically-motivated grandstanders, though I think we might be able to find one AG as a counter-example if we tried really hard, but there's far more wrong with this situation than just one typically bad AG. There's bad law, lack of law-maker responsibility, plenty of citizen responsibility for electing and re-electing bad law-makers, extraordinary lack of parental responsibility, and hypocrisy galore.
And as to whether I've "assisted with the process", that's true to the extent that there's no such thing as bad publicity... but there's nothing I can do about that. There is such a thing as bad silence, and I'm convinced that in this case the publicity I've given to one AG is a far lesser problem than the fact that the GOP lays claim to being strong on family values based on a widespread but utterly false perception that middle America's laws and lawmakers are more moral and more observant of traditions that are inherently superior to what we tend to favor in other parts of the country.
3. Jon Johnston08/31/2005 04:18:19 PM
This is what I get for looking at the New Orleans news and your blog simultaneously...... Generally when I'm posting on other people's blogs, it's will I'm doing something else at the same time. For example, right now I'm trying to figure out what to do for a backup strategy at a small biz client that's overrunning their existing infrastructure. Cost/benefit/architecture, and responding to you. Isn't that nice? Ha!
BTW, I am from Nebraska originally. The nature of Nebraskans is that we tend to leave other people alone as long as they're not messing with us first. I don't think you see a lot of stories about Nebraskans marching out to tell the rest of the world how stupid it is when they do something we view as stupid (yea, I know it's a generalization). Probably the same is true for Kansans, Iowegians (Iowans), and most of the other states in the central US.
Our view of the coasts is that they are continually trying to tell us we're doing something stupid, or that we are stupid. They don't do it through exporting religion, they do it through exporting their politics. You might be able to compare Midwestern Religious evangelicalism with Coastal political evangelicalism and come up with something.
Perhaps our viewpoints in this area are more due to an inherent defense mechanism than reality. Being a right-winger, I could point out a hundred cases where the GOP's values were being upheld more than the Democrats, and you could do vice versa.
Well, I was going further with this, but you get the idea. Duty calls.
Take care, Rich.
4. Richard Schwartz09/01/2005 07:14:27 PM
Well, Jon, if it's any consolation, the New York Times editorial page, that pinnacle of Liberal Media, thinks that Nebraska's AG is the only sensible one in this story. So even though you and I know they're wrong about that, at least they're not dissing Nebraska the way I did. They think that Kansas is way wrong, but they also point out that the law in Massachusetts, the Bluest of the Blue States, is almost as bad.
So I guess I'm not quite toeing the Liberal line on this one.