I love Kansas. I was born and raised here. I have lived here all of my life. I know my way around the state. I know most of the laws and most of the requirements of Kansas citizens well enough that I can usually stay out of trouble. I also know most of the unwritten laws of Kansas, some of which I enjoy breaking occasionally. But even in Kansas, there are troublesome folks I have to tolerate.
The most famous troublesome Kansas folk are the Westboro Baptist Church members, the hate-mongering, sign-carrying, anti-gay "protesters" who show up everywhere with their message of ignorance and intolerance. They are in Topeka all the time, and anywhere anytime there might be a crowd.
Over the years, as the citizens in Topeka learned to ignore their disgusting signs, the message became more offensive and objectionable, if that is even possible. When Fred's flock created new signs that read "Fag Air Force, Fag Navy, Fag Army, Fag Marines", it took the local outrage back to previous levels. When our young men began coming home with injuries sustained in Iraq, the WBC made signs that read "Thank God for IED's". While I find all of their signs offensive, that particular one got to me. I simply had to drive away from their day-glo signs if I happened to see the fools on a street corner in time to avoid driving past. All I could imagine was driving my truck right into their smug, hateful little group of "protesters" and watching them run for their lives. They have small children with them, also holding signs, which is the most despicable sight of all. No one wants to harm children, which is precisely why they have their unfortunate children on the street corners. Like it not, I have learned to tolerate Fred's crazy, in-your-face signs. Fred's hate mongering is one enormous lesson in tolerance. Perhaps Fred is doing God's work after all, just not in the way Fred imagines.
Kansas routinely makes the national news, thanks to Fred and his crazies. But there are others. In recent times, a school board was elected that attempted to replace evolution with creationism in our schools' science classes. That took several years to sort out, and it is not resolved forever. More moderate minds must be ever vigilant.
Those vigilant minds slacked off in the last election and Sam Brownback was elected governor. A mere 30% of eligible voters was all it took to elect him to the state's highest office. Thanks to the slackers who did not vote, Kansas has made national news twice in the last week - once for making the list of states with the craziest gun laws. Kansas law allows concealed guns to be carried into our schools in certain circumstances. Secondly, Sam used his line-item veto to destroy the Kansas Arts Commission. Originally he was going to cut its already embarrassingly small annual budget of $800,000, leaving $200,000 as one-time amount to seed a privately funded arts council, but that seed money was cut as well. Kansas is the only state in America without an arts council now.
Brownback is just getting started. Next year he will cut funding for public broadcasting. He has destroyed scores of jobs already and as far as I can tell, the only new jobs he has created are for more attorneys to prosecute sex offenders - and not just the truly dangerous sex offenders, but even 18 year old teenagers who have consensual sex with their younger high school sweethearts.
It is disturbing on so many levels. Brownback has made no secret that he intends to appoint people in high places who share his fundamentalist Christian beliefs, and implement "faith based" oversight. Christian charity can work miracles, but that is a far cry from "faith based" programs running our state government.
All that comes to mind is a quote from Justin Halprin's father: "Yeah, democracy ain't so fun when it fucks you, huh?"