After the past few weeks of legislative activity I find myself absolutely confused and appalled by what has been going on in Topeka. So much so that I am almost at the point of wondering whether we are witnessing the utter breakdown of our representative form of government. I cannot help but ask whether some of the bills introduced and the statements made by some legislators are actually what their constituents want.
Has our state become so intolerant that we now want to allow overt discrimination against people who are different from us? Have we actually reached a point when we believe bizarre Internet stories of children’s minds being drained by nefarious machines operated by school officials? Have we become so intolerant and hardened to human suffering that we no longer consider those who are different from us to be human beings?
I love Kansas. I came here 20 years ago because I believed in what Kansas stood for. Kansas is the state that valued tolerance and hated slavery so much that it endured attack after attack from pro-slavery forces coming across the border from Missouri. The “border wars” were not about basketball; they were about human dignity and an abhorrence of treating human beings as being less than human.
I embraced the Kansas populist tradition, the tradition that held that big business would not be permitted to manipulate and oppress ordinary citizens in the name of profits. I loved the independent tradition of Kansans, men like William Allen White, Alf Landon, and Dwight Eisenhower. I am not a liberal. I am a libertarian. I believe that government should not interfere in people’s lives beyond the minimum necessary for good government. That does not mean that I believe that government should condone and enforce bigotry and ignorance. But it seems that there are members of our Legislature who think that they have a mandate to support bigotry and impose their values on the whole population however immoral they may be.
The Legislature’s attempt to legalize bigotry against gay Kansans is both wrong and reprehensible. The Legislature’s efforts to force unhappy people to stay married is horribly wrong. Gays are human. Unhappy people make bad spouses and worse parents.
The Legislature’s efforts to continue to favor large corporations at the expense of the common people goes against everything that Kansas and Kansans have stood for since our state was founded. Where is compassion? Where is charity? Where is the Christian obligation to care for our brothers and sisters? How can the Legislature continue on the path it is on in the face of protests not only by ordinary citizens but by our clergy? The madness must stop. Those who hold high office must accept their responsibilities. If they do not, our state, its people and its future are in grave peril.