Ignorance gone to seed

My late friend, Derry Brownfield, used to describe some government practices as “ignorance gone to seed.” Here’s an example, and Derry’s description might be too kind.
A few minutes ago, at 5:28 p.m., the House of Representatives press office put out a news release that Rep. Joshua Peters wants the House to debate one of the most important bills of this legislative session in secret. The news release says Peters “believes he and his colleagues need to exclude outside influences in order to have a productive dialogue focused on the best interests of Missouri children.”
This is outlandish. Unforgiveable. Gutless.
What’s his reasoning? The news release quotes him:
“This is a vitally important discussion that shouldn’t involve lobbyists or interest groups or any of the external influences that too often drive education discussions away from what really matters – the best interests of our young people. Instead, we need to sit down together as a legislative body and have an honest, thorough dialogue about what we can do to ensure every child in Missouri receives a quality education. What we have had in the past is lobbyists and even senators pressuring members of the House, in the halls and the very side galleries. It makes a mockery of having a serious, free and open debate. On such a serious issue as this I would prefer to see less meddling from special interests and more serious legislating.”
Think of what this man is saying. His statement indicts himself and his fellow legislators as being so weak and so under the thumb of pressure groups and pressure individuals that they are incapable of honestly discussing a vitally important issue within the chamber of the Missouri House.
Let’s get something very straight.
Political courage is not found behind closed doors.
Public policy written by those entrusted by voters should never be debated out of the view and away from the eyes and ears of that public and its representatives.
A secret session of the Missouri House would be a disgrace.
Peters tries to justify his idea by saying (according to the press release), “I believe everything we do as a legislative body should be done in the public eye, but the critical importance of this issue dictates that we take extraordinary measures to ensure it is discussed fairly and honestly, and away from the external forces that have too often caused these discussions to fall apart in the past.”
He might think the school transfer bill is a “critical” piece of legislation. But if he lacks the courage to discuss it “fairly and honestly,” and if he thinks the sanctity of the House chamber where lobbyists are not permitted on the floor is not far “away from the external forces,” he needs to find another line of work.
It is 5:55 p.m.
It is best that this observer stop writing before he says what he really thinks.

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One thought on “Ignorance gone to seed

  1. “Democracy dies behind closed doors.”– Judge Damon Keith, Detroit Free Press v. Ashcroft, 303 F.3d 681 (August 26, 2002).

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