A sorry state

A sorry state

Let it never be said that we here at Odd Dominion HQ (hidden deep beneath the streets of Belmont, with just a modem, a cable-news feed and a donut-delivering pneumatic tube from Spudnuts to sustain us) refuse to acknowledge when our fine Commonwealth’s elected representatives get something right for a change. So kudos to our General Assembly for passing a first-in-the-nation resolution expressing “profound regret” for Virginia’s role in slavery (and even throwing in an apology for “the exploitation of Native Americans” for good measure). Heck, even Delegate Frank “Get Over It” Hargrove jumped on board the peace train, both voting for the mea culpa and co-sponsoring a call for Virginia to officially celebrate the end-of-slavery holiday “Juneteenth.” (What? Of course this was the result of a genuine political and cultural epiphany, and not just a transparent ploy to salvage Hargrove’s shredded reputation. Jeez—must you be so cynical about everything?)

The anti-gay marriage amendment was obviously designed to increase conservative turnout in last November’s elections. So now that Democrat Jim Webb is a senator, what is it good for?

But this kumbaya moment in the old Confederate statehouse got us thinking: Why stop there? I mean, as long as you folks are in an atoning mood, there are all sorts of things the legislature could apologize for. And if you’re looking for suggestions, well guess what? I just happen to have a few:

The anti-gay marriage amendment. You know, we wrote an entire pre-election cover story on why this misbegotten constitutional amendment was a terrible idea—and we sure haven’t changed our minds. But don’t take our word for it: Even David Boaz, executive vice president of the mega-conservative Cato Institute, has complained that the amendment “invites judges to review every private contract, every employee benefit, every legal arrangement between unmarried partners… We should not add language to Virginia’s Bill of Rights that would limit rights rather than expand them.”

But here’s the real kicker: Even though the amendment was obviously designed to help increase conservative turnout in last November’s elections, it didn’t do Republicans one bit of good. Yes, enough Tim Hardaway fans showed up at the polls to pass the thing, but a sizeable chunk of those voters also pulled the lever for Democrat Jim Webb, thereby negating the entire point of this idiotic exercise. C’mon, people! If you’re going to pull these Machiavellian political stunts, can’t you at least execute them with a less embarrassing degree of ineptitude?

Excessive immigrant bashing. A nonstop stream of anti-illegal immigrant bills continues to flood the statehouse, even though few, if any, of these overzealous measures will ever become law. The 2007 session features a bill proposing that local cops should enforce federal immigration laws, one that would criminalize the harboring of illegal immigrants, and one that would make it impossible for many immigrants to receive in-state tuition. And all this on the heels of a recent study (by the Public Policy Institute of California) showing that illegal immigrants are less likely to go to prison than U.S.-born residents of the same ethnic group, and actually help boost pay for legal residents. Besides, if you’re so dead-set against immigration, shouldn’t we just give Virginia back to the Powhatan Indians and be done with it?

Schoolyard bullying. Finally, lawmakers should really apologize for passing House Bill 1727, which seeks to force public school students to obtain parental permission before attending any school-related activity. The point, as far as I can tell, is to minimize participation in gay and lesbian student groups by intimidating teens who don’t want to come out to their parents just yet. I mean, enshrining prejudice in the state constitution is one thing, but picking on schoolkids? That, my friends, is sorry indeed.