Hand Spanking New


What’s the matter with Kansas?

No, really. What’s the matter? An editorial this week in the LA Times correctly said that Kansas had gone “off the deep end” in coming crazy close to passing a sweeping discrimination bill that would have made the basic tasks of life impossible for gay Kansans. The bill went so far that, the editorial stated, it would have been possible to “allow a county clerk to refuse to help a gay couple with paperwork associated with a will or a real estate transaction.” And, as Slate pointed out (after calling the bill “an abomination”), if any gay person sues for discrimination because, for example, they were turned away at a movie theater or restaurant, “they won’t just lose; they’ll be forced to pay their opponent’s attorney’s fees.”

Well, Kansas sure isn’t shy about letting the world know how it feels about gay people. But the logic of Kansans has always been hard to figure out. As Thomas Frank wrote in his 2004 book What’s the Matter with Kansas?: “Push them off their land, and the next thing you know they’re protesting in front of abortion clinics. Squander their life savings on manicures for the CEO, and there’s a good chance they’ll join the John Birch Society.”

But perhaps there are signs that Kansas is trying really, really hard to be less enigmatic. That might explain House Bill 2699.

House Bill 2699, affectionately known as the “spanking bill,” aims to codify into law just how hard and how often you can hit your kids. (Turns out it’s up to 10 open-hand smacks on the covered buttocks; bruising is allowed.)

Kansas parents were (apparently) terrified that, according to the supportive testimony of a deputy state attorney, “Children have become fully aware of what they can legally get away with” and “act out of control and get away with it because they can play the abuse or battery card.” Well here comes the spanking bill to fix all of that! Kansas parents: fear no longer that you’ll be tossed into prison for giving your kid a red hand print on her ass.

The bill goes so far as to permit others — teachers, caregivers — to smack kids too, if they have the parents’ permission. Strangely, it even allows this on kids up to 18 years old (or older, if they’re still in high school). While we were waiting for someone to introduce the bill clarifying how hard these full-grown 18 year-olds are allowed to hit back, a commenter on Wonkette pointed out that, in Kansas, 18 year-olds can get gun permits. Things in Kansas just got really interesting.

Or… almost. On Thursday, the spanking bill died in committee. BUT, fear not. Given how looney things can get in ‘Merica these days, we’re pretty sure we won’t have to wait long to see some other very interesting bills. So what’s the next thing Red States will try to make legal — simply because they like to do it? What do YOU think?

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