First off, I’ve got an American Spectator column up this morning on the Kenny Havard mess. Here’s a taste…
The tut-tutting from the feminist crowd and the ink-stained smart set was, of course, baked in the cake — and Havard had to know it was coming when he let fly his amendment. The mistake, as is almost always the case (and Trump, as the exception, has if nothing else shown there is another way), was that he didn’t stand and fight once he put himself in the melee.
He could, and should, have declared his amendment an absurdity at the outset and made a conditional offer to gladly pull it — as soon as someone in the legislature could make the case that the bill itself was any less absurd.
He would have won that argument. There is no nexus between sex trafficking and 20-year old strippers that justifies such a clear arbitrary restraint of trade in a legal profession. And a state legislature in supposedly deep-red Louisiana ought to be full of lawmakers who see that.
Somewhere in Louisiana there is an attractive 20-year-old stripper putting herself through college and earning a degree in political science, or microbiology, or nursing, or accounting, who’s about to become a plaintiff in an interesting constitutional lawsuit thanks to this stupid bill putting her out of a job. One might think she’s not quite as steamed at Havard for his supposed frat-boy sexism as she is at the skirtsuited do-gooders who’ve decided to treat her as a child and thus delay her education until she turns 21.
Even so, people need to get off state Rep. Kenny Havard’s back for his joke amendment about regulating the age and weight of strippers. Come on, people, this is Louisiana, not the Puritan colony of Massachusetts, the People’s Republic of California, or South Feministan.
Kenny Havard, as it happens, is my state representative. He’s a good guy, well-liked in the community. I don’t know him well, but he has always struck me as low-key and modest. I’ve never heard a bad word said about him.
Despite my own deeply conservative views on such matters, I thought Havard’s amendment mandating that strippers be no older than 28 and no heavier than 160 pounds was kind of funny. Eighteen-year-olds are legal adults. No one should be a stripper or patronize strip clubs, but if you’re old enough to die for your country in Afghanistan, you’re old enough to shake your money-maker in a jiggle joint.
I first heard about this story in an e-mail from a New Orleans lawyer friend, a conservative Evangelical whose subject line read: “Love this state!”
Me too, because we have a deep appreciation for the absurd. When I tell Yankee friends that St. Francisville, my hometown, used to be home to a drag queen who had his own float in the Christmas parade, they think I’m lying. But it’s true — and we still would have her if she hadn’t gotten into that hot mess at the haunted plantation and ended up skipping town under cover of darkness.
Louisiana is backwards and eccentric. Alas, some folks appreciate this more than others.
Reacting hotly to Havard’s prank, state Rep. Julie Stokes, a Kenner Republican, fumed, “Looking out over this body, I’ve never been so repulsed to be a part of it.”
Really? Rep. Stokes was elected in 2013, and was part of the Legislature during the last years of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s fiscally disastrous term. If she finds Kenny Havard’s joke more offensive than the catastrophic economic mismanagement of the state under her party’s governance, she needs to readjust her sensitivities.
To us, the Havard case is instructive because it shows how cowardly and how uncommitted to limited government and individual freedom our supposedly “conservative” legislature is. To Dreher, it’s about how stupid political correctness is…
Advocate columnist Stephanie Grace angrily speculated, “Is this what it would be like to live in Donald Trump’s America?”
Look, I can’t stand Trump. He’s a boor and a cretin. But a lot of people like the guy because they are sick of our politically correct culture that treats ordinary dissent, or misdemeanors in the matter of manners, as a war crime.
The Obama administration last week declared that henceforth, public schools must let transgender kids use the toilet and changing facility of their choice, as well as play on the sports team of their preferred gender, or face a federal civil rights lawsuit. In its rhetoric, it has turned school locker rooms into the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and if you object, you are a bigot.
This is radical, and it will affect every public school and university in Louisiana. But hey, let’s all take to the fainting couch over Kenny Havard’s mildly frattish sense of humor. No doubt the Louisiana Legislature is not the most enlightened bunch that ever drew breath. But the national hissy-fit over Havard’s joke only serves to prove his point — and Donald Trump’s.
The whole thing is well worth a read.
And by the way, something else on this controversy that needs to be addressed is this idea that somehow because Kenny Havard is a Republican that shows Republicans are a bunch of sexists. Well, the first jokester on the House floor who made a crack about how the bill needed a maximum age for a stripper to go with the minimum age was Sam Jones – John Bel Edwards’ floor leader in the House. If Edwards wants to score partisan points over this donnybrook then he damn well ought to fire Jones over it.
We’re told that among a number of the legislators on the House floor Wednesday, the sentiment was that the underlying bill was atrocious – but voting against it was akin to an open invitation to 30 second attack spots about how dissenters are perverts who like watching teenage strippers.
That’s not good enough. Perhaps we need a shipment of testosterone pills sent to the legislature. And a political consultant for Havard so he can make correct points and fight the good fight without needing us and Dreher to defend him against the army of social-media harpies besetting him at present.