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Texas congressman used power of porn to defeat science

May 19, 2010|By TIM ROWLAND

Porn. Is there anything it can't do?

Obviously, I've always had the highest respect for porn, but I never thought it could be used in the United States House of Representatives as a tool against science.

According to Discover Magazine, a Texas (naturally) representative was upset with a budget item initiated by then-President George Bush that funded scientific research as well as math and science education.

The idea was to bring our children up to par with the rest of the world in these fields because, as it stands now, the average American child thinks that algebra is the green stuff that grows on ponds.

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And that's the way it should be, at least in the eyes of Rep. Ralph Hall, R-Texas, who frankly -- and I mean no disrespect, but it has to be said -- looks a lot like one of those fossils that he doesn't want school kids to study.

Of course, we all know about Texas. That's the state that is writing its own history books, because it doesn't like the way events went down in real life.

Personally, I can't wait to read a book where the Alamo was a resounding victory, the Yankees got whipped in the Civil War and America was discovered in 1492 by Sam Houston.

But I am straying too far from the subject of porn, which I certainly do not mean to do.

What happened, see, is that a House committee was about to pass the science and math funding bill, when our friend Rep. Hall used an arcane congressional rule to have the bill recommitted to the committee. At the same time, he attached language that would prevent the federal government from paying a salary to any federal employee caught viewing porn on a government computer. (Surely then, Rep. Hall must have seen nothing wrong with the Democrats' original plan to resort to arcane congressional rules to pass health care, but forget that.)

So the majority in the committee had two choices. It could approve Hall's motion to recommit, which would damage the bill's chances for passage. Or it could vote down Hall's motion and, at the same time, be on the record as voting in favor of government-backed porn.

Personally, I would have done the latter. I seriously have no problem with federal employees viewing porn. In fact, I might even encourage it.

Show me a federal employee who's watching "Swap-Around Sissie" and I'll show you a federal employee who isn't going over my back tax returns looking for "gray areas."

But apparently a majority of the committee didn't feel that way and -- not wanting to have to explain the arcane legislative process (much less the meaning of the word arcane) to constituents -- representatives voted against both science and porn.

So the power of the porn cannot be overestimated and the only mystery is why this tool hasn't been used before to beat down wasteful spending on such things as destitute crippled people and offshore oil platform safety inspectors.

Heck, the whole omnibus health care act itself might have been defeated if someone had thought to attach an amendment requiring National Park Service employees to attend strip clubs.

And why stop there? We could probably rid ourselves of the burden of funding education altogether if we would attach riders forcing all new schools to include S&M dungeons.

Although -- unless I'm serious about this, I might not want to say it too loudly. It might give Texas an idea.

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324, or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com">timr@herald-mail.com. Tune in to the Rowland Rant video under opinion@herald-mail.com">opinion@herald-mail.com, on antpod.com or on Antietam Cable's WCL-TV Channel 30 evenings at 6:30. New episodes are released every Wednesday.

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