In the race to be ignorant, Missouri is determined to set the pace.
The “Don’t Say Gay” bill, which would have ended any discussion of homosexuality at public schools, has drawn national scorn and laughter as it is debated in Jefferson City. It was so silly that it helped nudge state Rep. Zach Wyatt (R-Adair) out of the closet—and the Missouri House. He’s moving to Hawaii to study marine biology.
The latest nonsense now involves a University of Missouri-St. Louis program called the Sue Shear Institute for Women in Public Life that is open to all. It doesn’t cater to Democrats or Republicans, just women who are interested in public service. It also doesn’t dictate that this public service be in politics. It can be civic leadership and guidance of not-for-profit organizations.
Shear served in the Missouri House for 26 years, the longest tenure in Jefferson City by any woman in the state’s history.
But so what says the GOP. The bottom line is that most of its students seem to be liberal women. The UM-St. Louis campus sits in a Democrat stronghold; most of its students don’t come from big money or big-name students.
Rather than support it, many state GOP members want to kill it. What gets me is that GOP women are leading the charge. The debate is dragging down the final days of the legislative session, and no state budget has been passed.
State Sen. Jane Cunningham (R-Chesterfield) is the force behind the drive to deprive the Sue Shear Institute of the $250,000 it has been awarded from the state. Since it's a college program, it does not discriminate as to who can participate. You could be a conservative woman and take classes through the Sue Shear Institute.
But because that isn’t happening, it is looked upon as anti-Republican. We can’t have that in Missouri, can we?
While the amount of money is not large, the statement being made by Cunningham seems to be that no class or idea is safe—even on a college campus—if the majority in Jefferson City doesn’t like it.
Opponents of the Shear Institute say that it is not needed—never mind that there isn’t any kind of program around like it. The GOP really doesn’t have a problem with the program; it seems to have a problem with the people who are taking the courses and using that knowledge in future careers.
That’s dangerously ignorant. But apparently that is part of the state’s new nickname, “The Show-Me-Your-Stupidity State.”
I’ll bet there are a few classes that mention evolution at UM-St. Louis. I wonder how long it will be before the GOP targets them.
Commentary by Alvin Reid