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O Brother Russell, where art thou?


Ron Black March 18th, 2010

A movement is afoot within the Republican Party in Oklahoma to create an invisible force field around the state. That force field would mean we in Oklahoma could pretty much snub our nose at anything ...

A movement is afoot within the Republican Party in Oklahoma to create an invisible force field around the state. That force field would mean we in Oklahoma could pretty much snub our nose at anything we find distasteful oozing from the cesspool that is our nation's capital.

The Oklahoma Legislature has drifted hard to the right, and for the most part, Republicans can rejoice. Most of us are all about good government, fiscal sanity and increased freedom. Despite the ludicrous bills requiring DNA sampling at felony arrests (which will get overturned at the Supreme Court level) and the methamphetamine registry (which will also get overturned), among others, there is a movement to create fiscal sanity in our workers' comp system, and those are good.

State Sen. Steve Russell, R-Oklahoma City, although a decorated veteran, has truly overstepped the bounds of common sense and good government with Senate Bill 1965 (originally a "schools bill") to allow local law enforcement the discretion not to cooperate with federal authorities in investigations of so-called "hate crimes." To the average, red-meat-eating conservative, it sounds sexy, a wonderful way to tell the Obama administration that Oklahoma knows best.

But the rule of unintended consequences dictates otherwise.

Like a scene out of the movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?," let's pretend for a moment a rural law enforcement officer is a part of a "certain secret society" who doesn't believe a lynching is, well, a lynching. According to Russell's bill, that member of the "certain secret society" would not be required to cooperate in the investigation with the federal authorities.

Yet, when that same local law enforcement official has his community ravaged by floods, snowstorms, ice storms or even a tornado, he would be more than happy to apply for federal assistance, right? Because we certainly know that our state government and senators, such as Russell, wouldn't want to actually use the Rainy Day Fund for an actual rainy day.

The hypocrisy stacks up so fast at our state Capitol that you need wings to rise above it.

I have my own issues regarding "hate crimes," and believe that any unjustified act of violence against another human being could be considered a de facto "hate crime." As a matter of fact, I think the term "hate crime" is silly to begin with, but the law of the land is what it is, and we have to work within the system at a federal level to change the laws.

I wonder what Congresswoman Mary Fallin thinks of this "¦ but I digress.

At the end of the day, whether we believe "hate crime" legislation is right or wrong, the aggregate result of this type of legislation is an increased dynamic tension between law enforcement agencies.

My so-called conservative brethren like to talk a good fight when it comes to 10th Amendment issues, but it takes only a few raindrops that turn to ice before they are on their knees begging the federal government for aid. God forbid another tornado hit, such as the 1999 twister, rips part of Russell's district to pieces. Do you think he'll be asking to tap the Rainy Day Fund, or will he be holding a press conference, demanding the evil federal government help his constituents?

To borrow another line from "O Brother," "Is you is, or is you ain't, my constituency?"

Black is a consultant living in Edmond and founder of Wild Oklahoma TV & Radio.


 
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