Activism by whose definition?

By Rod Haxton, editor

As much as we can honestly say we really enjoyed our youth, we can just as honestly say there were times when it wasn’t so much fun.

I’m sure most every young person has shared the same experience of wanting to do something with their friends only to be told, “No you can’t” by . . . dare we say . . . activist parents.

Yes, we had activist parents who espoused the radical philosophy that “This is our house, our rules. Deal with it.”

We learned to deal with it - at times - and sometimes very reluctantly.

After all these years I think we can finally let it be known that our parents were activists back in a time when being an activist wasn’t considered something that would lead us down the road to socialism and shred the Constitution.

Our parents were activists in that they knew what we were doing a good share of the time and weren’t afraid to tell us what we could and couldn’t do.

It was a good thing. Even good kids have to be nudged in the right direction from time to time.

So it is with our Kansas Legislature. Apparently for all their talk about family values and the importance of a father figure in a household, many of these conservative lawmakers are acting like spoiled brats rolling around in the candy aisle at Walmart every time the courts rule against them.

The problem is always activist judges. It’s never the possibility that these legislators are making bad policy decisions.

The Kansas Constitution, for example, demands that funding for our public education must be “adequate and equitable” so that every student has the same opportunity to learn.

It doesn’t say you can cut funding and pretend you didn’t. It doesn’t say you can put money into KPERS and pretend it’s the same as classroom spending.

Just as I couldn’t convince my father that it was 11:00 p.m. when it was really midnight, neither can the legislature try to fool the courts into thinking the facts aren’t what they are. And even if I had gone to my room threatening to find some parents who would allow me to do whatever I wanted (a thought that crossed my mind more than once), neither can the legislature’s attempt to coerce the courts, or change the selection process of judges, make them right when they aren’t.

This has nothing to do with activist judges, but everything to do with spoiled legislators getting what they want . . . or what they don’t want . . . like gay marriage. Who in their right mind but an activist judge would find it okay for two people who love each other to get married?

Likewise, only an activist judge would say that our obligation to providing a quality education for our youth is greater than providing an income tax free existence for the wealthiest people in our state so they have a little extra money for a trip to the Bahamas.

And only an activist judge would say that it’s okay for people to breathe mercury and other contaminants from coal plants because reducing those emissions is too costly.

Yes, that’s what activist judges do.

But wait a minute. Would an activist judge say the state must meet the financial obligation to provide an adequate education and not take steps to keep that same young person from breathing chemicals that are detrimental to his health?

What happened to our activist court system?

 

And that’s where the thinly veiled hypocrisy of conservative lawmakers is revealed for all to see. Their most basic human failing has been exposed - they want it both ways. Any time they don’t get their way, conservatives holler about activist judges and how we must hand pick members to the court who will rule the way they want.

But the courts are just fine when they allow states to enact restrictive voter registration laws or allow people to carry weapons without being required to have any training.

And the courts are our best friend when they rule that coal power plants may continue to emit unlimited mercury, arsenic, and other pollutants because the EPA failed to consider what it would cost to make the air that we all breathe a little cleaner.

It could also be argued - and probably will be - that when the Kansas Constitution was drafted those individuals failed to consider how much it would cost to provide an “equitable and adequate” education for all children. Then again, maybe they did consider that and they figured that doing the right thing was worth the cost.

Sometimes activists are that way.

Just as my activist parents were willing to do the right thing, regardless of my threats to move out and find different parents. In the grand scheme of things, they knew that trying to be popular parents would come at a price they were unwilling to pay.

They were right.

It’s too bad that more conservative lawmakers didn’t have parents like mine.

 

Rod Haxton can be reached at editor@screcord.com

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