A legislative committee has moved a bill that would name the Bible as Louisiana’s “State Book.” Ridiculous. Everybody knows that A Confederacy Of Dunces is the only possible choice for Louisiana State Book. Well, everybody who has proper theology and geometry.
Seriously, this is the kind of stupidity that gives us a bad name. The idea that any legislature, much less the Louisiana one, has so little to do that it has time to consider a category as absurd as “state book” is deeply annoying. Second, it’s precisely the kind of measure that it’s hard to oppose. Do you want your opponent in the next election to tell voters that you voted against the Bible? This, even though you know that naming the Bible as “state book” is bound to be unconstitutional (not to say religiously problematic; which version of the Bible?)? Were I in the legislature, Your Bible-Believing Working Boy would vote against this bill, not only because it insults one’s intelligence, but also for the practical reason that the state has better things to do than to set itself up for a lawsuit it can’t win.
But you know, if my state representative votes for the bill, I won’t hold it against him. Even though it probably wouldn’t hurt him with his constituents to vote against it — he’s a good guy, and local people know him — you can’t be too sure with these emotional culture-war issues. It’s why the Baton Rouge metro council can’t bring itself to cast a symbolic vote against Louisiana’s sodomy law, which was thrown out by the Supreme Court’s 2003 Lawrence decision. This became an issue locally last summer when the parish sheriff’s office was caught charging gay men with sodomy, even though there are no valid anti-sodomy laws on the books. On the one hand, I don’t think it’s that big a deal for the state legislature to formally remove a law that the Supreme Court has already removed. On the other hand, given the embarrassment, not to say the injustice, of what the East Baton Rouge parish sheriff’s office did, the least the metro council could have done would have been to have registered their objection with this symbolic vote.
But a majority of the council couldn’t bring itself to do this, I’m guessing because they feared an opponent in the next election telling voters that Council Member So-and-so is pro-sodomy.
On balance, I would have liked to have seen the metro council vote for the resolution to formally take the sodomy law off the books, simply so the council could demonstrate its displeasure with the sheriff’s outrageous behavior. But there’s a part of me that would have abstained from such a vote simply because I wouldn’t have wanted to dignify pointless resolutions like this, or like the state book proposal — legislative acts that change nothing, but only exist as status markers.