Is Oklahoma House Bill 2186 really populist puffery?
This week’s headline in the “You Can’t Make This Stuff Up” section of your daily news comes from Copan, Oklahoma, arguably the reddest corner of the reddest of red states, and the story of Oklahoma House Bill 2186.
First, what is this bill?
Sponsored by Republican state Rep. Kevin West, HB 2186 says: “It shall be unlawful for [any] person to engage in an adult cabaret performance which is harmful to minors or to organize or authorize the viewing of [such a performance] on public property or in a location where a minor could view the … performance.”
The legislation goes on to define “adult cabaret performance” as activities that involve “topless dancers, exotic dancers, strippers, drag performers, or similar entertainers.” The bill then adds, “It shall be unlawful for a person to organize or authorize, on public property,” any such events where the “performance is harmful to [said] minors.”
Mr. West clarifies that the phrase “harmful to minors” is already defined in Oklahoma law as any situation where minors are exposed to “nudity, sexual conduct, [or] sexual excitement” and any event designed to “appeal to a prurient interest in sex to minors.” And how do we define “prurient”? According to Oklahoma statute, it is anything that the average adult would find “patently offensive to [the] prevailing standards in the community with respect to what [the average adult] finds suitable.”
Now, even though no rational person could conclude that this bill restricts anything but the sexual exploitation of Oklahoma’s children, several groups aligned with the oh-so-tolerant priesthood of the rainbow vigorously opposed the measure. One such organization, 2SLGBTQ+Causes, issued this statement: “Drag isn’t the State’s to regulate.”
By the way, for those who can’t keep up with the endless machinations of the Church of Holy Wokeness, the acronym 2SLGBTQ+ stands for Two-Spirit, Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer or Questioning, plus any other libidinous derivations that can be contrived by what the Apostle Paul so rightly defined 2,000 years ago as the “reprobate mind.”
It should surprise no one that nearly all left-leaning lawmakers rushed like lobotomized lemmings to echo the alphabet-soup nonsense of the LGBTQIASJWBLMCRT cabal, but surely no thinking Republican would be so unmoored, right? Think again. Consider Oklahoma state Rep. Judd Strom, the Copan Republican who voted against even letting the bill out of committee.
Mr. Strom hails from a very rural and red district of, as described above, the reddest of red states. He represents a community that hasn’t voted for a Democrat for president in five successive elections. Yet he voted against a bill that does little more than protect Oklahoma’s children from sexual grooming. How come?
When asked to explain his vote, Mr. Strom averred that such nefarious legislation as HB 2186 would make it illegal for schools in his district to have “powder puff football” events in which male athletes wear female cheerleader uniforms. He added that the bill in question strips parents of their right to make “decisions as to what [events] they want to take [their kids] to.” He concluded by saying he considers the legislation little more than a “populist puff piece.”
Let’s pick Mr. Strom’s argument apart point by point.
First, as to “powder puff football,” dare I suggest that there are many feminists (if not all honest ones) who are as eager as I am to remind Mr. Strom that a bunch of high school boys donning the attire of young girls for the sake of giggles is what the morally enlightened among us call “cultural appropriation”? Justifying a bunch of 50-year-old men “blackfacing” women by pointing to a bunch of 15-year-old boys doing the same thing is hardly the stuff of a sound argument.
Second, let’s address the issue of parents having the right to take their sons and daughters to whatever events they see fit. Really? Are progressives now arguing that a father has the right to take his 5-year-old son to a brothel? Does a mother have the right to take her 8-year-old daughter to a “ladies’ night out” at Chippendales? Surely even the most woke among us understand that there are limits to where we can take our kids, don’t we? Even the local theme park has some age restrictions on given rides. And the last time I was in TGI Fridays, the bar section said, “No one under 21 admitted.”
Finally, there’s the accusation of “populist puffery.” Frankly, this fallacy takes the cake, while its perpetrator tries to eat it too. While falling in line with the crowd, Mr. Strom accuses his opponents of being populists. This smacks of the tolerance police shouting that they can’t tolerate everyone else’s intolerance or, better yet, Congress’ princess of neofascism, Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, accusing her opponents of fascism. One has to wonder if the next shoe to fall from Mr. Strom’s mouth will be that he is sure nothing is sure and that it’s a moral absolute that there are no moral absolutes.
Populist puffery? The phrase that comes to mind is “physician, heal thyself.”
• Everett Piper (dreverettpiper.com, @dreverettpiper), a columnist for The Washington Times, is a former university president and radio host.