We need a Wall of Shame for the recently-ended special session

We need a Wall of Shame for the recently-ended special session

Berry Craig
Berry Craig

In 2017, the Republican supermajority legislature — egged on by GOP Gov. Matt Bevin — speedily passed  a trio of union-busting bills: a “right to work” law, prevailing wage repeal, and a paycheck deception measure.

United Steelworkers District 8 responded with a combo “Workers’ Rights Wall of Fame – Wall of Shame” banner that showed how every House and Senate member voted on all three bills.

I’d like to see our KY120-AFT brothers and sisters and our friends at KEA come up with something similar on Senate Bill 1 and 2, which the Republicans passed in the just concluded special session.

SB 1 nixes emergency regulations that require masks in public schools and daycare centers, and lets local officials and business owners decide whether to protect students, teachers, and everyday Kentuckians. SB 2 prohibits a statewide mask mandate until June 2023 – not coincidentally when Beshear faces the voters again.

Beshear vetoed both bills to no avail.

“We need legislators who will do what is right by the people of the Commonwealth by proposing sound legislation rather than playing petty politics,” said a statement from KY120. “Yet once again, unsurprisingly, public schools will be left to clean up the mess left by Frankfort. But this time, it’s a matter of life or death.”

“We need legislators who will do what is right by the people of the Commonwealth by proposing sound legislation rather than playing petty politics. Yet once again, unsurprisingly, public schools will be left to clean up the mess left by Frankfort. But this time, it’s a matter of life or death.”

– KY 120 United

Indeed it is. Only mass masking — and more importantly, mass vaccinating — will stop the deadliest pandemic in a century.

Beshear and the state Board of Education tried to do right by Kentuckians. They followed science with mask mandates to keep people out of the hospital and the cemetery.

Republicans chose to ignore science — or to trot out phony science — and pander to their noisy anti-mask and anti-vaxx base. Thus, more Kentuckians are at risk of ending up on the state COVID death roll, which has topped 8,000 and still climbing as COVID surges anew.

Sens. Karen Berg (D-Louisville) nailed SB 2 as a “moral outrage” rooted in partisan politics, not science. “Irresponsible,” said Sen. Reggie Thomas (D-Lexington), aptly describing the measure.

The term "covidiocy" works as well, too. Various Internet sites define a covidiot as “a person who acts like an irresponsible idiot during the COVID-19 pandemic, ignoring common sense, decency, science, and professional advice leading to the further spread of the virus and needless deaths of thousands.”

Covidiots preach “freedom” but they practice “freedumb,” which the online Urban Dictionary defines as “a totally nonsensical and asinine belief (of many Americans) that freedom means you can literally do anything you want, including violating other peoples' rights."

Evidently the Republicans think there’s a covidiot-freedumb majority in Kentucky.

But, dare this lifelong Kentuckian — fully vaxxed and still appropriately masking  — suggest otherwise? An Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research poll conducted last month showed that 6 in 10 Americans favor mandated masking for kids and teachers in K-12 schools.

Could there be a silent majority between Jordan and Jenkins that sides with science and the governor? We’ll know a year from November.

The Steelworkers’ banner reflected “Which Side are You on?” that grand old union song. So would a SB 1 and SB 2 “Wall of Shame.”

This charter member of AFT Local 1360 would be willing to chip in to help pay for it.

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Commentary

Berry Craig

Berry Craig is a professor emeritus of history at West KY Community College, and an author of seven books and co-author of two more. (Read the rest on the Contributors page.)


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