Commentary: Texas Republican platform – Teh Stupid, it burns. (Update: Mistake? I’m skeptical)

I draw your attention to one of the most hypocritical and embarrassing documents I’ve seen in a long time: the 2012 Republican Party of Texas Report of Platform Committee and Rules Committee.

We Oppose Critical Thinking – The Republican Party of Texas GOP (You Don’t Say…)

The full document is here (PDF). It’s painful to read. But I did it. There were at least a dozen times where I stopped to physically close my jaw that had dropped open. I nearly gave up that many times as well because it was the reinforcement of one giant stereotype of Americans (epitomized by Texas) as overly religious, unreasonable, backwards, gun-toting, oil-drilling, cattle-stealing, child-beating, God-fearing, flag-waving, gay-bashing, science-illiterate, dogma-preaching citizens. I excerpted some sections for you to see for yourself the discriminatory, short-sighted, anti-reason and anti-science ideas in it.

Disclaimer: For all our foreign readers, at least half of Americans would find these items deplorable. We do not fit the mold crafted by this document. I apologize in advance for the political commentary.

We oppose a mandatory animal identification system. Like tagging in case your dog or cow wanders off? Isn’t that common sense unless you want to steal someone’s animals? Just to be fair, they don’t want National IDs for people either.

We call for repeal of requirements that religious organizations send the government any personal information about their contributors. And want to protect their tax exempt status at all costs. Hmm. Lots of power allotted there.

We support judges who strictly interpret the law based on its original intent. So, if we are going by God’s laws… that makes for some pretty draconian measures by today’s ethical standards. Killing of witches shall resume I suppose?

We know that fundamental human rights are inherent to individuals and are granted by God. They “know” in a different way that I know.

Don’t miss the parts that describes what sounds like worship of American and religious symbols like the flag, the confederate flag, and preservation of mention of “God” such as in the Pledge. That meshes well with their very conservative ideas about marriage, homosexuality, and abortion rights. There is a clear sense that religious law (read Christian) is to be respected over all individual rights and over the good of the population.

Control is a big issue. But science is NOT used. And common sense is not either.

We support the availability of natural, unprocessed foods, including, but not limited to, the right to access raw milk. Is someone proposing restrictions to farmers markets? I think they missed the stories that ignorant parents feed their kids raw milk and they get sick. This sort of goes against their ideals about protecting “innocent human life” and “protecting our children”.

All adult citizens should have the legal right to conscientiously choose which vaccines are administered to themselves or their minor children without penalty for refusing a vaccine. So they are pro-anti-vaccination.

Corporal punishment is effective and legal in Texas. Effective in promoting corporal punishment generation after generation.

This part was harrowing: American Identity Patriotism and Loyalty. They want to instill patriotism? This is disgusting. Patriotism should be naturally grown, like your non genetically modified foods you advocate. Not manipulated and forced.

Then, the education section which advocates basic education but for GOD’S SAKE DON’T THINK! And don’t diss the inerrancy of the Bible.

Controversial Theories – We support objective teaching and equal treatment of all sides of scientific theories. We believe theories such as life origins and environmental change should be taught as challengeable scientific theories subject to change as new data is produced. Teachers and students should be able to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of these theories openly and without fear of retribution or discrimination of any kind. Yeah, standard Creationism scumbaggery.

The ridiculousness of these speak for themselves:

We urge Congress to repeal government-sponsored programs that deal with early childhood development.

We oppose the teaching of Higher Order Thinking Skills (HOTS) (values clarification), critical thinking skills and similar programs that are simply a relabeling of Outcome-Based Education (OBE) (mastery learning) which focus on behavior modification and have the purpose of challenging the student’s fixed beliefs and undermining parental authority.

We urge school administrators and officials to inform Texas school students specifically of their First Amendment rights to pray and engage in religious speech, individually or in groups, on school property without government interference. We urge the Legislature to end censorship of discussion of religion in our founding documents and encourage discussing those documents.

They expect a lot from parents: We recognize parental responsibility and authority regarding sex education. We believe that parents must be given an opportunity to review the material prior to giving their consent. Except they don’t.

These two strategies work well. To grow a population, perhaps.
We urge legislators to prohibit reproductive health care services, including counseling, referrals, and distribution of condoms and contraception through public schools.

We oppose any sex education other than abstinence until marriage.

We call for truckers working within the state of Texas to enjoy the full benefits of the Texas Concealed Handgun License law irrespective of unreasonable and intrusive federal regulations. Watch out for trigger happy truckers.

We affirm that the public acknowledgement of God is undeniable in our history and is vital to our freedom, prosperity and strength. We pledge our influence toward a return to the original intent of the First Amendment and toward dispelling the myth of separation of church and state. We urge the Legislature to increase the ability of faith-based institutions and other organizations to assist the needy and to reduce regulation of such organizations. And… how is this different from the Taliban’s ideas about religious laws?

Equality of All Citizens – We deplore all discrimination. Nevermind the parts about limiting the rights of homosexuals, people who don’t speak English, non-citizens, children and women.

We oppose actions of social agencies to classify traditional methods of discipline, including corporal punishment, as child abuse. Where is the line? Guess the parent can beat the kid in the name of discipline as much as they want. It’s not abuse, it’s disclipine.

We encourage state and federal governments to severely prosecute illegal dealers and manufacturers of addictive substances and pornography. Faith based rehabilitation programs should be emphasized.

We support immediate removal of government barriers to free market solutions to production and distribution of energy including restrictions on: federal gas mileage standards (CAFÉ standards) and fuel blends

I’m sorry I subjected you to that. But I needed to make an example out of the sheer idiocy of this group of “leaders”. Shame on you, Texas. That’s not sane and that’s not American.

UPDATE (29-Jun-2012) Now they say the part against critical thinking was a mistake.

Contacted by TPM on Thursday, Republican Party of Texas (RPT) Communications Director Chris Elam said the “critical thinking skills” language made it into the platform by mistake.

“[The chairman of the Education Subcommittee] indicated that it was an oversight of the committee, that the plank should not have included ‘critical thinking skills’ after ‘values clarification,’” Elam said. “And it was not the intent of the subcommittee to present a plank that would have indicated that the RPT in any way opposed the development of critical thinking skills.”

Considering the rest of the document, you’ll excuse me for laughing at this pathetic excuse.

  12 comments for “Commentary: Texas Republican platform – Teh Stupid, it burns. (Update: Mistake? I’m skeptical)

  1. KC3824
    June 29, 2012 at 11:27 AM

    If I had attempted to create a straw-man argument against Republicans, it would sound something like this. It’s sad that my straw-man is their reality.

  2. June 29, 2012 at 1:40 PM

    “We support judges who strictly interpret the law based on its original intent. So, if we are going by God’s laws… that makes for some pretty draconian measures by today’s ethical standards. Killing of witches shall resume I suppose?”

    -I am not sure if this is a reference to god’s or biblical law. I think this is more in reference to a strict constructionist idea of interpretating the law and in particular consitutional law, and a shot at the old legal debate of the judiciary interpreting vs. making new law. This goes further than just reviewing the limits in a constitution authority, but also reading legislation. Is the constituion a living document? How much legislative intent ought to be read into the black and white letter of a statute, etc. Usually, the agrument gets hot during constitutional arguments. (In my humble legal opinion I think this is a trope since if you disagree with a decision it’s “making law” and if you agree “its mere interpretation.” I think both sides of the political spectrum are guilty of this.)

    I grant that a lot of god in government types profess a strict construction of the law since it oftens end up in their favor as they see it. The Terry Schiavo debocle showed suddenly both sides flipped how they read the law to have an outcome in thier favor.

    While this is not a skeptical view point, but my personal political view: I hate, hate, hate the idea of removing jurisdiction from the courts of certain hot button issue at the end of P-4 to P-5. It is likely legal given the wording of the constitution, but such a cheat. If that every happens it will be a black, black day in the U.S.A.

  3. Bones
    June 29, 2012 at 7:15 PM

    That document will be good to save, you know, for people to read again in 50 years and laugh at. Kinda like that, “How To Be a God Wife” thing:
    http://www.snopes.com/language/document/goodwife.asp

    Err, waitaminute – did you say it’s from TEXAS? Uhhh… well then ever mind, they probably WON’T think it’s quaint in Texas in 50 years, because Texas doesn’t progress. Silly me.

  4. Massachusetts
    June 30, 2012 at 1:04 PM

    They mentioned the punishment of pornographers right along side drug dealers, as though the two are equivalent. So I ask, does anyone know, are there actual legitimate studies that say pornography is harmful to people? Clearly many find pornography distasteful, and clearly there’s a wide range of materials that pass as pornography, from relatively mild to very very wild. I know that many feminists as well as conservatives feel pornography is detrimental to women and society, perhaps for different reasons. I spoke with a woman recently (yes a woman) who disagreed strongly, saying that there may be a correlation but no evidence for a cause and effect relationship between pornography and violence against women or the mistreatment of women. So are these concerns culturally based hype without good evidence backing them up, or are they valid concerns proven by valid studies and therefore something to be taken seriously? Please publish links to studies or reports on studies that may shed light on this question.

  5. June 30, 2012 at 3:41 PM

    Hey! I’m a gun-toting citizen! Don’t lump me in with those people!

    Pretty sad (and scary) reading, even more so as they sincere in their intent.

  6. spookyparadigm
    June 30, 2012 at 4:11 PM

    Thou shall not bear false witness.

    Huh, I guess it’s nine commandments they want to put up, then.

  7. Peebs
    July 3, 2012 at 2:17 PM

    Rather than calling it ‘H.O.T.S’ may I change the acronym ever so slightly?

    Southern Hicks Imbecilic Thinking Skills?

    That acronym just seems so much more apt.

    • July 3, 2012 at 3:25 PM

      No name calling please. It’s against commenting policy.

  8. July 3, 2012 at 2:26 PM

    and if not for prohibition there would be no “drugs problem” and no dealers, in their stead a more useful assessment of social and medical needs by the appropriate professional bodies. The bizarre notion of criminalising what are basically sick people is a medieval idea like bear-baiting and visits to Bedlam, which we now see naturally to be not welcome norms in a civilised society, that’s the kind of enlightened and compassionate and honest culture I want to live in. Thank you.

  9. jk
    July 3, 2012 at 4:12 PM

    I oppose just about everything they stand for. But I also oppose this lame, bigoted comedy routine masquerading as skeptical commentary. You are so busy being snarky that you get some things just plain wrong, such as what “strict interpretation” means in legal terms. You also fail to understand that they appear to be referring to specific educational programs, such as Head Start, that actually do have dubious quantifiable outcomes–something that should concern a skeptic. There are many things hear to criticize, but you cannot argue without comprehending. Simply joshing around about “ridiculousness” that “speaks for itself” is itself illogic unbecoming of a critical thinker.

    • July 3, 2012 at 6:38 PM

      It’s patently ridiculous. Creationism, anti-vax, global warming denialism? Complete anti-science nonsense.

      I”m not joshing around, this is crap!

      While Head Start as a program may or may not be successful (you could have posted evidence for that) and it does not have to do with the actual education part, there are serious consequences to stopping early childhood education and sex education.

  10. William Bartkus
    July 8, 2012 at 7:00 AM

    I don’t see the problem with the “equality of all citizens” part. Do they REALLY limit the rights of women and non-english speakers or is this an embellishment to support the knuckle dragging right winger image? I’m skeptical.

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