The Daily Parker

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Unfit for public office

Without Andrew Sullivan, I might miss some of the more outrageous events in public discourse. Take, for example, the Kansas House Speaker—i.e., the leader of the legislative branch of one of the states here in the U.S.—two weeks ago not-so-subtly called for the President's death:

"Pray for Obama. Psalm 109:8." That's the slogan an email from [Kansas House Speaker Mike O'Neal (R-Hutchinson) to his Republican colleagues] refers to, a phrase that's become popular in some circles on bumper stickers and other merchandise. The bible passage itself reads, "Let his days be few; and let another take his office." The real controversy arises in the next verse of Psalm 109, however, which continues, "May his children be fatherless and his wife a widow."

In a message accompanying the email, O'Neal writes:

"At last -- I can honestly voice a Biblical prayer for our president! Look it up -- it is word for word! Let us all bow our heads and pray. Brothers and Sisters, can I get an AMEN? AMEN!!!!!!"

Where to begin? I am overwhelmed.

Let's start with Exodus 20:13, yes? But no—you don't need a commandment from a deity to know this one is wrong, even if you're Mike O'Neal.

All right then, how about 18 USC 871? Again, though, that's an appeal to authority, which isn't entirely logical. I mean, if O'Neal were a three-year-old or a dog, a firm correction would help establish appropriate boundaries of behavior. But he's neither, which is unfortunate, because that means Kansans might be stuck with him as the guy representing their state to the outside world, whereas were he a toddler, he could be brought inside and made to stand in a corner until he grew up.

Golden rule, then? Appeal to self-interest (don't make threats against other people lest they make threats against you)? Appeal to politics (you hurt your cause by making statements like that in public)?

Ultimately, I don't think any appeals, logical or illogical, will work in this case. Mike O'Neal has demonstrated that he's not fit to hold public office in the United States. But we live in a republic; his district in Kansas elected him to the state house; and his colleagues elected him to speak for them. So let me broaden the question somewhat, and ask the people of the Kansas 104th: do you really want this guy speaking for you? If so, what the hell's the matter with you?

Now, O'Neal has apologized since the initial incident. But that doesn't diminish my point. He displayed contempt for republican ideals, contempt for democracy, and contempt for common sense with his email. He should not hold public office anywhere in this country.

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