Quien es mas malo: Tennessee vs Arizona

Tennessee and Arizona have been locked in a race to see which state can past the worst, most invasive, least constitutional anti-woman and racist legislation. In case you've lost track of which state is winning the race to the bottom, Skepchick provides a helpful scorecard. Arizona makes a strong showing, but I think that, for the moment, Tennessee is in the lead for most barbaric state in the union.

Also this week, Tennessee senators approved an update to the state’s abstinence-only education policy – which, I should add, doesn’t work seeing as the state has one of the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the country – which would outlaw the teaching of “gateway sexual activity.” I know what you’re thinking: what is this “gateway sex” all the kids are talking about? Is it as awesome as oral?

According to Tennessee legislatures, “gateway sexual activities” are kissing and hand holding. You know, things that small children do. Joyous things that bring us closer together, as humans. Ways we express affection every day. Evil.

The bill would warn teens about the dangers of kissing and hand holding, and prohibit teachers from demonstrating such activities. I’m not really clear on whether that means a teacher would be fired for, say, kissing his wife when she picks him up at the end of the day. And what about the teachers of small children who need their hand held every now and again? Off limits? Again, unsure.

What I am sure about is that a bill effectively warning teens about affection is one of the saddest things I’ve ever heard. But what do you think? Is Arizona worse for increasingly limiting the rights women have over their own bodies, or is Tennessee worse for providing us with a future world full of idiots who think evolution and global warming are myths and holding hands is a sin?

Tennessee vs Arizona: Which is the Worst?


  1. Are they going to purge the schools of books with illustrations or descriptions of children holding hands? Remember, they’re not supposed to teach that sort of thing any more, and teachers who do can be held liable.

  2. civil disobedience. 

    Actually i’d just move, how is 90% of america still living in the 1930’s wtf is keeping people so backwards, why is this even an issue today. 

    People need to be close to other people. People have sex. It’s not bad, it’s part of being human. We’re social animals, and we are not happy without affection, the hand holding and kisses are nearly always more meaningful than sex, and for children they are not even associated with sex yet. By making it taboo you’re making a progression to something bad, if it wasn’t against the rules it’d be fine. 

    It’s alright though public school all have rules against PDA or public displays of affection, so this just puts a ridiculous rule onto the books as law. 

    I just can’t understand this shit.

    1. I vote for a human chain in the style of Hands Across America. That way, the civil disobedience would come built in.

    2. It’s simple: Republicans are fucking insane.

      This particular brand of insanity has been carefully formulated to keep the military-industrial complex primed with fodder, and to ensure the elite are able to rape the entire nation unhindered.

    3.  Didn’t Tennessee just vote on a “Teach the Controversy” law?  Sexual selection is a key part of evolution, so any  teacher ought to be able to protect themselves that way.

      Meanwhile, Arizona gets a lot of economic activity from Spring Training, and you can’t play baseball if you don’t let anyone get to second base.

  3. I’m still convinced Alabama is number one. Nothing screams oppressive regime like making all the “brown” kids routinely show their “papers, please” or Mommy and Daddy are going away forever.

    1. Another vote for Alabama. TAL did a show on it: http://www.thisamericanlife.org/radio-archives/episode/456/reap-what-you-sow. Warning: will make you very angry.

  4. What about shaking hands? Can I get pregnant from shaking a Tennessee legislator’s hand?

    1.  With a name like Scott, probably not, but if you did the baby would have 12 fingers and toes.

  5. I’d like to see AZ switch elections to mid summer. Snowbirds certainly aren’t the whole of the racist vote there, but from living in Phoenix for a few years in the 90’s, I can say that shitheels like Arpaio and McCain would have a harder time getting elected without the snowbirds.

    1. Thats’ a really interesting point Jim.  I’m a Tucsonan and I think that statement might be accurate.  Most of those snow birds are  conservatives  that live out in the burbs and are only in touch with their fellow churchies and their Fox new buddies on daytime TV, not to mention the snowbird Golfers who suck up all our water.

      1. If I ever moved back, Tucson would be way ahead of Phoenix on my list. There’s so much more character and history to the place compared to the strip-mall aesthetic most of Phoenix had when I was there.

        You’ll probably recall where McCain’s “Maverick” nickname came from, then, but for others who might not know how self-manufactured his image is… when he was running for reelection after becoming the poster boy for political corruption during the Keating Five S&L scandal and needed to find something else to remake his image, to bring back his public persona as a navy flier hero and this little Top Gun movie about navy fliers was fresh in the public mind… Tom Cruise’s character was called “Maverick” of course.

        Similarly a friend of mine out there thought people called him Ice because he thought he looked like Val Kilmer, not realizing it was because he looked way more like Vanilla Ice.

    2. Don’t snowbirds usually vote in their winter home?  The ones here spend more time up north than in Palm Springs.

      1.  I wouldn’t be surprised if many of them voted both places, which could explain their preoccupation with voter fraud.

        OTOH, the ones who keep their driver’s licenses up north may be hoist on their own petard by the voter ID requirements they voted for down south.

      2. It probably depends on which state’s residency is better for their finances.

        The retirees around Cincinnati are mostly Florida-bound for winters, and a lot of them switch residency to FL for financial benefits.  When I lived in AZ the snowbirds I knew seemed to be from Minnesota, Michigan, and, oddly, the east coast, so I don’t know about them. Since the season is shorter there, you’re probably right that more of them would keep residency in their summer homes. Plus there’s the militia aspect of some AZ native enclaves.  McVeigh didn’t end up in Kingman randomly.

        1. We get a lot of Minnesotans/Manitobans, but also a lot of people from Oregon and Washington.

  6. They’re right about hand-holding.  But blowjobs are still okay, right? 

    Also:  No mention of Texas??   We can out-Neanderthal anybody, and y’all damn well better recognize.

    No, really.  You’d better. 

    1. The thing about Texans is it’s hard for us to decide between bigotry and apathy. It really is.

  7. Do NOT trust children being alone with any of these senators who pass this kind of stuff, amirite?

  8. Just say it ya’ll. You mean the south. Let’s not forget Georgia, where the women are cattle and the men are… cattle inseminators. 

  9. Teachers in Massachusetts are already *strongly* discouraged from having any kind of physical contact with students, at least at the high school level. This means no shaking hands, high fives, or pats on the back. If kids are fighting, you stand back, keep bystanders away, and wait for a specially trained team to break things up.

      1. Having taught at a MA high school, I have no fucking clue what magicdragonfly is talking about.  The closest thing we had to a SWAT team was the “security” guy who would drive around campus on a golf cart and kept a .38 snubnose in his sock. 

      1. We already invaded ourselves with the militarization of the police and the presence of SWAT teams in every nook and cranny of society. The invasion consolidated power in the hands of those most willing to use violence and repression.

        Are you happy now?

    1. Hey, don’t lump is all together.  I live in Massachusetts.  It isn’t a fairy tail land of wonder, but we do have gay marriage, make a good faith effort to avoid shooting brown people, don’t teach magic and supernatural nonsense in schools, and liberally slather ourselves in colleges and universities.

      Personally, there are times when I wish the South had won the civil war and successfully ceded.  What good things would the North have lost in that?  Austin?  Hell, if the South had won Austin wouldn’t exist, as Austin is just a San Francisco / Silicon Valley colonization project.

  10. Makes it hard to condemn places like Saudi Arabia and Afghanistan when we have states doing their best to copy them.

    1. You’re looking at the wrong piece of paper. You picked up the “right-wing dictatorships supported by the US”  list by accident. 

      The US has never met a right-wing dictatorship it couldn’t support, either at home or abroad. The brief problem in Afghanistan was due to those darned Taliban shutting down America’s heroin supply (and consequently interrupting the income flow of the CIA and Bush Family and Friends drug cartels), not any evil they did to their own people.

  11. How can this contest be conducted without even mentioning Kansas?  Kansas, home of now-Governor Brownback and the Westboro Baptist Church, with their cynical abortion clinic laws, for the “safety” and “health” of the patients, demonstrating that, hey, “intrusive big-government regulation” isn’t such a bad thing.

  12. Oh come on, isn’t all that abstinence education initiative by Christians on purpose so their kids will bear more Christians? 

    1. Seriously, yes. You hit the nail on the head. Successful organizations evolve to survive. 

      The legislators think they are acting against premarital sex, but evolution does not care what you think, only what you do. These rules encourage premarital sex (by encouraging ignorance, frustration, and reducing access to contraception). The result is more children in the group. Evolution wins.

  13. Yep.  I take this as yet another hint that they don’t like heterosexuality, either.  They should just abandon the concept of marriage and start pushing bland contracts to breed.

  14. Just noting that the 21st century doesn’t have a monopoly on Photoshop  errors — look what they’ve done to the woman’s waist on the cover of 1984. (And I hadn’t thought that the sexy bits were the cover attraction of 1984 in the first place.)

  15. So does “gateway sexual activity” include being born into one of the world’s hotbeds of incest? Just askin’!

  16. While they’re at it, Tennessee should pass a law requiring all citizens to greet one another by punching each other in the face.

      1. I for one am enthusiastic about the ‘face punch greeting’ option. Go to the capitol and start saying hi. To everyone.

  17. Sorry, I don`t mean to be an spanish orthography geek… but the title should be “¿Quién es más malo?  ¿Tennessee o Arizona?”

  18. Children do not only learn from teachers – they also learn from parents. So, no kissing or handholding for parents as long as the children are in the room! Ideally, parents should not kiss or hold the hands of their children either, in case this gives them the idea of daring to try it with their friends!

  19. This is what happens when you let the Republicans have cultural veto power for fifty years (see This Film is Not Yet Rated).

    Violence is more acceptable than affection.

  20.  Their parents shouldn’t kiss or hold hands as well. I’d like to take this one step further and suggest that they they should never have had sex and would have no children and thus the problem is solved.  The circle of death and all that, I can hear Sir Elton singing it now, but not in Tennessee.

  21. Being a College Professor in TN with two daughters, I am going to have to go with TN. On the other hand, I have family that spends some time in AZ and I will be willing to concede a close second to AZ. The major difference that I can see is that the population of AZ does have a number of, for lack of a better word, free-spirits. In TN there are a few bastions of civility, but there are many, many reasons my family is happy to be going back north. The last few weeks have made me realize how bad TN will be for my daughters.

  22. At least it will stop the kindergarteners singing the Barney song! (“With a great big hug and a kiss from me to you…”)

  23. I agree with the Signet Book’s cover illustrator on 1984. Its a good read. Fast, angry, sexual. I was thinking about the syntax and how it affected the overall mood. Particularly in the more expository passages; in the fifth chapter where Honey meets the whole Australian soccer team.

  24. ‘The bill would warn teens about the dangers of kissing and hand holding, and prohibit teachers from demonstrating such activities.’
    No demonstration? 

    1. But wouldn’t that mean that the anti-abortion activists in AZ now have to picket all menstruating women in AZ as walking abortion clinics!?

      Talk about a logistical nightmare for them, the best route would probably be to round up all the menstruating women and put them in camps for insemination, to avoid these preternaturally defined people being systematically aborted by menstruation.

      That ought to please the sky fairies tremendously.

  25. D.C.-centric pundits and pollsters are missing the boat when they fail to grasp the damage done to the Republican brand in states were the TEA party has taken over the state legislature.
    Independent voters have seen a flood of insane legislation come out of their state capitols and no amount of TV advertising is going to change the impression that the GOP has gone off the rails. In fact, the ham-handed SuperPAC ads that I’ve seen just reinforce that impression. 

  26. Don’t forget that this Tennessee law also allows schools to fire teachers who demonstrate this “gateway sexual activity.”  So teachers better not kiss their husbands or hold hands with anyone.  Because, you know, hand-holding could possibly lead to dancing, and then the kids would all get *shudder* Footloose.

  27. This reminds me of the backwards way of thinking one can find in many places in Tennessee.  I once bought some bottles of good wine from a wine store in Chattanooga and when I asked about a corkscrew bottle opener, I was curtly informed that it was illegal to sell corkscrews in their store!  

    Naturally, this will prevent any peckerwood from driving down the road, drinking a Bordeaux at the same time.

    1. As a native Tennessean I’d just like to point out that we recently had a lawmaker arrested for driving while drunk with a loaded gun in his car. This was the same lawmaker who’d been trying to pass a law that would allow people to carry concealed weapons in restaurants and bars.

      I’ll say this for Tennessee: sometimes our lawmakers do an excellent job of being so insanely stupid they undermine their own positions.

  28. Sky fairies. May I have permission to use that? Really they should just lock all of the detrimental females in the house from cradle to crave. Simpler that way really. Morons.  This all really makes me want to move to Arizona-just to live my life protesting laws like this.

  29. I am not surprised. This is just the sort of legislation that one would expect from this kind of states. I mean states like Saudi Arabia, Iran, Afghanistan, Tennessee, Arizona, ….

  30. Typo in your first sentence, Cory – “Tennessee and Arizona have been locked in a race to see which state can past the worst”… should be “pass the worst”

  31. Tennessee brews the best whiskery too but makes it unlawful to buy there. Seems to me that we need a State or two with confused and conflicting public policies to amuse the rest of the Country. 

  32. I think that all of this can be traced back to:
    “The Man-In-The-Sky book is more important than the Constitution.
    So MUCH more important, in fact, that we will do ANYTHING to make ALL of you abide by it, on one level or another. The Founding Fathers were either out of their minds or in the grips of a demonic possession when they separated the Church and State. So we’re puttin’ ’em back together, whether you like it or not. Oh, and by the by, we’re watching you if you try to stop us. Don’t ever forget about the asymmetric Orwellian advantage that we’ve acquired.”

    1.  Actually, the narrative is more like: “The USA is a Christian nation.  ‘Separation of church and state’ is a myth invented by those evil child-molesting liberal/secularist communists to warp your children’s minds and steal them from you.  The founding fathers were all devout fundamentalist Christians.  We’re just trying to put the USA back on the Christian foundation with which it started.”

      Which is a bald-faced lie, of course, but this is how conservative religious propagandists are trying to rewrite history.

  33. “The bill would warn teens about the dangers of kissing and hand holding…”

    That’s because Life Begins at Second Base.

  34. Those movies showing people not allowed to have more than one child or sex and kissing (exchanging of bodily fluids) being outlawed because of the risk of disease, don’t seem so far fetched anymore…

  35. More than twenty years ago, when I was in high school, a state legislator came to my health class to give a talk on “reproductive issues”. He didn’t mention hand-holding, specifically, but he talked quite a bit about how the purpose of kissing was to increase arousal and lead to sexual activity. Therefore, he said, kissing should only be done by people who were married because only people who were married should be having sex.

    Needless to say there was a lot of snickering.

    What I don’t understand is why many of my classmates would grow up to elect legislators who were not only more stupid but who would actually call hand-holding and kissing “gateway sexual activity”.  If that high school “lesson” had taught us anything it should have been that we need to keep jackasses who hold such ridiculous beliefs out of office.

    By the way, have any Arizona legislators threatened to assault or even kill transgendered people? Because if there’s no one in Arizona to match Tennessee’s Richard Floyd then I’d say Tennessee wins.

  36. I have lived all over the United States and you can find morons everywhere.  TN is not that bad.  I mean, the GOP candidate for president of all 50 states would probably find himself in agreement with the legislation that was passed.  So before people scream and run away from AZ or TN, I think they need to wake up to the mess in their own home towns.

    Ultimately, it’s up to parents to properly educate their kids.  I really don’t care if my kids get weird crap from school.  Better for them to realize that not all adults believe the same 4 things.  Better for them to question even the garbage they get from me!  

    Until we can frame both climate and evolutionary science outside of cultural forms of theology and market ideology, we’re gonna be having these problems everywhere.  We need republicans for climate science.  We need Christians comfortable with evolution and a poetic creation story, not a literal reading that results in a 7 days creation story.

    Mocking these people is only going to empower them.  I realize it’s really desirable to want to argue with people over theology and markets, but as a consequence of those debates, science itself has been thrust into this binary debate of yes or no.

    Again, really we need some decoupling of issues to make some things no longer questionable.  Until then, the frustration continues.   

    1. Climate change is only a culture war issue because oil companies intentionally marketed climate change (and environmentalism more generally) as a culture war issue. 

      As far as getting Christians* comfortable with evolution…they don’t reject evolution because liberals make fun of them.  They reject evolution because the foundation of their worldview is that the Bible is literally true and that anything that disagrees with the Bible is probably a trick by Satan to undermine their faith.  This position is impossible to reason someone out of because the starting point for reasoning for anyone with this worldview is “Well, what’s the Bible say about it?”

      I don’t really think mocking people empowers them.  How much mockery of liberals do conservatives engage in and when was the last time that ever empowered liberals?

      *Fundamentalist Christians.  There’s a diverse range of interpretations of Genesis out there and I’m not talking about theistic evolutionists or similar.

      1.  The main problem with “Christians” and “Christian” mentality, isn’t that they try to interpret the Bible literally, it’s that they fail to think for themselves. It’s pointless to reason with them because even when you can show how their beliefs and viewpoints are actually in conflict with what the Bible attempts to teach, they scream “False Prophet” and point out how the Devil knows how to quote scripture. Christians do not want to think for themselves, they want to be told how to think. They believe in Faith, not reason. Even if you can show them how reasonable (even Biblical) it is to live and let live, they are told not to believe that, and denying this logic is a sure sign they are faithful. The faithful do not question what they are told. They are taught that satan makes tolerance of others sound reasonable, and you must show faith in God, by denying that reason. That is what makes them so freaking scary. Mindless, reasonless minions of their republican masters. They sell, buy, and proudly wear T shirts that displays sayings like ” I’m narrow minded….Because narrow is the path that leads to heaven.” How do you hope to reason with that?

        1. Don’t lie to yourself and generalize about others.  Plenty of Christians are open-minded and intellectual and asking really hard questions of their belief.  

          For every loud-mouthed jackass, there are plenty of thoughtful people.

          Phrases like “reason with them” are condescending.  Treating them as inferiors will not work.  Attacking will not work.  

          The only way is to have constructive dialogue where you avoid attacking the deepest parts of their world view but still open them to observable facts.

          1.  I apologize if you thought I was attacking you specifically. And I agree that generalizations are rarely beneficial. The point I was trying to make, rather clumsily (typing in comments is a very poor way to accurately express yourself) is that for those christians that do not fall into the open-minded, intellectual category, the loud mouthed jackasses if you will, it is pointless to try to make a point with them. When you see people picketing the funeral of a fallen gay soldier, waving signs that say “God hates Gays”, it’s moot to try to show them how the bible teaches them to love, and show compassion. If god exists, and he does indeed hate gays, I still doubt god would want to see them denied basic rights and treated as animals. I doubt he would approve of the hateful behavior demonstrated by these “christians”. I am hopefully wrong, but in my experience the open minded, intellectual christians are a minority. They are significantly outnumbered by the loudmouthed jackasses. There are several of them, to every one of you, and not the other way around sadly.  

          2. Could some of these open minded Christians please stand up and be counted rather than letting the Fundies get out of control


      2. Mocking Christians empowers them because martyrdom is practically a command.  I’m a Christian.  Trust me, the whole “true” point is dying to self and taking up the cause of God.   Now, lol… seeing anybody dying to self is pretty laughable nowadays.  The white male Christian is arguably the most powerful ethnic slice there is.  Pretty hard to be a martyr.

        I agree that your average 7-day literalist Christian does indeed see evolution as Satan.

        What folks like myself are trying to do is slowly turn the boat.  Help people see that it’s possible to have your Christian belief in a God-created universe but seeing the mechanism could be evolution.  Biblical understanding doesn’t have to contradict observational understanding.  

        Like I said, we need to decouple evolution as proof that God doesn’t exist.  Sure, maybe that’s what some atheists do and that’s fine, but the grand theory of evolution doesn’t have to make a theological statement.

        If more atheists and pro-evolutionists were saying that, it would help.

        1.  While I agree that if evolution weren’t considered a vessel for the disproving of a god, more christians might be open to the concept. However belief in evolution won’t help christians embrace tolerance. I’m fine with christians believing that sex out of wedlock is bad (never mind the multitude of examples of “godly men in the bible engaging in sexual activities with women who are not their wives) I’m fine with that. What I have a problem with is christians thinking laws need to be passed to ensure everyone lives according to what they think is right. This country was not founded on christian principles, but on the belief that all men are free. ( I would say all people, but our founding fathers weren’t exactly feminists.). And it stipulates that we have freedom of religious choice (not a christian principle). People can be as narrow minded as they want, they are free to do so. But to force your views on someone else, and believe you have “gods” blessing to do so, is what is wrong here. If two men, or women want to get married, who are we to say they are wrong in doing so. Sure you can say the bible says that’s wrong, but our laws should not. If there is a god, and he truly disapproves, then that is something god can sort out with the sinners later in life. That is what the bible says. Judge not lest ye…we know the saying. So why all the judging? I mean really, does it count if you only please god because you are forced by law to do so.

          1. As a Christian, I completely agree that gay men should be able to get married all they want.  

            (and I agree that the bible is often not the best place to find lot’s of grand examples of monogamy in action.)

            From my point of view, if God gives us the choice to do X, Y, or Z, then we should give each other that space as well.  Whether X, Y, or Z is something that brings us closer or farther from God is more up to the individual and God.

            On a personal note, I have known Gay couples that were every bit as loving as hetero couples I know.  It’s really hard to imagine how that love is evil.  It’s easier for me to look at the old testament prohibitions against it as a cultural deviance that was destructive for those people at that time while today we’re able to look past the offensiveness and instead see that relationship in the positive way it’s capable of being.  Heterosexual relationships can be just as damaging and just as amazing.  

            Sin and judgement are not the trivial concepts Christians or Christianists often make them out to be.  Sadly so.  

            So I get your frustration.  I live much more up close to that world and it’s a pain.

            It’s exciting for me to see shows like Modern Family display a gay couple in a very endearing and positive way.  That is one of the better ways true progress is made in people’s minds.  

  37. No hand holding or kissing in public. Why do Republicans want to take us back to 1949? Thats 1949 Afganistan. Republican=Taliban. Whats next religous police?

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