The stupidest person on earth*

Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later.

I got a door ding on my shiny, new truck.  My wife noticed it while getting in on her side last Saturday morning and delicately broke the news to me.  I walked over and, sure enough, if you bent over at the proper angle and the light hit it just right and you leaned forward and to the side while squinting slightly, there was the tiniest of door dings on my beloved beauty.  I refrained from wailing in the parking lot, but barely.

I was so distraught that I climbed into the cab, leaned my head against the steering wheel, and mourned for a few minutes before placing the truck in reverse and promptly backing into a concrete light pole causing $1,800 worth of damage.

Seriously, I did that.  With a fully functional backup camera.

At least it was only witnessed by my entire family, so now my 17-year-old reminds me to watch out for light poles every time I place the newly scarred truck in reverse.  Trying to be a good sport, I respond that I have a backup camera and only an idiot would hit a light pole with a backup camera.

Yet I am that idiot.  I felt like the stupidest person on earth.  Fortunately there are others in the running…

For example, I was in Nashville at the capitol last Tuesday and Wednesday.  Guess who wasn’t there with me?  Newly elected State Representative Mark Lovell of Collierville.

Lovell ran a successful campaign, spending tens of thousands of dollars to take a seat from a long-time incumbent by a hefty margin.  He had barely been on the hill a month when he resigned amidst allegations of inappropriately touching a staffer in a sexual way.

Lovell is a husband and father and described himself during the campaign as “a strong Conservative Republican with common sense problem solving skills.”

I’m having a tough time swallowing the common sense part, especially after a special legislative committee determined after a brief investigation that Lovell did, in fact, violate the legislative sexual harassment policy.  A year of campaigning, all that money spent, and in a character-revealing moment of really poor decision-making, poof!  All gone.

Lovell may not merit his claim of common sense, but even so, he may not have been the dumbest person on the hill.

Upon arrival at the Capitol, we were cautioned that there had been very aggressive protesters on the hill the day prior.

I personally had no problem with protestors, but the “aggressive” part was a little unnerving as we heard about pushing and pressing toward legislators as they walked the halls.  As I began to see some of the protestors myself and read some of the signs, I had a new respect for the challenges our legislators face.

Shouts of “We are watching you!” were met with a calm explanation that every session is streamed live on the Internet so that every Tennessean can watch every single vote every single day.

Folks advocating that government “Stay Out of Our Churches and Schools” stood side-by-side with homosexual couples demanding that Senate Bill 127 be voted down, who in turn stood beside women with signs reading “Keep Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries,” rallying next to others whose signs read “No Guns Without Background Checks,” all circling a lady holding what I thought was the most intriguing sign of the day:  “Come Hang Out with Me in Juvenile Court and Then Let’s Talk About What’s Best for Women and Children.”  The gun protestors, obviously not easily deterred, stood ironically only yards from the world-record 47-point buck on display by invitation from the delegation from Sumner County where the animal was killed.  My primary thought, though, was that these people would likely never have been seen in the same place had their outrage at our legislators not driven them together.

The anger targeted, in fairness, a group of legislators who have actually done a pretty good job in recent years despite a few bad apples.  With nearly a billion-dollar surplus and a balanced budget, Tennessee is one of only two states to offer free college for any adult in the state desiring an associate’s degree.  Last year was the first in history that Tennessee did not draw any new debt, and the governor’s budget proposes this to be the second.  Not too shabby from a fiscal perspective, if you ask me.

But still they protest, as well we should when we feel our rights and freedoms are challenged.  The hatefulness and physical aggression of a few notwithstanding, I do not lump these protesters in with those of us who back into light poles.

No, the protestors who took the cake for me were the group holding signs demanding “No Ban – No Wall.“  I am all for protesting, but for heaven’s sake, do it in the right place.  The Tennessee General Assembly will not be determining the rules for Customs and Border Patrol agents nor the possibility of a federally mandated wall being built three states away.

The best response of the day?  “Even if they make their way through Texas and Louisiana and are approaching through Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia, we still have no intentions of building a wall along our southern border.”

I thought that was a fair response, but then again, I may be the stupidest person on earth.

© Michael L. Collins

* This column previously appeared in the February 23rd, 2017 edition of The Mountain Press

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