Mississippi madness

Posted on 09 Aug 2012 at 6:35pm

With no solutions for real problems, congressional candidate instead advocates taking up arms against politicians who oppose Chick-fil-A

Wayne BesenMississippi Libertarian congressional candidate Ron Williams has a message for the Yankee mayors opposed to Chick-fil-A’s anti-gay agenda: They “need to be introduced to the Second Amendment ASAP.”

In a letter to the (Gulfport) Sun Herald, Williams wrote: “Let me make it clear, the CEO is being punished by government officials because he exercised his First Amendment right of free speech. The Constitution is very clear. When government restricts and punishes the people for exercising their First Amendment rights, then we are to default to the Second Amendment (right to keep and bear arms).

These two mayors need to be introduced to the Second Amendment ASAP. … The correct response to these mayors would be to send troops or whatever to remove these men from office, by whatever means is necessary.”
Williams later clarified his statement:

“I’m not saying anybody should go shoot these mayors,” Williams said. “But politicians need to be reminded, our founding fathers were quite clear that it’s quite possible for our country to fall back into the hands of tyranny. … I’m a thou-shalt-not-kill kind of guy, but these guys should be reminded of the Second Amendment. … I guess the word reminded would have been better (in the letter). … I needed a thesaurus beside me.”

Once again, we have a grandstanding politician in Dixie, whose obsession with defending fundamentalism — WITH GUNS — overrides the urgency of fixing his state’s massive problems. For those who don’t know, Mississippi is the most religious state in the nation, but the least Christian in terms of sharing the priorities that Jesus would actually care about.

It’s healthcare system is such a shambles that it has turned to Iran for help. Nevertheless, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant might not take federal money for the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare”), because presumably he prefers Ahmadinejadcare.

Deep fry and feast on Mississippi’s misfortunes:

• Sixty-nine percent of adult Mississippians are obese or overweight (Keep eating Chick-fil-A!)

• A Mississippi black man’s life expectancy is lower than the average American’s life expectancy was in 1960.

• A quarter of the state’s households don’t have access to decent, healthful food.

• The state has the highest rate of teen births in the nation. (Yet, there is one abortion clinic in Mississippi, and Gov. Phil Bryant is working hard to close it down.) Until this year, schools taught abstinence (which we just found out last week isn’t even working in Uganda, the very nation conservatives put on a pedestal as the crown jewel of such programs).

• In the U.S., the black infant mortality rate is more than twice that of white infants, so Mississippi, which is 37 percent black, has huge neonatal intensive care units. Caring for the thousands of premature babies (weighing between 1 and 4 pounds) costs millions of dollars. According to Dr. Glen Graves of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, these tiny, deprived babies grow up to be plagued with chronic illnesses.

• Human Rights Watch calls the Deep South “the epicenter of the HIV epidemic in the United States, with more people living and dying of AIDS than in any region in the country.”

• Blacks in Mississippi are dying from AIDS at a rate 64 percent higher than the nation’s average.

• Of the state’s population of nearly 3 million, 550,000 are uninsured.

• The state has 176 doctors per 100,000 people, the lowest such number in the country.

I know that the good ole boys in Mississippi like to talk tough and stroke their beloved guns. But given that seven out of 10 Mississippians are obese, I’m placing my bets on Chicago or Boston if a bunch of funnel-cake fundies waddle north to pick a firefight.

At least they go to the gym, instead of stuffing their faces with Slim Jims. Plus, I wouldn’t mess with Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel — he doesn’t seem to take any guff.

But in all seriousness, with the state’s residents in crisis, why are blowhards like Ron Williams distracting voters with trivial issues? Maybe, because they don’t have any real solutions to offer the citizens of this ailing state.

I’ll conclude by asking that Mississippians don’t take this column personally. After all, I’m from the dysfunctional state of Florida. We gave the nation Terri Schaivo, Elian Gonzalez and hanging chads. We are one election and two Chick-fil-A sandwiches from becoming you —God, forbid.

Wayne Besen is founding executive director of Truth Wins Out, a Vermont-based nonprofit organization that fights anti-gay religious extremism. He can be reached at WBesen@TruthWinsOut.org.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition August 10, 2012.

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