For the record, I am a right-wing, Jesus-freaking troglodyte who, because of my opinions, probably has warrants for my arrest on hate crimes in half the states of the Union.
If I were dictator, I would close all the ta-ta bars and ban pornography. My opinion on what to do with those who traffic children for sex is no doubt well to the right of Dirty Harry and Captain Clay Higgins, and well in line with Vlad the Impaler.
Even so, people need to get off state Rep. Kenny Havard’s back for his joke amendment about regulating the age and weight of strippers. Come on, people, this is Louisiana, not the Puritan colony of Massachusetts, the People’s Republic of California, or South Feministan.
Kenny Havard, as it happens, is my state representative. He’s a good guy, well liked in the community. I don’t know him well, but he has always struck me as low-key and modest. I’ve never heard a bad word said about him.
Despite my own deeply conservative views on such matters, I thought Havard’s amendment mandating that strippers be no older than 28 and no heavier than 160 pounds was kind of funny. Eighteen-year-olds are legal adults. No one should be a stripper or patronize strip clubs, but if you’re old enough to die for your country in Afghanistan, you’re old enough to shake your money-maker in a jiggle joint.
I first heard about this story in an e-mail from a New Orleans lawyer friend, a conservative Evangelical whose subject line read: “Love this state!”
Me too, because we have a deep appreciation for the absurd. When I tell Yankee friends that St. Francisville, my hometown, used to be home to a drag queen who had his own float in the Christmas parade, they think I’m lying. But it’s true — and we still would have her if she hadn’t gotten into that hot mess at the haunted plantation and ended up skipping town under cover of darkness.
Louisiana is backwards and eccentric. Alas, some folks appreciate this more than others.
Reacting hotly to Havard’s prank, state Rep. Julie Stokes, a Kenner Republican, fumed, “Looking out over this body, I’ve never been so repulsed to be a part of it.”
Really? Rep. Stokes was elected in 2013, and was part of the Legislature during the last years of Gov. Bobby Jindal’s fiscally disastrous term. If she finds Kenny Havard’s joke more offensive than the catastrophic economic mismanagement of the state under her party’s governance, she needs to readjust her sensitivities.
Stokes wasn’t the only Republican woman giving Havard hell. Lafayette state Rep. Nancy Landry said that he “was clearly insinuating that women over a certain age and certain weight are not attractive.”
Well, no, he was insinuating that strippers (he didn’t specify the sex) over a certain age and weight are unattractive. Which is true. Take it from a gray-bearded fatso pushing a beer gut across the 50-year line: No non-pervert wants to see old fat people of either sex take off their clothes in public as erotic entertainment.
Advocate columnist Stephanie Grace angrily speculated, “Is this what it would be like to live in Donald Trump’s America?”
Look, I can’t stand Trump. He’s a boor and a cretin. But a lot of people like the guy because they are sick of our politically correct culture that treats ordinary dissent, or misdemeanors in the matter of manners, as a war crime.
The Obama administration last week declared that henceforth, public schools must let transgender kids use the toilet and changing facility of their choice, as well as play on the sports team of their preferred gender, or face a federal civil rights lawsuit. In its rhetoric, it has turned school locker rooms into the Edmund Pettus Bridge, and if you object, you are a bigot.
This is radical, and it will affect every public school and university in Louisiana. But hey, let’s all take to the fainting couch over Kenny Havard’s mildly frattish sense of humor. No doubt the Louisiana Legislature is not the most enlightened bunch that ever drew breath. But the national hissy-fit over Kenny Havard’s joke only serves to prove his point — and Donald Trump’s.
As of this writing, Havard hasn’t apologized, and says he won’t. Good. Keep Louisiana hopelessly weird. After all, Edwin’s been gone for too long, and we writers need something to work with.
Rod Dreher is a senior editor at The American Conservative, author of several books, and a resident of Starhill. He blogs at theamericanconservative.com/dreher.