Politics & Other Mistakes: Video vexation

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The controversial video produced for the Maine Department of Education that’s supposed to teach elementary school kids about LGBTQ+ issues is dangerous.

It might bore those poor little suckers to death.

Al DiamonTeaching young children that not everybody is heterosexual is a no-brainer. Most of them probably have some clue that’s the case, anyway. But this video is filled with explanations that range from confusing to wrong.

“There are lots of other people who want to love in a different way than the world says they’re allowed to,” says Kailina Mills, the teacher who wrote the video.

Yeah, there are pedophiles, rapists, and other assorted creeps. Mills should have distinguished between criminals and adults engaging in consensual activities. 

“A transgender person is a person who doctors made a mistake about when they were born,” Mills claims. “Some people when they get a little bit older realize that what the doctors said was not right.”

Sure, encourage the squirts to have doubts about established medical procedures. Maybe they’ll grow up to be anti-vaxxers.

Physicians have a remarkably accurate record of assessing the sex of newborn children. But when it comes to determining gender – how a person thinks of themselves – there’s no way to detect that at birth.

Mills feels the need to define for the tots what the word “government” means, but tosses off the term “transitioning” without explanation. That’s probably not a problem, because by the time she gets to that stuff, her audience’s attention span has expired.

The Education Department withdrew this inept video from its curriculum for remote learning after the Maine Republican Party, unable to resist the temptation to score political points, released TV and radio ads calling it “radical.” The spots claimed Democratic Gov. Janet Mills (no relation to the person who made the video) spent $2.8 million to indoctrinate little urchins with inappropriate messages.

In reality, $2.8 million was the cost of several dozen videos, many of them equally boring, but most lacking even a hint of controversy. Parents who have trouble getting their offspring to take naps will find these lessons to be invaluable resources.

What’s going on here has nothing to do with education. It’s all about politics. Republicans have discovered that stirring up fears that school kids are being “groomed” to accept transgendered people as normal human beings is way more effective at convincing voters to throw Democrats out of office than discussing actual issues.

Spending $94,000 on these ads provides the party with a greater return than explaining how the GOP will combat inflation (no clue), how it’ll deal with a broken health care system (it won’t), or what its plans are when it comes to abortion, same-sex marriage or birth control (ban them all).

This isn’t to say that Democrats are taking a more high-minded approach to the upcoming election. The Democratic Legislative Leadership Committee recently sent out a press release claiming “34 Maine Republican Legislators Are Members of Far-Right Facebook Groups.” The release associated those state senators and representatives with “militia members, election deniers, conspiracy theorists, and bigots.”

In a few cases, those claims don’t seem entirely outlandish, but, they’re a stretch for most. Still, it means the Democrats don’t have to talk about inflation (no clue), a broken health care system (we’ll just wave our magic wand), and abortion (panic).

Overall, it’s shaping up to be another campaign season of ugly crap-slinging. Watching these videos might allow you to sleep through it.

Shuffled off

Former Associated Press reporter Francis Quinn died on May 17. Quinn’s low-key style ingratiated him to many politicians who should have known better. When things were slow at the Statehouse, he’d shuffle around the halls asking everyone he met, “Got any news?” This unconventional approach earned him a surprising number of scoops.

Quinn was famous for his Patriots Day gatherings at Fenway Park, after which he and his cronies (a group that included alleged prison escapees and at least one current U.S. senator) would stand outside bars cheering on the stragglers in the Boston Marathon.

He was a master of dry wit, although few were in any shape the next day to recall what he said. Probably just as well.

Virtual toasts for Fran can be emailed to [email protected].