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  • Writer's pictureDoug Neckers

Goodbye Columbus

Okay, I admit it -- I’m an old guy. But unlike Tommy Tuberville, a former football coach who is now a U.S. Senator from Alabama, I remember something

about the civics class I took in school.

I learned, as we all should have, that the United States has three branches of government: The legislative; as in the men and women we elect to represent us, in Congress or the legislature; the executive, as in the President or the governor, and the judicial, the judges that preside over our courts and sometimes rule on whether particular laws violate our Constitution.

I mention this, because even before he took office last year, coach, I mean Senator Tuberville said he thought the three branches were “the House, the Senate and the executive,” and added that World War II was fought “to free Europe from socialism.” That would be funny in a movie.

In real life, it is an American embarrassment. Now, while his grasp of history may be shaky, even the good senator would likely agree that government shouldn’t be sanctioning and promoting mass murder.

Yet over the last few years, it increasingly seems to this citizen that those who have taken over the party of my parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and Abraham Lincoln are doing exactly that.

In the State of Ohio, for example, the General Assembly has enacted various carry laws, to make sure hauling around heat is ok for anybody under pretty much any circumstances. For example, when customers for one local farmers’ market took too many spaces in a grocery store’s parking lot, one of the store employees could legally prance around the appointed parking lot on the night of the farmer’s market proudly showing his holster and six-gun to all who would dare cross into his territory.

Ohio is far from alone, which is why within just a few days we had mass murders in New York, Texas and Oklahoma. Normal people might think passing laws to make it harder for some people to buy killing machines, or to limit how many rounds certain guns can fire, would make sense.

Not our politicians. After the Texas elementary school massacre, Alabama’s coach Tuberville said “It’s a people problem, not a gun problem.”

He blamed the parents. In Ohio, the state legislature responded by sending the governor a bill to make it easier for teachers to carry a gun in the classroom.

Gov. Mike DeWine, running for re-election and presumably eager to show how tough he is, said he would sign it.

The logic escapes me. All this reminds me of a story I heard back in Sunday school in my little western New York town: Once, the sun and wind bet on who could make someone – maybe the governor -- take off his coat: The wind by blowing harder and harder, or the sun by quietly turning up the temperature.

Guess who won?

Think about the nightmares that arming teachers to “prevent school shooters” would cause? How long before teenage bad boy Earl, always in trouble with the teacher, gets shot? How long before little innocent girl Emily gets shot because the teacher aiming at a bad guy misses, or he is careless and another kid gets the gun. How long before students start aiming their guns at the teachers?

You know all those things are bound to happen. One doesn’t put out a fire by turning up the gas stove, and you don’t stop gun violence by adding more guns.

Our state senators and representatives have passed many stupid laws over the years, but now the system, at least in Ohio, is actively working against us. A state constitutional amendment was passed by the voters to try and make the redistricting process fairer, and all the Republicans in Columbus did was work every trick to get around the will of the people.

Give me a break: How dumb, lawmakers, do you think the citizens are? The people passed an amendment to make government more representative, and you are trying to continue to rig it in order to keep a minority from your party is in control in Columbus.

Something must be done, and I am proposing to my friends, relatives, and neighbors, to members of the League of Women Voters and citizen action committees everywhere that we start another petition drive for another constitutional amendment, which I propose to call the “Flush Amendment.”

My amendment will say, in the proper legalese written by the best lawyers, “Effective one month after the amendment is passed, the voters will exercise a huge state government flush. Every elected representative in the House and Senate, plus everyone at the top, including the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of State, are hereby flushed out of office, taking only the personal items on their desks.

“Brass bands all over the state are to play “Goodbye Columbus.”

Yes, I know it sounds fantastic … but even old professors need a dream.


Douglas Neckers is an organic chemist, the McMaster distinguished professor emeritus and the founder of the Center for Photochemical Sciences at Bowling Green State University. He is also a former board chair of the Robert H. Jackson Center in Jamestown, N.Y.

Photo by Maria Lysenko on Unsplash

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