Thursday, August 27, 2009

only the mighty hammer of Thor can protect Kentucky now

We've all looked and chuckled at lists of strange laws, like the one that says you can't flag down a London taxi if you have the plague, or put pretzels in a bag in Philadelphia, or enter the House of Commons wearing a suit of armour. Time moves on, laws become irrelevant, and frankly it's a lot of hassle to revoke all the irrelevant ones, so in a lot of cases they're just left lying around on the statute book never to be invoked in real life again.

So when I read that the state of Kentucky had, as the result of a lawsuit filed back in December 2008, repealed a law requiring explicit praising of God in any official documents I chuckled to myself and expected to see that it had been lying around unnoticed in some sub-clause since about 1820. Not so, however. The following paragraph is from a list of the responsibilities of the Executive Director of the Kentucky Office of Homeland Security:
Publicize the findings of the General Assembly stressing the dependence on Almighty God as being vital to the security of the Commonwealth by including the provisions of KRS 39A.285(3) in its agency training and educational materials. The executive director shall also be responsible for prominently displaying a permanent plaque at the entrance to the state's Emergency Operations Center stating the text of KRS 39A.285(3)
- and was apparently inserted not in the early 19th century, but in - get this - 2006, at the behest of one Tom Riner, a Democratic state Representative and, yes, that's right, evangelical Christian. I think it's profoundly revealing of the sort of internal mental contortions the religious go through each and every day to try and parse this response to the judgment into a form that makes any sense:
Riner said Wednesday that he is unhappy with the judge’s ruling. The way he wrote the law, he said, it did not mandate that Kentuckians depend on God for their safety, it simply acknowledged that government without God cannot protect its citizens.
What? Wait, I.....what? How does.....what?

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