Olivia McConnell is an eight year old third grader who lives in South Carolina. Olivia and her father eat at a local restaurant that incorporates all 50 of South Carolina’s official symbols into the menu. When Olivia noted that the menu did not have an official state fossil she decided to do some research.
What Olivia found is that 43 states have official state fossils, but not South Carolina. S.C. has an official state spider, 3 official state dances, 2 state marine mammals, a state dog, flower, snack, butterfly… they even have an official state Tartan!
After this all washes out South Carolina should have an official state schoolgirl, and someone needs to nominate Olivia who would win in a landslide.
When Olivia decided to do something about the lack of an official state fossil she wrote her local representatives, State Rep. Robert Ridgeway and State Sen. Kevin Johnson, Democrats from Clarendon, asking them to sponsor legislation to make the wooly mammoth the official state fossil of South Carolina.
“Please work on this for me,” McConnell wrote to Ridgeway, signing her letter, “Your friend, Olivia.”
Both of those fine Democratic representatives thought Olivia had a keen idea, and they commenced to submit the required legislation:
Whereas, giant mammoths used to roam South Carolina; andWhereas, scientists have identified the fossils of about six hundred and fifty species of vertebrates in South Carolina to date; and
Whereas, it has been recognized that fossilized mammoth teeth were discovered in a swamp in South Carolina in 1725; and
Whereas, this discovery has been credited as the first scientific identification of a North American vertebrate fossil. Now, therefore,
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina:
SECTION 1. Article 9, Chapter 1, Title 1 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:
“Section 1-1-712A. The Columbian Mammoth is designated as the official State Fossil of South Carolina.”
SECTION 2. This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.
Needless to say, Olivia was psyched that her hard work paid dividends:
“It makes me feel really good,” she said. “It’s exciting,” Olivia said after hearing that the lawmakers are taking her request seriously.
The bill cruised through the house with only 3 votes against passage. I think 3 votes against is remarkable, because it should have passed unanimously by voice acclamation.
Unfortunately for our young heroine however, her bill is stalled in the S.C. senate due to the religious objections of 2 Republicans who think Jesus would suffer the children to come unto him, but only if the kids pinky promise to not believe in science.
Republican Senator Kevin Bryant, tried to amend the bill to add scripture from the book of Genesis describing the fundamentalist view of creationism. When that amendment was ruled out of order because it would bring an unrelated subject to the bill, Republican Mike Fair placed an objection on the bill. Not that he wants to block the bill! He just wants to find a way to add a creationist amendment to the bill that will pass legal muster.
Keep in mind, the bill did not specify the age of the fossil or that mammoth fossils of themselves somehow prove evolution. Evidently Republicans Bryant and Fair feel that their fundamentalist outlook is threatened by the state even acknowledging the existence of a fossil without them being allowed to force their point of view onto the subject. It is not like Olivia was trying to pass an official state theory that evolution and the big bang described our origins, but it is like the Republicans are trying to force creationist theory onto her bill.
Fair and Bryant may think they are fighting the good fight for their point of view, but they just make their side look bad. Wouldn’t it be great if Democrats could consistently be lucky enough to forward the extremely popular legislation of 8 year old schoolgirls knowing that local Republicans would make a spectacle of themselves in opposition.
Finally, the example being set by Fair and Bryant is hardly Christ like. Ask yourself, “what would Jesus do?” I doubt the answer to that question is that he would act like a huge douche bag.